Coyote Stories

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/coyote.htm

Coyote Stories/Poems

Coyote Dance

Coyote, an interesting character, is found in Native cultures throughout North America.
In some stories, Coyote is the Creator or has the power of creation.

In others he’s a culture hero, battling supernatural enemies. At times he’s a messenger,
bringing culturally significant information to the people.

Sometimes he’s a trickster, outsmarting people and animal-people.
And still in others he’s a buffoon; he’s sex-crazed; he’s forever dying at the hands of a more clever being.

These stories are meant to entertain, instruct, or do both.
In contemporary Coyote stories, the concept is the same,
although in most contemporary Coyote stories he’s a buffoon of sorts.

Jicarilla Apache Coyote Stories

The coyote cycle is a series of tales or episodes involving the travels and adventures of the trickster, Coyote.
For any one story-teller, these tales or episodes had a fixed order in respect to one another,
though another story-teller’s account might run somewhat differently.
The manner of organizing these episodes seemed to depend more or less on family lines,
since the young of a given family group drew their inspiration from some venerable
relative and carried on his version of the proper way to relate the antics of Coyote.

Stories

Antelopes Take Arrows from Coyote 1
Antelopes Take Arrows from Coyote 2

A Coyote’s Tales (Tohono O’odham – Papago)

by Bill McCarron

Late in August, just as the days were approaching their shortest length, the last group of visitors moved past the coyote exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

“The Museum closes in five minutes,” a docent (trained volunteer) told the visitors.

“Look at what the sign says,” a tall, thin-legged man told his friends. “Darn coyotes are scavengers. Says they eat rabbits, mice, even cactus. Cows, too, my brother tells me.”

Juanita the Coyote was pacing her area, head drooping and tongue hanging out at the fading late afternoon sun.

“That coyote sure is scrawny. His coat looks like it could use a trip to the dry cleaners,” a female visitor said.

“It is a female coyote, ma’am,” the docent corrected.

“Hey, you scruffy, mangy, overgrown dog!” the thin-legged man yelled.

Juanita stopped her pacing and sat on the ground facing the visitors. She held her head high and let out a long, menacing howl.

The three straggling visitors jumped back. Juanita ended her howl, turned abruptly, and strode off to her den.

“That’s the five o’clock whistle, folks,” the patient docent said. “Please, let’s move toward the exit so our animals can have their evening meal in peace.”

A full moon was rising into the night sky as Juanita lay in a corner of her den catering to her brood of pups. Walter, her husband, dosed in the far corner, resting up for his own concert of howls that he would give once the moon had risen to its highest point.

Several of the pups finished their meal and licked each other’s noses and mouths.

Stephanie Coyote, the runt of the litter but the most outspoken, said in the loudest voice she could manage, “Mother, please tell us one of your tales about running free in the wild.”

“I will, Stephanie, but only if you lower your voice. Your father is sleeping.”

“Sorry, mother,” Stephanie said in a whisper.

“I want a story, too,” Guillermo said. “If Stephanie gets one, I want one, too,” he sulked.

“Children, please bide your time. I usually recite only one bedtime story each night. In honor of the full moon which coyotes love so much, I will tell a Stephanie tale and a Guillermo tale this evening.”

All six pups quickly gathered around their mother in a semi-circle.

The Tale of What Juanita Ate in the Wild

“Here at the Museum,” Juanita began, “the keepers feed us and we don’t have to worry about hunting for rats or beetles or an occasional wounded bird.

Out there in the wild, things are very different. A coyote is only as strong as her next meal, particularly when she has hungry pups to feed.”

“What did you eat out there beyond the fences, mother?” Stephanie asked impatiently.

Juanita held the tip of her paw to her mouth, signaling silence. She did not like interruptions when she was telling her tales, except when the interruption was invited. She waited a full minute until all six of her children were paying attention.

“Out there we chased down the human’s cows one night and their sheep the next,” she said and showed her flashing coyote teeth.

“Really?” Benita Coyote uttered in amazement.

