Native American Tales

The Meeting of the Wild Animals

The Meeting of the Wild AnimalsThe Meeting of the Wild Animals


The Tsimshian were very good hunters and they hunted year round. All of the animals began to fear for their lives. A bear called a meeting with the larger animals. He told them that they should get together and ask Him Who Made Us to give them a longer winter so the people could not hunt them so much. It was determined that they should also ask the smaller animals as well.

The agenda of the meeting was to ask Him Who Made Us for cold winters, colder than the man could imagine and long winters as well. They proposed their idea to the small animals. Porcupine finally spoke up. Cold winters would be fine for the big animals who had lots of fur, but what about insects and other small animals without a lot of fur? How were they going to stay warm? This was a good point.

Porcupine had another point. The really cold winter would freeze many of the roots that produced berries and other things the big animals ate. The smaller animals would survive because they could eat bark and such.

Porcupine bit his thumb off to show the other animals how sincere he was about all of this.

The large animals appointed porcupine as their wise man. They agreed on six months of winter and six months of summer. There would be abundance in the summer and when winter came around, all the animals, both large and small, would take to their dens. Porcupine is the only one who stays awake during the winter. He goes visiting. Anyone who didn’t agree with porcupine was struck dead with porcupine’s tail. This is why animals are afraid of porcupine.


Porcupines are certainly not the only animals that don’t hibernate. If you live in the southern part of the United States, or other parts of the world for that matter, a lot of animals stay out all winter. They don’t go hole up in some cave. Snakes are less of a bother in the winter, but animals are still in swing all winter long, at least in my experience.

Animals aren’t scared of Porcupine because he spoke up in a meeting; they’re scared of him because porcupine quills hurt, not that I’ve ever experienced this personally, but I’m sure they’re not fun. It’s still a neat story though.


This whole story screams at me that you have to be reasonable. Sure, you may want ice cream for breakfast every day– but you know, what about nutrients? What about sugar content? What about carbs? What about tooth enamel? What about ice cream headaches? Ice cream for breakfast may sound like a great thing, in moderation, but you eat ice cream for breakfast everyday and you may have some problems as a result. We can’t spend the whole year in winter, nor can our winters be overly severe.

We’ve had some severe winters since I’ve been alive and it takes a toll. The heat goes out. Ice breaks lots of trees. Elderly people go without heat. The poorer people simply don’t have enough money to keep their houses heated through winter and people do die from it. If we had a severe winter every single year, it would be difficult for us to bounce back in the intervening months. How could we ever get much of anywhere?

The porcupine was certainly the voice of reason in this story.


Let’s all be reasonable about this winter thing.

Weigh In

If you could extend one season, which would it be?

Do you think it’s ever good to have too much of one thing?


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