Oban's Myths & Legends
How Beaver Stole Fire From The Pines
Native American - Nez Perce story
retold by Oban
A long time ago, before there were any people in the world, animals and trees walked and talked to each other as people do now.
In those days, only the pine trees had the secret of fire, and they kept it to themselves. They wouldn’t share it with other types of trees, or any of the animals.
Only the Pines could keep warm in winter and no matter how cold it got, they wouldn’t share the secret of fire with anyone else.
“Please, please tell us the secret of fire.” the animals and other trees begged as they shivered in the winter wind. “We are so cold.”
The Pines looked down their mighty trunks and said “Go away before we step on you. The secret of fire is only for us pine trees.”
One winter it was even colder than usual and everyone else nearly froze to death. A meeting was called and Beaver told the others he had a plan to steal fire from the Pines.
“The Pines are going to hold a big meeting on the banks of the Grande Ronde River in Idaho. They will build a large fire to keep themselves warm.” Beaver explained.
“I will hide close to the river bank. When the Pines aren’t looking I will steal some of the fire and run away with it. If groups of you wait along the river I will share the fire with you all,” said Beaver.
“We’ve tried to steal fire from the Pines before and it’s never worked.” howled Coyote. “That’s right,” whispered a willow. “The Pines wouldn’t give us any fire when we begged them, so how will you be able to do it?”
“I’m a Beaver with a plan, and I know I can!” said Beaver.
Everyone agreed that Beaver should try, because without fire they would freeze to death. They wished him good luck and Beaver dived into the river and swam to the place where he knew the Pines would hold their meeting.
He hid in the reeds and waited through the rest of the day and into the night.