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Native American Folklore - The Mud Pony

Updated: Feb 9

Depending on which source you look at, today is Native American Day and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to share some Native American Folklore. Native American history holds a special place in my heart, their stories are rich and I'm always fascinated by it. I happen to have the book, The Mud Pony, by Caron Lee Cohen in my home library so I reread it and felt like sharing it with you. This retelling is beautifully illustrated by Native American artist Shonto Begay.


This story is told among the Skidi, Wolf, band of the Pawnee Indians of the western plains. This moving story tells of a boy too poor to have a pony of his own but gentle enough in spirit for Mother Earth to guard him and eventually help him to become a chief of his people. Through a series of struggles, the pony he fashions out of mud comes to life to him and helps him along his journey - telling him, "You are not alone, Mother Earth has given me to you. I am part of her". The boy is able to prevail with his Pony and Mother Earth by his side.

There is a Scholastic Discussion Guide:

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plans/teaching-content/mud-pony-discussion-guide/


If you're interested in looking into the artist that illustrated the book, check out this link from Teaching Books for more of his work:

https://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?aid=3238


Here is another version of this folk tale from First People:

https://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheMudPony-Pawnee.html


Today, the Skidi Pawnee people are enrolled in the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and this is their website:

https://www.pawneenation.org/page/home/pawnee-history


Something that was significant to the Skidi Pawnee were Stars and Astrology... To the Skidi, the sky was the deity “Tirawahut,” the “place of origin.” A buckskin chart, while not being a literal map of the sky, shows how specific stars and star patterns were significant to the Skidi.



Here is some interesting information regarding the stars:

https://stardate.org/radio/program/2018-10-30


More about their Astronomy:

https://pages.vassar.edu/realarchaeology/2019/11/24/native-american-astronomy-skidi-pawnee/


While we cannot visit the planetarium to view the Skidi Pawnee show, Spirits from the Sky, Thunder on the Land, here is a PDF Star Map that you can use at home this fall, as well as a link to the planetariums teaching guide:

Guide:

https://museum.unl.edu/file_download/inline/a29d6d22-8807-467d-bd9f-b8d96751122e


2020 Star Map:

https://www.parkland.edu/Portals/3/Planetarium/Documents/Star%20charts/2020-autumn.pdf?ver=2020-09-23-110413-617


I hope that all of this information helps you celebrate just a small bit of the nations rich Native American history. What take aways do you have from the story of the Mud Pony? Do you plan on viewing the night sky like the Pawnee? Use the hashtag #LearningFunWithLaura when you share, so I'm sure to see it. :)


-Laura


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