Native American Tales

Adventures of Great Rabbit

Adventures of Great RabbitAdventures of Great Rabbit


Wildcat used to have a long tail and one day he decided that he wanted to have Mahtigwess, the great rabbit himself for dinner. Mahtigwess could sense when people were thinking about him, so when he found out that Wildcat wanted him for dinner, he hopped off and away, each hop being a mile. Wildcat swore that if he didn’t catch Mahtigwess, his tail should fall off.

Mahtigwess hopped for some time, but eventually settled down in an empty plain of snow, Wildcat was not far away, but when Wildcat came to the spot there was wigwam with a chief inside, with rabbit-like ears on his head. Wildcat asked if he had seen the great rabbit and the chief said no, but that Wildcat should stay the night and start his hunt afresh in the morning and there was also stew. Wildcat woke up in the morning in the middle of a field. There had been no wigwam and no stew. Wildcat chased on.

Mahtigwess hopped for some time before settled down again. This time Wildcat found an entire village of people. There was even a church. Inside the church was a preacher. When Wildcat tried to ask about the great rabbit, he was told to be quiet because church was going on. The preacher preached about large animals ripping smaller animals to shreds. After the sermon, Wildcat asked around and was told to go see a wise old man. This man had strangely long ears and knew nothing about great rabbit, but told Wildcat that he would be fed and his daughters would take care of him. The next morning, he awoke in nowhere. There had been no village. Wildcat chased on.

Mahtigwess next made a longhouse. Wildcat found this too and there was a feast and singing contest going on. Wildcat was urged to participate. He sang a song about how much he hated rabbits. He was told he won, but instead of a prize, he got a tomahawk blow to the head. The long house disappeared. Wildcat chased on.

Wildcat found two wigwams, one held a chief, and the other, his daughter. He was told he would be taken care of, but Wildcat was suspicious because of Mahtigwess’s previous tricks. The chief’s nose was split like a rabbit’s, but the chief had a good reason, it was a disfiguring accident. What about the longish scalp locks? That’s how his people wore their hair. What about the yellow-soled feet? The chief had been working with tobacco, the stain would come off in a couple of days. Wildcat, of course, once again, found himself in nowhere. There hadn’t been wigwams and he had been eating rabbit pellets and drinking old water. Wildcat chased on.

Mahtigwess had enough magic for one last trick. Wildcat found a great ship, like the French ships, in the water. There was a ship captain, who wore white fluffy plumes on each side of his helmet. Wildcat guessed that this was the rabbit, but as he came close to the ship, the captain ordered canons and guns fired at Wildcat. They were all fake and conjured up, of course, but Wildcat did not know this and ran away. This was the last time he chased Mahtigwess and his tail did fall off. Now Wildcat has a short bobbed tail.


Bobbed tail cats simply have a genetic spinal deformity. It’s not anything particularly special about the cat and their tails did not fall off. It’s a spinal deformity. I actually used to have a cat with a bobbed tail at one point. It was just a little nub of a tail and that was it. The entire bobcat species carries this genetic mutation. There is no doubt that it probably helps going through brush and woods without having a big, long tail.

Mahtigwess is a trickster, which is something that has been mentioned in several tales so far. Think of tricksters as more than human with a mischievous streak. They have the power to be tricky and they kind of enjoy tricking all kinds of people, whether they actually deserve it or not.


Maybe you think it’s a sure thing, whatever it is you’re setting out to do, but it’s not always a sure thing. You may have all the confidence in the world about it, but it may not happen. There is always this chance that things will not turn out as you except, even if they’ve turned out that way two-hundred times before. Wildcat was pretty sure of himself, but he had never been up against Mahtigwess before. Going up against someone or something, one never has gone up against, is not the time to be betting your tail.

The best takeaway from this story is to be cautious of who you’re dealing with. They might be able to do things that you couldn’t imagine.


Rabbit pellets…ha!

Weigh In

Could you outsmart rabbit?

Are trickster rabbits for kids?


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