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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 28December 15, 2001 - Issue 51


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How Tol-le-loo Stole Fire

Northern Mewuk Legend

ratsLong before the Alisal rancheria was established, the Valley People lived in California's San Joaquin Valley, about a day's walk from the eventual site of Alisal and not far from the present town of Stockton. Their chiefs were Wek-wek, the Falcon, and We-pi-ah-gah, the Golden Eagle.

Their neighbors to the east, the Mountain People, lived in darkness in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Although, they wanted fire, the Mountain People did not know where or how to obtain it. O-la-choo, the Coyote-man, tried to find it but failed. Eventually, Tol-le-loo, the White-footed Mouse, discovered that the Valley People had fire, and O-la-choo sent him to steal it.

bird on nestTaking his elderberry flute with him, Tol-le-loo travelled west until he reached the homes of the Valley People. Arriving outside their roundhouse, Tol-le-loo sat down and began to play his flute. Finding the music pleasant to listen to, the Valley People invited Tol-le-loo to come inside and continue his playing. Soon all the people began to feel sleepy. Now Wit-tah-bah the Robin was pretty sure that Tol-le-loo was planning on stealing their fire, so he spread himself over the embers to protect it. And that is why the robin's is breast is red today.

campfireTol-le-loo kept playing his flute, and pretty soon everyone, including Wit-tah-bah the Robin, had fallen asleep. Seizing this opportunity, Tol-le-loo ran up to the sleeping Wit-tah-bah, and cut a small hole in his wing. Then he crawled through the hole and placed the fire inside his flute. Running out of the roundhouse, he climbed to the top of Mount Diablo, where he built a great fire that lit up the entire countryside, including the blue Sierra Nevada mountains to the east where the Mountain People lived.

When Wek-wek the Falcon awoke and saw the fire on Mount Diablo, he knew that Tol-le-loo had stolen the Valley People's fire. So he set out after Tol-le-loo, and eventually caught him. Tol-le-loo denied having taken the fire, and told Wek-wek to search him if he doubted him. Wek-wek searched but could not find the fire because it was inside Tol-le-loo's flute. So Wek-wek tossed Tol-le-loo into some water and let him go on his way.

Singing BirdsTol-le-loo climbed out of the water, and continued east to the mountains, all the while carrying the fire in his flute. Arriving home, he took the fire out of the flute, and placed it on the ground. Then covering it with leaves and pine needles, he wrapped it up in a small bundle.

Le-che-che the Hummingbird and another bird went after it, but they could not catch it and returned empty-handed.

Mouse in StarO-la-choo the Coyote-man could smell the fire, and wanted to steal it. He approached the bundle, and pushed it with his nose, preparing to swallow it. Suddenly, however, the fire shot up into the sky and became the Sun.

The people took the fire that was left and put it into two trees, the buckeye and the incense cedar, where legend says it still resides. From that time on, the Mountain People made their fire drills from the wood of these two trees.

Print and Color Your Own Picture of Tol-le-loo


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White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)

These are my berriesThe white-footed mouse is very similar to the deer mouse.. It is 16 to 20 cm long including a six to nearly ten cm long tail, and weighs 10 to 43 g. It is greyish to dull orange-brown above and white below with large ears. Young mice are more grey than their parents. White-footed mice live in wooded or brushy areas in all parts of Southern Ontario and southern Quebec, and American states south to Texas and northern Georgia.

White-tailed mice are active all year round. They remain in their nests during very wet or very cold weather. Recent studies show that, although they do not hibernate, they do go into a deep sleep during very cold weather. Their nests are build in any well-hidden place. They burrow under logs or tree trunks. They may use birds' nests, abandoned burrows of other small mammals, and buildings. White-tailed mice find other nests even in winter when the present nest becomes dirty with droppings or leftover foods. They are good climbers.

Two Mice FeedingLike the deer mouse, the white-footed mouse has several litters of two to seven young each year. White-footed mice pair up to raise their young. Females and males build nests in stumps, hollow trees or burrow underground. Blind and hairless young are born about three weeks after the mating. Each baby is about the size of a jellybean. They immediately start to take milk from their mother and grow rapidly. During the warm months, female white-footed mice are ready to mate very soon after giving birth to a litter.

After three weeks, the young develop hair, open their eyes, and no longer take milk from their mother. They follow their mother or father on nightly trips to find food. If the female is already pregnant, she will leave this litter to have the new litter. Females born in the spring can mate when only seven weeks old and have their own families at ten weeks. Even though a female can have from 12 to 20 young in a year, at the end of a year only two white-footed mice will survive, on average, to replace the pair.

Mouse Balancing On A StickThe white-tailed mouse eats seeds from many kinds of grasses, acorns, beechnuts, hickory, chestnuts, basswood, pine seeds, and cherry seeds from inside the pits. The last is a real favourite. It also eats berries, insects, mammals smaller than itself, young birds in their nests, caterpillars, and snails.

The white-footed mouse is active during the winter. The white-footed mouse gathers any food that it does not need to eat during the warm months. It hides the food under logs, rocks, or underground for the winter months.

To help it chew its food, the white-footed mouse has a double row of points, called cusps, on its back teeth, or molars. The enemies of the white-footed mouse include coyotes, foxes, owls, weasels and snakes. It is an important food for many of these carnivores.


White Footed Mouse
The genus name Peromyscus is from the Greek words pera (pouch) and myskos (little mouse), or "pouched little mouse," a reference to the internal cheek pouches found in members of this genus. The specifes name leucopus is from the Greek words leukon (white) and pous (foot).


White Footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)
A medium-sized, short-tailed, white-footed mouse; tail about 43% of total length, sparsely haired, darker above than below but usually not sharply bicolor; upperparts cinnamon rufous mixed with blackish; sides paler, with less admixture of black; underparts and feet white, the "ankle" slightly brownish.


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