“No, children, we don’t chase cows and sheep. Coyotes rarely attack the human’s animals, though the humans blame us nearly every time one of their animals is mutilated. Humans rarely blame the wolves or the mountain lions or their neighbors’ dogs.”

“Like what Victor the mountain lion did to the deer,” Alfred said, remembering the story which his mother had told him about the puma’s attack back in the summer.

“Correct, Alfred. My diet was mostly made up of small wild animals which I encountered during my hunts. Field mice in the spring. An unwary rabbit in early summer. Grasshoppers in late summer were always plentiful. The fall and winter presented the hardest times because cold weather in the mountains keeps many wild animals and insects underground.

Still, I managed to feed on wild berries. The early fall was the best because the birds would come and gorge on overripe berries, then fall to the ground and stagger around because the berries made them dizzy. Oh, the birds I have eaten: blue jays and pine jays; tanagers and warblers; purple martins and finches. My favorite has always been the white-winged dove. They were plump and juicy and delightful to a coyote’s taste buds.”

“Did you ever kill one of the human’s animals, mother?” Benita asked meekly.

“Only once, Benita. During one harsh winter, ice and snow covered the mountain meadows and trees. I had eaten only nuts and bits of dried cactus which I had stored in my den. I was starving. I headed for lower ground where I knew the humans lived in greater numbers. One moonlit night I snuck into a hen house and stole two chickens. The whole hen house was in an uproar. I knew the humans would come and investigate. So, I ran as fast as a coyote can with two chickens in its mouth.”

“What did the humans do?” Benita asked.

“A man pointed a long rod in my direction. I heard a small clap of thunder and something whizzed by my head.”

“That would be a rifle like the keepers sometimes carry,” Tomas, the most observant coyote pup, added.

“Yes, I believe it was a rifle, Tomas. In any event, I dropped one of the chickens during my escape, but I carried the other to a safe distance before having dinner.”

Juanita adjusted herself slightly and continued. “I have eaten other human food which they have discarded along roads or hiking paths: potato chips, hamburger rolls, bits of something called hot dogs, for example. These foods are okay, but I really prefer my food uncooked.”

“I tasted a piece of crunchy orange corn which a human tossed in our exhibit last week,” Stephanie said. “It tasted yukky. I like the food the keepers give us.”

In the far corner of the den, Walter let out a hearty coyote yawn.

“Children, I think your father wants to go out and get ready to howl at the full moon,” Juanita said.

“Can we go, too?” the coyote pups said in unison.

“Only grown coyotes can howl at the harvest moon,” Walter instructed as he passed his children, bending down and licking each one, in turn, with the tip of his tongue. “You children can listen to the second tale your mother promised while I serenade in the distance.” And, with that, Walter pranced outside into the light of the harvest moon.

The Tale about How Juanita Came to the Desert Museum

Benjamin, the shyest of the six coyote children, at last spoke up. “I know it is Guillermo’s turn for a second tale, but I’d like to hear once more the story about how you came to the Museum, mother. However, only if Guillermo agrees?” Benjamin said, lowering his head and afraid to look Guillermo in the face.

“Okay, okay,” Guillermo said, just a little irritated. “Tell the story that will make poor little Benjamin happy. Maybe then he won’t sulk and feel sorry for himself.”

“Each of us has different personalities,” Juanita said gently. “The humans think we are all the same because, to them, all coyotes look and act the same. Little do they know how different we can be, and that’s what the second tale is all about.” With that prologue, Juanita began her tale.

“Once upon a time, many moons ago, when I was very young and inexperienced I had my only other litter of pups. My husband at that time was a surly older coyote named Nicholas. Unlike your father, Walter, Nicholas was not a kind parent. He growled at our children constantly and forced me to do all the hunting while he lounged away in the den and did nothing. One day, because I had not returned with enough food to suit him, Nicholas bit me on the ear and began picking up my pups and started shaking them. I was fearful that he was actually going to eat them. That very night when he was sound asleep the children and I left quickly and followed a stream so it would hide our scent.”

