Porcupine, Eleanor Kanasawe, Print, MM249.150

The story of Porcupine’s quills illustrates smart problem solving. Porcupine was always being hunted by Bear. One day Porcupine was pricked by a hawthorn tree and thought he could use the branches to protect himself from Bear. He put some branches on his back and waited for Bear. When Bear attacked, Porcupine rolled into a ball. Bear ran away because the thorns from Porcupine’s back pricked him badly.

Nanabush saw how Porcupine protected himself and decided to help. He took hawthorn branches and peeled off the bark. Using clay, he stuck the thorns to Porcupine’s back, and made them part of his skin.

After he finished, Nanabush sent Porcupine back into the woods. Wolf tried to attack him, but ran away pricked and Bear never bothered him again.

Re-told from George E. Laidlaw, "Ojibwa Myths and Tales", cited in Ella E. Clark, Indian Legends of Canada