The Markings on the Birch Trees

One day, Wisakecahk had caught many birds. He made a fire, plucked some birds and prepared to cook them. He placed the unplucked birds in rolls of birchbark while roasting the others.

Wisakecahk decided to wait a while before eating, even though he was very hungry. He thought it would be a good way to test his endurance. He saw a pair of birch trees standing together and lay between them.

He told them, “Move closer together and hold me until I am very hungry. Other-wise I may be tempted to start eating too soon.” The birch trees did as they were told.

A Whiskey-Jack came and perched on a nearby tree. Seeing him, Wisakecahk cried, “You foolish little bird, don’t you dare invite anyone to my feast!”

This had not occurred to the Whiskey-Jack but now he was off like a shot. Here was a good chance to punish Wisakecahk for his earlier tricks. He invited every creature in the forest to the feast. In a very short while nothing but bones were left.

In dismay, Wisakecahk desperately tired to free himself, but the birch trees held fast. He pulled and twisted and begged the birches to let him go, but they pretended not to hear. Finally, tired out, he fell asleep.

Suddenly, he awoke to find a Buzzard pecking at his eyes. With a mighty heave, he tore himself free. He grabbed the Buzzard, wrung its neck and plucked the feathers off its head at the same time. Today, this bird is bald and has a red, inflamed neck.

Wisakecahk then turned his attention to the birch trees who had not listened to him. He took four willows and whipped the birches until the willows were shreds. Ever since, birch trees have these marks on their bark. He also declared they could only grow in moist, low-lying country.