“What did you do then, mother?” Benjamin asked, quivering with fear even though he was safe and was only listening to a story.

“We traveled for three days and nights without stopping, except to rest briefly and eat a few water beetles,” Juanita continued. “Travel by day can be very dangerous for a mother coyote and her siblings. We have our enemies, as I’ve told you. Mountain lions, like Victor, or a wandering bear or a large bobcat would consider small coyotes to be a hearty meal. But, thanks to the Great Coyote God in the sky who lives behind the moon, we all reached a remote area under the stream’s bank. There was a den close by.”

“That’s when you met Mario, the widowed coyote,” Benjamin inserted because he knew the story so well.

“Yes. Mario showed us his den and told us the tale of his dead wife, Sarah. Sarah had been killed by a hunter who used one of those flaming tubes.”

“Rifle, mother,” Tomas corrected.

“Thank you, Tomas. Yes, a rifle. Anyway, Mario was everything Nicholas was not. He was kind and patient. He hunted with me and later trained my children to hunt, too. But Mario was an old coyote and, as will happen to all of us, one moonlit night he told me, ‘Juanita, dearest, I am very tired. I am going out into the thicket and lie down and rest.'”

“That’s the animal way of saying, ‘I am going to die’,” Benjamin said.

“That is the usual way, children. All of us eventually get called to the coyote heaven of stars from whence we came,” Juanita said gently.

“Skip to the part about how you came here, mother,” Guillermo said impatiently.

Juanita did not appreciate this interruption. However, she only sighed and said, “It is getting quite late, and I am beginning to get tired,” Juanita said with a yawn.

“Mother, you’re not going to die, are you?” Benjamin howled in alarm.

“No, Benjamin. Life here at the Museum is much easier on a coyote, and I expect to live to see more passing moons.”

All six coyote children sighed and snuggled in closer to their mother.

“As I was saying, once my children were raised and out on their own and I had endured the winter of ice and snow, I decided to take what the humans call ‘early retirement.’ From the top of a hill just west of here, I saw one moonlit night that there was a coyote exhibit. I spied Walter pacing back and forth and knew that he was lonely. I thought to myself, ‘Juanita, how can you join him? You cannot just trot up to the admissions window and ask for a ticket.’ So, I thought and I thought and I thought. The answer was right before my very eyes, but it took me a long time to see it. The next moonlit night I crept to the cyclone fence near where the keepers store their work clothes. I sat, pointed my nose toward the sky, and began to howl. I prayed that the humans would know how to capture me. I prayed and prayed they would not shoot me with one of their rifles.”

“That is when you had some great coyote luck,” Stephanie said, unable to restrain herself. “The keeper on duty that night was Martin Lopez, the very keeper of our exhibit.”

“Stephanie, do you wish to finish my tale, or shall I?” Juanita asked, waiting for an answer.

“I’m sorry, mother.” Stephanie bowed her head. “Please continue.”

“Well, I will continue, but just with the conclusion to the tale. Mr. Lopez is a Tohono O’odham Indian and knows more about coyotes than any human being I have ever encountered. He let himself outside the gate and approached me slowly and with soothing words. He slipped a leash around my neck, and I let him lead me inside to an area I later learned was called the animal quarantine. For a month, I was given various shots and many medical tests. At long last, I was taken to Walter and properly introduced. We courted and fell in love. It took a while, but I finally had my second litter of pups. When you are grown, you will be taken to other places where you will prosper as I have here.”

“We are so glad you are our mother,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin and Alfred, Stephanie and Guillermo, Benita and Tomas approached quietly and each, in turn, gave their mother a coyote kiss.

Outside the den, the howling started as Walter began reciting his own coyote tale to the Coyote God behind the moon.

Martin Lopez, newly promoted to foreman of all the keepers, looked down on his coyote clan and smiled. He knew the tales they were sharing even though he had never heard them from Juanita’s or Walter’s mouths.

