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Beaver Builds a Slide, a Shoshone Tale
By: Staff at

(This story was submitted to us by Batsy Bybell.)

Back in the beginning, beavers had tails that looked very much like an otterís tail, long and narrow and covered with hair. In the middle of winter, Slider the otter was swimming in the cold river. She climbed onto a snowy bank, threw herself down in a belly-flop on her stomach and slid down the slide, like a kid playing on a snowy hill. Whuh whuh whoosh Slip slide swoosh.

It was too much fun. She laughed, climbed up higher, and slid down again. Whuh whuh whoosh Slip slide swoosh.

Slider saw Beaver the builder dragging a tree branch he had chewed down to repair his dam. "Come on Beaver, come and play with me. All you do is work all day, itís time to have some fun. Try sliding down my slide."

Beaver looked, "Doesnít look like all that much fun. Sliding down a slippery hill on your stomach, Iíd rather be working on my dam."

Slider kept at him, "You wonít know until you try it. Come on." Beaver climbed out of the water and slid down the chute, slowly. Whuh whuh whoosh Slip slide swoosh.

"You know, thatís isnít very well built. The slide isnít long enough, the shoot isnít smooth enough, the water isnít deep enough. Trust an otter not to know how to build anything."

Slider laughed, "If you know so much, Iíd like to see what type of slide you build."

Beaver replied, "I could design a better one than that and I will." He started to climb up Cinnabar Mountain, a hard job with his short little legs. He chewed down trees by gnawing them with his sharp orange teeth, smooth the snow in the chute by patting it with his webbed feet, pushed rocks out of the path with his broad blunt nose. It was hard work, but by the end of the day Beaver stood at the top of Cinnabar Mountain. Below him was a long smooth slide that curled and twisted around the terrain until it dropped with a swoosh into the river.

It was time to try it out. It looked steep...and dangerous. He stood at the top and thought about speeding down on his stomach. No.

He thought about standing up while going down, like a snowboarder. No.

He thought about going down on his head. No.

He thought about his back. No.

He decided it would be safer sitting down. He hunkered down, but decided at the last minute to grab his furry narrow tail and sit on it like a pillow. Holding fast to his tail, he shoved off and careened down the slope, faster and faster. Otter threw herself joyfully on her stomach and followed closely behind. Beaver leaned into the curves and steered past the bumps. The speed thrilled him until the SPLASH into cold water at the end. Otter tumbled quickly behind him, laughing at the way. Whuh whuh whoosh Slip slide swoosh.

"Whooeee! Letís do it again!" shouted Slider. "You are a master builder. What a slide."

"No, thatís OK. Just once for me."

"But Beaver, look at your tail. What happened to it?"

Beaver pulled himself out of the river, looking at his tail. It was now flat and shaped like a paddle. All the hair was scraped off by the wild ride. He flexed his tail and shook it, delighted with the possibilities. "I can use it to whap slap the water and warn everyone of danger." He dove into the water to try it out. WHAP SLAP, what a sound it made. "How wonderful, but itís back to work for me, Otter."

And since that day all Beavers have a paddle-shaped tail as they work hard every fall and winter to build and repair lodges and dams. And Otters, well Otters are still the same. They love to laugh and play on the icy slopes, sliding all day long. Whuh whuh whoosh Slip slide swoosh!

Author Information:
Name: Staff at
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