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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 7, 2002 - Issue 69


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How the People Got Arrowheads

Shasta Legend
Mining GopherIn the days when the first people lived, they used to go hunting with arrows that had pine-bark points. They did not know where to get obsidian, or they would have used it, for obsidian made a sharp, deadly point which always killed the animals that were shot.

Ground Squirrel was the only one who knew that Obsidian Old Man lived on Medicine Lake, and one day he set out to steal some obsidian. Taking a basket filled with roots, he went into Obsidian Old Man's house and offered him some. Obisidian-Old-Man ate the roots and liked them so much that he sent Ground Squirrel out to get more. While Ground Squirrel was digging for them, Grizzly Bear came along.

"Sit down," Grizzly Bear said. "Let me sit in your lap. Feed me those roots by the handful."

BearGround Squirrel was very much afraid of huge Grizzly Bear, so he did as he was told. Grizzly Bear gobbled the roots and got up. "Obsidian Old Man's mother cleaned roots for someone," he said as he went away.

Ground Squirrel returned to Obsidian Old Man, but there were only a few roots left to give him. Ground Squirrel told him what Grizzly Bear had done and what he had said as he departed. Obsidian Old Man was extremely angry at the insult to his dead mother.

"Tomorrow we will both go to find roots," he said.

Popup GopherSo early the next morning they set off. Obsidian Old Man hid near the place where Ground Squirrel started digging. Soon Ground Squirrel's basket was filled, and then along came Grizzly Bear.

"You dug all these for me!" he said. "Sit down!"

Ground Squirrel sat down, as he had the the day before, and fed Grizzly Bear roots by the handful. But just then Grizzly Bear saw Obsidian Old Man draw near, and the bear got up to fight. At each blow, a great slice of the grizzly's flesh was cut off by the sharp obsidian. Grizzly Bear kept fighting till he was all cut to pieces, and then he fell dead. So Ground Squirrel and Obsidian Old Man went home and ate the roots and were happy. Early next morning, Obsidian Old Man awakened by Ground Squirrel's groaning.

"I am sick. I am bruised because that great fellow sat upon me. Really, I am sick," he was groaning.

Obsidian Old Man was sorry for Ground Squirrel. "I'll go and get wood," he said to himself. "But I'll watch him, for he may be fooling me. These people are very clever."

So he went for wood, and on the way he thought, "I had beter to back and look."

CampfireWhen he crept back softly and peeped in, he saw Ground Squirrel lying there, groaning."He is really sick,! Obsidian Old Man said to himself, and went off in earnest--this time for wood.

But Ground Squirrel was very clever; he had been fooling all the time. As soon as Obsidian Old Man was far away, he got up. Taking all the obsidian points and typing them up in a bundle, he ran off.

As soon as Obsidian Old Man returned, he missed Ground Squirrel. He dropped the wood, ran after him, and almost caught him, but Ground Squirrel ran into a hole in the ground. As he went, he kicked the earth into the eyes of the old man, who was digging fast, trying to catch him.

ArrowheadAfter a while Obsidian Old Man gave up and left. Ground Squirrel came out the other end of the hole, crossed the lake, and went home.

He emptied the bundle of points on the ground and distributed them to everyone. All day long the people worked, tying them onto arrows. They threw away all the old bark points, and when they were hunting they used the new arrow points and killed a great many deer.

Print and Color your own Ground Squirrels

Ground Squirrel-Number One

Ground Squirrel-Number Two

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Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
(Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)

Thirteen-lined Ground SquirrelSome people call these rascally squirrels "Federation Squirrels" because of the pattern on their back and sides which looks like stars and stripes. This color pattern helps camouflage them in tall grasses from their number one predator, the northern harrier. They also like to stand at attention (this is called a "picket pin" posture) on their hind legs as they look to watch for danger.

Interesting Facts:
Because ground squirrels spend most of their lives below ground, they build extensive burrows. Thirteen-lined ground squirrels make three types of burrows.

• Hiding burrows are short and there are lots of them.
• Nesting burrows are larger.
• Hibernating burrows, below the frost line (20-40 inches deep) contain a large nest and a plugged entrance.

Description of the Thirteen lined Ground Squirrel:
The thirteen-lined squirrel is from 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches long, with a tail that is 2 1/2 to 5 inches long. The body is light to dark brown, with 13 stripes down its back. The stripes alternate between solid white and ark with white dots.

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel resembles the chipmunk in size, but the chipmunk has a broad white stripe bordered with black on each side of the body and face.

Habitat and behavior:
Thirteen-lined ground squirrels live in short grasslands and weedy areas. This squirrel needs to see over the top of the grass when it stands on its hind legs. Golf courses, cemeteries, parks, roadsides , and airport land are ideal because they are occasionally mowed.

The squirrels dig burrows without a mound of soil at the entrance. They spread the soil around and pat it down with their feet and the top of their head. Breeding takes place once a year about mid-April and the babies are born about 28 days later. The babies come out of the burrows about a month after birth.

Thirteen-lined Ground SquirrelThe 13-lined ground squirrel burrows beneath the ground during the winter and seals the entrance before hibernating. Their heartbeat actually changes from 350 beats per minute to 5. They use up their stored fat resources to nourish them as they sleep curled up in a ball. When they wake up, they eat the food that they set aside in the fall including seeds, grains, and nuts. They also love to snack on grasshoppers and literally pounce on them every chance they get.

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels eat grasses, weeds, seeds, and crops. They also eat earthworms and insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, and ants.

Distribution and status:
You’ll find the 13-lined ground squirrel in prairies and fields, brushy areas, and in small stands of trees. Their only predators are hawks, weasels, badgers, dogs, and cats. Road traffic and flooding are also hazards.


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