Balolookongwuu and the Coyote
Bluebird and the Coyote (Pima)

A long time ago the Bluebird’s feathers were a very dull ugly colour. It lived near a lake with waters of the most delicate blue which never changed because no stream flowed in or out. Because the bird admired the blue water, it bathed in the lake four times every morning for four days, and every morning it sang:

There’s a blue water.
It lies there.
I went in.
I am all blue.

 

On the fourth morning it shed all its feathers and came out in its bare skin, but on the fifth morning it came out with blue feathers.

All the while, Coyote had been watching the bird. He wanted to jump in and catch it for his dinner, but he was afraid of the blue water. But on the fifth morning he said to the Bluebird: “How is it that all your ugly colour has come out of your feathers, and now you are all blue and sprightly and beautiful? You are more beautiful than anything that flies in the air. I want to be blue, too.”

“I went in only four times,” replied the Bluebird. It then taught Coyote the song it had sung.

And so Coyote steeled his courage and jumped into the lake. For four mornings he did this, singing the song the Bluebird had taught him, and on the fifth day he turned as blue as the bird.

That made Coyote feel very proud. He was so proud to be a blue coyote that when he walked along he looked about on every side to see if anyone was noticing how fine and blue he was.

Then he started running along very fast, looking at his shadow to see if it also was blue. He was not watching the road, and presently he ran into a stump so hard that it threw him down upon the ground and he became dust-coloured all over. And to this day all coyotes are the colour of dusty earth.

Coyote (Costanoan)
Coyote and Badger (Hopi)
Coyote and Beaver (Apache)
Coyote and Beaver Play Tricks On Each Other (Apache)
Coyote and Beetle (Apache)
Coyote and Blue Bunting (Apache)
Coyote and Bobcat Scratch Each Other (Apache)
Coyote And Cloud (Achomawi)
Coyote and Creation
Coyote And His Children (Costanoan)
Coyote and His Mother-in-Law (Maidu)
Coyote And His Mother-In-Law (Apache)
Coyote and His Sister (Apache)
Coyote and His Sons (Wintu)
Coyote And His Wife (Costanoan)
Coyote and Muskrat (Maidu)
Coyote and the Hen (Mayan)
Coyote and Multnomah Falls (Wasco)

The Big River, or Great River, in the stories of the Northwest Indians is the Columbia. The Big Shining Mountains are the Rockies.

“Long, long ago, when the world was young and people had not come out yet,” said an elderly Indian years ago, “the animals and the birds were the people of this country. They talked to each other just as we do. And they married, too.”

Coyote (ki-o-ti) was the most powerful of the animal people, for he had been given special power by the Spirit Chief. For one thing, he changed the course of Big River, leaving Dry Falls behind. In some stories, he was an animal; in others he was a man, sometimes a handsome young man.

In that long ago time before this time, when all the people and all the animals spoke the same language, Coyote made one of his frequent trips along Great River. He stopped when he came to the place where the water flowed under the Great Bridge that joined the mountains on one side of the river with the mountains on the other side. There he changed himself into a handsome young hunter.

When travelling up the river the last time, he had seen a beautiful girl in a village not far from the bridge. He made up his mind that he would ask the girl’s father if he might have her for his wife. The girl’s father was a chief. When the handsome young man went to the chief’s lodge, he carried with him a choice gift for the father in return for his daughter.

The gift was a pile of the hides and furs of many animals, as many skins as Coyote could carry. He made the gift large and handsome because he had learned that the man who would become the husband of the girl would one day become the chief of the tribe.

The chief knew nothing about the young man except that he seemed to be a great hunter. The gift was pleasing in the father’s eyes, but he wanted his daughter to be pleased.

“She is my only daughter,” the chief said to the young hunter. “And she is very dear to my heart. I shall not be like other fathers and trade her for a pile of furs. You will have to win the heart of my daughter, for I want her to be happy.”

So Coyote came to the chiefs lodge every day, bringing with him some small gift that he thought would please the girl. But he never seemed to bring the right thing. She would shyly accept his gift and the run away to the place where the women sat in the sun doing their work with deerskins or to the place where the children were playing games.

