Oban's Myths & Legends
Why The Owl Has Big Eyes
Native American - Iroquois story
retold by Oban
A long time ago, Raweno the Everything-Maker spirit made all the animals, birds, reptiles and insects. It was a big job.
First he made each body, choosing fur, skin or feathers that looked right. Then he gave each one a say in how their body should be completed – shape of ears, legs, tail or no tail and so on. Raweno was very busy.
One day when he was working on Rabbit, Owl was sitting in a tree nearby, waiting his turn.
“Whoo, whoo” cried out Owl, impatiently.
“Be quiet Owl,” said Raweno. “I will get to you next. Turn around and close your eyes. You know that no-one is supposed to watch me work on other animals.”
Owl stamped up and down on the branch, but closed his eyes. Raweno began shaping Rabbit’s hind legs.
“May I please have long legs and ears like Deer?” asked Rabbit. “Of course you can,” said Raweno. “I always try to make animals how they want to be.” He made Rabbit’s hind legs longer, and then stopped to admire them.
“Thank you,” said Rabbit, wriggling his new long legs. “And could I have sharp fangs and claws like Panther? Some of the other animals can be mean and might try to hurt me.”
“Certainly,” said Raweno. “I will always give animals what they want. Let me work on your ears next, and then your front legs.”
Raweno shaped Rabbit’s ears very long, the way he wanted them.
Owl became impatient again. “Whoo, whoo” he cried. “I want a nice long neck like Swan. And beautiful red feathers like Cardinal, and a long beak like Egret’s!”
“Be quiet, Owl” said Raweno sharply. “I have to finish making Rabbit first. Now turn around and close your eyes.”
“Whoo, whoo” cried Owl again. “I want a beautiful crown of plumes like Heron’s and I want you to make me into the fastest, most beautiful, most wonderful bird of all.”
“Stop that noise” said Raweno. “I can’t think properly. Turn around, close your eyes, and keep quiet.”
“Whoo, whoo” cried Owl loudly as he stamped up and down on the branch. “You can forbid me to watch, but I won’t turn around and I won’t close my eyes. If I want to watch, I will!”