Native American Tales

How Beaver Stole Fire From the Pines

How Beaver Stole Fire From the PinesHow Beaver Stole Fire From the Pines

Nez Perce

Before there were people, all the animals and plants talked together as people do. Nobody had fire, except for the pines; everyone else was always in danger of freezing to death. One winter, the animals and plants got together and decided to get some fire from the pines.

The pines were having a meeting, but Beaver had hid nearby. One of the coals came close enough to him that he grabbed it and ran. The pine trees started after him. The beaver would run curves and then straight along the river, to this day the Grande Ronde river runs the same path that Beaver ran.

Beaver finally crossed the river and gave fire to willows, birches, and several other trees. To this day you can make fire from any of these trees, if you do it the old-fashioned way. The pine trees stood beside the river where they had been chasing Beaver and they’re there to this day. Cedar went up a hill to look for Beaver and stayed there. That’s why there’s a lone cedar on a hill.


I looked up the Grande Ronde River and it’s just every bit as snaky as this story makes it out to be. There are indeed some straighter patches and then some incredibly curvy patches. It doesn’t compare to the Snake River, which is as curvy as all get out, but it’s still pretty curvy.

There are some types of wood that are easier to make friction fires out of, that’s when you rub two sticks together, usually as a bow drill. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve seen Kody Lundin do it plenty of times on television. Maybe I could replicate it if I had to, but I doubt it.


I think heat is kind of one of those indisputable human rights. Everyone has the right to be warm. Everyone has the right to air. Everyone has the right to water. Everyone has the right to the sun. Everyone has the right to food. You can’t take something that is a human right and hoard it to yourself. That’s not how being a human being works.

I really don’t care how special someone thinks they are, they don’t have the right to take away basic human rights away from everyone else, plus, I really don’t like pine trees.


Don’t hide the fire.

Weigh In

If you were a pine tree, would you feel bad about hoarding fire or would you hoard away?

Do you think heat is a human right?


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