Every day Coyote became more eager to win the beautiful girl. He thought and thought about what gifts to take to her. “Perhaps the prettiest flower hidden in the forest,” he said to himself one day, “will be the gift that will make her want to marry me.”

He went to the forest beside Great River and searched for one whole day. Then he took to the chief’s lodge the most beautiful flower he had found. He asked to see the chief.

“I have looked all day for this flower for your daughter,” said Coyote to the chief. “If this does not touch her heart, what will? What gift can I bring that will win her heart?”

The chief was the wisest of all the chiefs of a great tribe. He answered, “Why don’t you ask my daughter? Ask her, today, what gift will make her heart the happiest of all hearts.”

As the two finished talking, they saw the girl come out of the forest. Again Coyote was pleased and excited by her beauty and her youth. He stepped up to her and asked, “Oh, beautiful one, what does your heart want most of all? I will get for you anything that you name. This flower that I found for you in a hidden spot in the woods is my pledge.”

Surprised, or seeming to be surprised, the girl looked at the young hunter and at the rare white flower he was offering her.

“I want a pool,” she answered shyly. “A pool where I may bathe every day hidden from all eyes that might see.”

Then, without accepting the flower that Coyote had searched for so many hours, she ran away. As before, she hurried to play with her young friends.

Coyote turned to her father. “It is well. In seven suns I will come for you and your daughter. I will take you to the pool she asked for. The pool will be for her alone.”

For seven suns Coyote worked to build the pool that would win the heart of the girl he wished to marry. First he cut a great gash in the hills on the south side of Great River. Then he lined that gash with trees and shrubs and ferns to the very top of a high wall that looked toward the river.

Then he went to the bottom of the rock wall and slanted it back a long way, far enough to hollow out a wide pool. He climbed up the wall again and went far back into the hills. There he made a stream come out of the earth, and he sent it down the big gash he had made, to fall over the slanting rock wall. From the edge of that wall the water dropped with spray and mist. And so the water made, at the bottom, a big screen that hid the pool from all eyes.

When he had finished his work, Coyote went to the village to invite the chief and his daughter to see what he had made. When they had admired the new waterfall, he showed them the pool that lay behind it and the spray. He watched the eyes of the girl.

She looked with smiling eyes, first at the pool and the waterfall in front of it, and then at the young hunter who had made them for her. He could see that she was pleased. He could see that at last he had won her heart. She told her father that she was willing to become the wife of the young hunter.

In that long ago time before this time, two old grandmothers sat all day on top of the highest mountains. One sat on the top of the highest mountain north of Great River. The other sat on the highest mountain south of it. When the one on the north side talked, she could be heard eastward as far as the Big Shining Mountains, westward as far as the big water where the sun hides every night, and northward to the top of the world.

The grandmother on the south side of the river also could be heard as far west as the big water and as far south as anyone lived. The two old women saw everything that was done, and every day they told all the people on both sides of the river.

Now they saw the chief’s daughter go every morning to bathe in the pool, and they saw Coyote wait for her outside the screen of waterfall and spray. The old grandmothers heard the two sing to each other and laugh together. The grandmothers laughed at the pair, raised their voices, and told all the people what they saw and heard.

Soon the chief’s daughter knew that all the people were laughing at her–all the people from the big water to the Big Shining Mountains, all the people from the top of the world to as far south as anyone lived.

She was no longer happy. She no longer sang with joy. One day she asked Coyote to allow her to go alone to the pool. The old grandmothers watched her go behind the waterfall. Then they saw her walk from the pool and go down into Great River. Her people never saw her again.

Coyote, in a swift canoe, went down Great River in search of her. He saw her floating and swimming ahead of him, and he paddled as fast as he could. He reached her just before she was carried out into the big water where the sun hides at night.

There the two of them, Coyote and the girl, were turned into little ducks, little summer ducks, floating on the water.

That was a long, long time ago. But even today, when the sun takes its last look at the high cliff south of Great River, two summer ducks swim out to look back at the series of waterfalls that dash down the high mountain. They look longest at the lowest cascade and the spray that hides the tree-fringed pool behind them.

