Native American Myths

Why Opossum has a Pouch

(Koasati Tribe)
retold by
S. E. Schlosser

One evening, Opossum was playing in a field with her babies when Big Bat came swooping down and grabbed all of the little ones and carried them away. Opossum shouted and begged for Bat to bring her babies back to her, but he would not. Bat put the little opossums into a deep hole in the rock and watched over them there.

Opossum walked around and around the forest, crying for her babies. When Wolf heard her wails, he came to her and asked what was wrong. "Big Bat has taken my babies from me and he will not give them back," she told him.

"I will get them for you," Wolf said. "if you show me where they are."

So Opossum showed Wolf the deep hole in the rock where Bat watched over her babies. Wolf bravely walked into the darkness. But a moment later she heard him cursing, and then he came running back outside saying, "I am sorry, but I cannot retrieve your babies."

So Opossum kept walking around and around the forest, crying for her babies. When Rabbit heard her wails, he came to her and asked what was wrong. "Big Bat has taken my babies from me and he will not give them back," she told him.

"I will get them for you," Rabbit said. "if you show me where they are."

So Opossum showed Rabbit the deep hole in the rock where Bat watched over her babies. Rabbit boldly walked into the darkness. But a moment later she heard him cursing, and then he came running back outside saying, "I am sorry, but I cannot retrieve your babies."

Opossum was frantic now. Brave Wolf and Bold Rabbit had been unable to retrieve her babies. She walked around and around the forest, crying hysterically for her babies. When Highland-Terrapin heard her wails, he came to her and asked what was wrong. "Big Bat has taken my babies from me and he will not give them back," she told him.

"I will get them for you," Highland-Terrapin said. "if you show me where they are."

Opossum showed Highland-Terrapin the deep hole in the rock where Bat watched over her babies. Highland-Terrapin carefully walked into the darkness. A moment later she heard him cursing. Big Bat had thrown hot ashes down in the path in front of him, burning his large flat feet. But Highland Terrapin kept going in spite of the pain. He could see the little opossums huddled together a few paces away. They were crying for their mother. Highland-Terrapin saw Big Bat hovering above them, and he scolded Bat for stealing the babies from their mother. Highland-Terrapin picked up the little opossums and carried them out of the deep, dark hole. Big Bat dove at him a few times, but he kept bouncing off the terrapin's hard shell before he could reach the babies. Finally, Bat gave up and flew away.

Highland-Terrapin cut a hole in the belly of the happy Opossum mama and placed her babies inside it. "You keep your babies in there until they stop nursing," he told her. "When they no longer need milk to drink, you can let them out."

From that day onward, Opossum mamas have carried their little babies in a pouch until they are old enough to eat on their own.

 

You can read more Louisiana folktales in Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser.

Comments

thats kinda cool lol

Is that really how it happened? :D

wow???

when did this story originate?

That was a very cool story

WOW!!!!!is that what really happened

where did this story come from?

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