Native American Tales

The Great Race

The Great RaceThe Great Race


All the animals and all the people used to be able to talk to one another. They also didn’t eat the flesh of any other animal. After a time, the buffalo believed that it was big enough that it should be able to be more powerful than other animals. It believed that it should be able to kill other animals and eat their flesh.

Man didn’t think this was fair. They decided to have a race to see which animal would be entitled to eat the flesh of other animals. At first, it was just going to be buffalo and humans, but the humans said it was not fair that buffalo had four legs instead of two, so man should be allowed to have birds help him in the race. Buffalo agreed to this, but other animals wanted to run as well.

Animals used to be all the same color, but they put on paints for the race and to this day they still wear those colors.

The race started and seemed to be close for a bit, but the buffalo were ahead. When one bird got tired, another would take its place. On the last bit of the trip it seemed as if the buffalo might win, but one bird pulled ahead just in time, it was the magpie. The people won the right to eat other animals and the buffalo lost.


This is a multi-origin story. It’s the origin of why people eat meat, but it’s also the origin of why animals have the colors they do. It’s all more biology than this story, but the story is also interesting. We eat meat because we had to have something to eat. We’re from an omnivorous branch of the animal family. We get nutrients from meat that we may not get elsewhere. It’s just how it has been.

Animals are the colors they are due to their environments. They evolved that way to survive in their surroundings or get mates.


I haven’t decided whether or not I think this race was fair. Yes, buffalo can run faster than people, but is a bird helping the humans in the race by flying fair? Maybe nobody was fair.

Humans have some advantages over animals in that we can make tools and program computers and stuff. We tend to be smarter than animals. We don’t know if that’s always true. I don’t think science has been able to intelligence test animals thoroughly enough to determine that, say, an elephant, is smarter than a person. As we know it, we’re the smartest. So it kind of makes sense that we have dominion over the other animals.

You know what, take that you stupid shallow jerks from school; we have been able to have a prowess over animals not because we’re better-looking, bigger, or more trendy than other animals, we were able to do it because we were smarter than other animals. That essentially means we’re the nerds of the animal world. So bullying someone for being a nerd is just counter-productive.

In this story, humans outsmart the buffalo by using some logic and they won the race, by being smart, not by being the fastest. So really, being smart is probably more important than being fast, or strong, or good-looking.


So because we were smart at this race, we can eat bacon now. It was probably worth it.

Weigh In

What would you do to win this race?

Thinking on an individual who has “traditional” good qualities, do you think they get by in life by simply possessing those qualities or do they also have to be smart? Does a “dumb” pretty girl simply get things in life because she’s pretty, or does she still have to be witty about the world?


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