If those who want to understand will be silent and listen, they will hear the little song that the chief’s daughter and Coyote used to sing to each other every morning after she had bathed in the pool. The song begins very soft and low, lifts sharply to a high note, and then fades gently away.

Coyote and Another One (Chippewa)

As told by Charles Phillip White

 

Two Coyotes were crossing a farmers field. Both Coyotes were strangers to each other for they had never met. Just as they were about to introduce themselves they heard the farmer yell, “There’s a Coyote in the field!” The first Coyote turned to the other and told him to run! They both started to run for the trees when they heard the farmer yell, “And there goes another one!”. Finally both Coyotes made it to the cover of the trees and they started to introduce themselves. “I never saw you before, I am Wanderer, I am a Coyote like you.” The other Coyote looked at him oddly and said, “I am Sleek, but I am not a Coyote like you.”

“Yes you are,” said Wanderer.

“Oh no I am not,” replied Sleek.

“Look my friend, you are confused. You have ears like mine, you have a tail like mine, our fur is the same, our snouts are the same, everything is the same, you are just like me and we are both Coyotes,” Wanderer tried to explain. “Listen let’s run across the field again and you will see,” challenged Sleek. So off they ran. First went Wanderer and again the Farmer yelled, “There goes that darn Coyote.” Then Sleek took afoot and the Farmer yelled, “And there goes another one… again!”

When the two Coyotes reached the other side of the field they ducked into the woods. Wanderer turned to Sleek and said, “There! Didn’t you hear the Farmer? He called us both Coyotes.” Sleek look disappointed with his new confused friend and said, “Yes I heard the Farmer. He called you a Coyote, but I am an `Another One’.”

Our problem is, we are listening to the Farmers tell us who we are. Something to talk about.

Coyote and Owl (Apache)
Coyote and Porcupine Contend For a Buffalo (Apache)
Coyote and Quail (Apache)
Coyote and Rabbit Gamble (Yana)

Coyote and the Pitch Baby
Coyote and the Expanding Meat
Coyote and the Two Running Rocks
Coyote and Yellow Jacket
Coyote As Eye-Juggler
Coyote Burns His Children
Coyote Chases the Rocks
Coyote Comes to Life Four Times
Coyote Dances with the Prairie Dogs

Coyote in the Underworld; The Origin of the Monsters;
The First Emergence

Coyote Kills Deer with His Ceremony
Coyote Kills His Wife and Carries Her Body
Coyote Loses His Bow and Arrows to Antelope
Coyote Loses the Power to Obtain Food
Coyote Marries His Own Daughter
Coyote Obtains Fire
Coyote Plays Tricks on Owl; the Vomit Exchange
Coyote Steals Another Man’s Wife
Coyote Visits Buffalo
Coyote Visits the Red Ants

Coyote and the Bird From Heaven (Wintu)
Coyote and the Creation(Apache)
Coyote and The Expanding Meat (Apache)
Coyote and the Hen (Mayan)
Coyote and The Hummingbird (Costanoan)
Coyote and the Mexicans (Apache)
Coyote and the Money Tree (Apache)
Coyote and the Monsters of the Bitterroot Valley (Flathead/Salish)

This story was recorded from a great-great-grandmother whose name means “Painted-Hem-of-the-Skirt.” In the summer of 1955, she was the only person on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana that even an interested interpreter could find who knew the old stories of their people.

The Bitterroot Valley is in western Montana.

After Coyote had killed the monster near the mouth of the Jocko River, he turned south and went up the Bitterroot Valley. Soon he saw two huge monsters, one at each end of a ridge. Coyote killed them, changed them into tall rocks, and said, “You will always be there.”

There the tall rocks still stand.

Then he went on. Someone had told him about another monster, an Elk monster, up on a mountain to the east. Coyote said to his wife, Mole, “Dig a tunnel clear to the place where that monster is. Dig several holes in the tunnel. Then move our camp to the other side.”

