(Tlingit - Pacific Northwest)
There once was a young woman who was very proud. She was
the daughter of the town chief and her family was very respected. Many of the young men wanted to marry her, but she
thought none of them were good enough for her. One day, she
was walking with her sister beside the big lake near their village.
There were many frogs in that lake. A large number of them
were sitting on a mud bank in the middle of the lake and she
began to make fun of them.
"How ugly these frogs are," she said. Then she bent over and
picked one up which was sitting on the muddy shore and
looking up at her. "You are so ugly," she said to the frog. "Even
another frog would not want to marry you!" Then she threw the
frog back into the lake.
That night, when she stepped outside of her lodge to walk while
the others were sleeping, she was surprised to see a young man
standing there. His clothing was decorated with green beads and
he seemed very handsome.
"I have come to marry you," the young man said. "Come with
me to my father's house."
The young woman agreed. She thought she had never seen such
a handsome man before and wanted to be his wife.
"We must climb the hill to go to my father's house," the young
man said and he pointed towards the lake. They began to walk
down toward the water, but it seemed to the young woman
they were climbing a hill. When they reached the water they did
not stop, but they went under.
The next day, her family noticed that she was missing. They
searched for her everywhere and when they found her tracks
leading to the water, they decided she had drowned. They beat
the drums for a death feast. People cut their hair and blackened
their faces and mourned.
One day, though, a man walked down by the lake. When he
looked out towards its middle he saw on the mud bank many
frogs sitting there. There, in the midst of the frogs, was the
chief's missing daughter. He began to wade in toward them, but
they leaped into the water, taking the young woman with them.
The man went as quickly as he could to the chief's house. "I
have seen you daughter," he said. "She had been taken by the
frogs. I tried to reach her, but the Frog People took her with
them under the water."
The young woman's father and mother went down to the lake.
There they saw their daughter sitting on the mud bank surrounded by the Frog People. As before, when they tried to reach
her, the frogs dove in and carried her under the lake with them.
Then the chief's other daughter spoke.
"My sister insulted the frogs," she said, "That is why they have
The chief saw then what he must do. He made offerings to the
Frog People, asking them to forgive his daughter. They placed
dishes of food on the surface of the water. The dishes floated
out and then sank. But the frogs would not give up the young
woman. They placed robes of fine skins on the bank. The
young woman and the Frog People came to the bank and took
those robes, but when the chief came close, the Frog People
drew her back into the lake. The frogs would not give her up.
At last the chief made a plan. He gathered together all of the
people in the village.
"We will dig a trench," he said. "We will drain away the water
of the lake and rescue my daughter."
The people worked for a long time and the water began to drain
away. The Frog People tried to fill the trench with mud, but
they could not stop the water from flowing out. The frogs tried
to drive the people away, but the people only picked the frogs
up and dropped them back into the water. They were careful
not to hurt any of the frogs, but they did not stop digging the
trench. The water continued to flow out and the homes of the
Frog People were being destroyed. At last the chief of the frogs
decided. It was his son who had married the young woman.
"We are not strong enough to fight these humans, he said. "We
must give my new daughter back to her people."
So they brought the young woman to the trench. Her father
and mother saw her and they pulled her out. She was covered
with mud and smelled like a frog. One frog leaped out of the
water after her. It was the frog who had been her husband. But
the people carefully picked him up and dropped him back into
They took the young woman home. For a long time she could
only speak as a frog does, "Huh, Huh, Huh!" Finally she
learned to speak like a human again.
"The frogs know our language." she told the people. "We must
not talk badly about them."
From that day on, her people showed great respect to the frogs.
They learned the songs that the woman brought from the Frog
People and they used the frog as an emblem. They had learned
a great lesson. They never forgot what happened to that young
woman who was too proud. To this day, some people in that
village still say when they hear the frogs singing in the lake, the
frogs are telling their children this story, too.
Reprinted with permission from Keepers of the Animals:
Native Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children
by Michael J.
Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
(Fifth House Publishers, 1991).