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Main > United States folktales > Fairy tale "The Girl Who Climbed to the Sky"

The Girl Who Climbed to the Sky

LONG AGO in a Native American village, there once lived a lovely girl named Sapana who was peculiar in one respect - she loved and admired birds of prey. She found fascinating the circling of the hawk, the wide wingspan of the eagle, even the swoopings of the buzzard. These noble birds, she felt, couldn't be faulted for enjoying the taste of meat - after all, weren't her own people also hunters? In the fields, Sapana would leave scraps of meat on the ground for her feathered friends and they came to look forward to her treats.

One day, Sapana found an injured hawk lying on the ground, its wing speared by a porcupine quill. She wondered if the poor creature would allow her to approach it. But the hawk didn't seem distressed by her presence, so she gingerly stepped forward. Holding the bird with one hand, she eased out the quill with the other. The bird squawked, flapped its wings and flew upward. Then the sound of another bird in distress. A magnificent eagle also lay on the ground, injured by a porcupine quill. She removed that offending spine, too. Then at the foot of a cottonwood tree she saw the culprit - a porcupine.

"How dare you!" she cried to the porcupine. Turning to her friends, she called, "Natane! Ethete! Let's catch this porcupine - we'll get enough quills to embroider moccasins for three winters." She ran toward the porcupine but it scampered up the tree. "I'll get you, you rodent," she muttered, climbing up the wide tree trunk. Sapana was a fast climber, but the porcupine was even faster.

"Sapana, come down! You're too high! We can't see you anymore!" her friends called out. But if Sapana heard them, she did not care. She would climb to the very top of the tree if she had to, and then the porcupine would have nowhere else to go. But the tree seemed to somehow extend itself even higher as she climbed. Just when she thought she had nearly reached the treetop, there was yet more of the trunk to climb. So up she climbed, through the clouds and then beyond them.

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