Coyote went through the tunnel Mole had made, got out of it, and saw the Elk monster. The monster was surprised to see him.

“How did you get here?” he asked. “Where did you come from?” The monster was scared.

“I came across the prairie,” lied Coyote. “Don’t you see my trail? You must be blind if you didn’t see me.”

The monster became more scared. He thought that Coyote must have greater powers than he himself had.

Coyote’s dog was Pine Squirrel, and the Elk monster’s dog was Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear growled at Pine Squirrel, and Pine Squirrel barked back.

“You’d better stop your dog,” said the monster. “If you don’t, he’ll lose his head.”

The dogs wanted to fight. Grizzly Bear jumped at Coyote’s dog. Pine Squirrel went under him and killed him with the flint he wore on his head. The flint ripped Grizzly Bear. Bones and flesh flew everywhere.

“Look down there,” said Coyote to the Elk monster. “See those people coming along that trail? Let’s go after them.”

He knew that what he saw was Mole moving their camp, but the monster could not see clearly in the tunnel. Elk monster picked up his shield, his spear, and his knife. “I’m ready,” he said.

After they had gone a short distance along the trail, the monster fell into the first hole. Coyote called loudly, as if he were calling to an enemy ahead of them. The monster climbed out of the hole, tried to run, but fell into one hole after another. At last Coyote said to him, “Let me carry your shield. Then you can run faster.”

Coyote put the shield on his back, but the monster still had trouble. “Let me carry your spear,” Coyote said. Soon he got the monster’s knife, also–and all of his equipment. Then Coyote ran round and round, shouting, “This is how we charge the enemy.”

And he jabbed the monster with the monster’s spear. “I have the enemy’s war bonnet!” he yelled. He jabbed the monster four times,each time yelling that he had taken something from the enemy. The fifth time he jabbed the monster, he yelled, “I have stripped the enemy.” Then he said to the Elk monster, “You can never kill anyone again.”

Coyote went on up the Bitterroot Valley. He heard a baby crying,up on a hill. Coyote went up to the baby, not knowing it was a monster. He put his finger in the baby’s mouth, to let it suck. The baby ate the flesh off Coyote’s finger, then his hand, and then his arm. The monster baby killed Coyote. Only his skeleton was left.

After a while, Coyote’s good friend Fox came along. Fox stepped over the dead body, and Coyote came to life. He began to stretch as if he had been asleep. “I’ve slept a long time,” he said to Fox.

You’ve been dead,” Fox told him. “That baby is a monster, and he killed you.”

Coyote looked around, but the baby was gone. He put some flint on his finger and waited for the baby to come back. When he heard it crying, he called out, “Hello, baby! You must be hungry.”

Coyote let it have his flinted finger to suck. The baby cut himself and died.

“That’s the last of you,” said Coyote. “This hill will forever becalmed Sleeping Child.”

And that is what the Indians call it today.

After Coyote had left Sleeping Child, Fox joined him again and they traveled together. Soon Coyote grew tired of carrying his blanket, and so he laid it on a rock. After they had traveled farther, they saw a storm coming. They went back to the rock,Coyote picked up his blanket, and the two friends moved on. When the rain began to fall, he put the blanket over himself and Fox. While lying there, covered by the blanket, they looked out and saw the rock running toward them.

Fox went uphill, but Coyote ran downhill. The rock followed close on Coyote’s trail. Coyote crossed the river, sure that he was safe. Spreading his clothes out on a rock, he thought he would rest while they dried. But the rock followed him across the river. When he saw it coming out of the water, Coyote began to run. He saw three women sitting nearby, with stone hammers in their hands.

“If that rock comes here,” Coyote said to the women, “you break it with your hammers.”

But the rock got away from the women. Coyote ran on to where a creek comes down from the mountains near Darby. There he took some vines–Indians call them “monkey ropes”–and placed them so that the rock would get tangled up in them. He set fire to the monkey ropes. The rock got tangled in the burning ropes and was killed by the heat.

