field notes ➤ W. O. Tuggle, 1881


Far back in the old days all the animals determined to have a big ball play.

The four footed animals with the alligators were chosen for one side, & all the fowls & birds, including the eagle, were on the other side. All the preparations were made, the ground selected, the poles erected, the ball conjured & the game began, after dancing around the poles & whooping at each other.

The ball was thrown in the air & as it came down the alligator opened wide his mouth & caught the ball. Away he ran, waddling along through the other animals while the birds & fowls flew & fluttered around his head but were afraid to put their heads between his glittering teeth. All was dismay & the birds were in despair.

The animals cheered the alligator & his wife clapped her hands, exclaiming, “Look, everybody look! See the little striped alligator’s daddy—how he catches & carries the ball. Just look at him,” and she screamed till she cried.

The eagle flew on high, sailing round & round till he seemed a mere speck in the sky. Suddenly he darted down like an arrow from the clouds & struck the alligator on the nose, broke it & out fell the ball, which a bird seized and carried between the poles, & won the game.

Ever since that time alligators have had a broken nose— ❞

Shem, Ham & Japheth: The Papers of W. O. Tuggle, Comprising His
Indian Diary, Sketches & Observations, Myths & Washington Journal
in the Territory & at the Capital, 1879-1882

edited by Eugene Current-Garcia and Dorothy B. Hatfield
(University of Georgia Press, 1973)

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