Then Coyote said to the rock, “The Indians will come through hereon their way to the buffalo country. They will play with you. They will find you slick and heavy, and they will lift you up.”

In my childhood, the rock was still there, but it is gone now, no one knows where.

Coyote left the dead rock and went on farther. Soon he saw a mountain sheep. The sheep insulted Coyote and made him angry. Coyote grabbed him and threw him against a pine tree. The body went clear through the tree, but the head stayed on it. The horns stuck out from the trunk of the tree.

Coyote said to the tree, “When people go by, they will talk to you. They will say, ‘I want to have good luck. So I will leave a gift here for you.’ They will leave gifts and you will make them lucky–in hunting or in war or in anything they wish to do.”

The tree became well known as the Medicine Tree. People from several tribes left gifts in it when they passed on their way to the buffalo country that is on the rising-sun side of the mountains.

In my childhood, the skull and face were still there. When I was a young girl, people told me to put some of my hair inside the sheep’s horn, so that I would live a long time. I did. That’s why I’m nearly ninety years old.

As the interpreter and I were leaving Painted-Hem- of-the-Skirt,she bent low and made a sweeping movement around her ankles and the hem of her long skirt. Then she said a few words and laughed heartily. The interpreter explained: “She says she hopes that she will not find a rattlesnake wrapped around her legs because she told some of the old stories in the summertime.”

She had laughed often as she told the tales, but I feel sure that her mother would not have related them in the summertime. “It is good to tell stories in the wintertime,” the Indians of the Northwest used to say. “There are long nights in the wintertime.”


Coyote and the Rock Rabbit

Coyote and the Rolling Rock (Apache)
Coyote and the Salmon (Klamath)
Coyote and the story of death (Maidu)
Coyote and the Stump (Yana)
Coyote and Turtle
Coyote and The Two Running Rocks (Apache)
Coyote and Yellow Jacket (Apache)
Coyote and the Yellow-Jackets (Shasta)
Coyote Apes His Hosts (Apache)

Coyote As Eye-Juggler (Apache)
Coyote becomes Chief of the Salmon (Sanpolis)
Coyote Burns His Children (Apache)
Coyote Challenges Never-Grows-Larger

One time Ketox, or Coyote, bounded across the prairie and saw Never-Grows-Larger, the smallest snake, sunning on a large, flat rock.
“You are tiny,” Coyote said. “I would never want to be as little as you. Look at me. You should be as big as me.”
Never-Grows-Larger looked Coyote up and down, then flicked a long, forked tongue out and in.
“Let me see your teeth,” Coyote said.
Never-Grows-Larger opened wide to reveal tiny teeth.
“Look at my teeth.” Coyote snarled to reveal big, sharp teeth. “With no effort at all I could bite you in two.”
Never-Grows-Larger flicked a long tongue out and in again.
“Let us bite each other and see who is more powerful,” Coyote said.
“Are you sure?” Never-Grows-Larger asked.
“Yes.”
“I accept the challenge.”
Coyote bit hard enough to almost sever Never-Grows-Larger’s head.
Never-Grows-Larger bit Coyote.
“Now I will go just out of sight, then we will call to each other to see how the other fares.” Coyote bounded through the tall grass and lay down out of sight. “Hey!”
“Hey,” Never-Grows-Larger called faintly.
“Hey!”
“Hey,” Never-Grows-Larger said even more weakly.
Pleased with success, Coyote repeatedly called and listened to Never-Grows-Larger’s voice grow soft. “I never doubted I would kill that snake,” Coyote whispered.
After a time, Coyote noticed that the snakebite swelled, and the wound started to hurt.
“Hey.” But the sound was not as loud. Soon Coyote’s entire body hurt and swelled up.
“Hey!” Never-Grows-Larger called loud and clear.
“Hey,” Coyote said softly.
“Hey!” Never-Grows-Larger called again.
Coyote did not respond.
Never-Grows-Larger crawled through the grass to Coyote’s side. The animal lay dead.
Never-Grows-Larger left Coyote there, then went back to sunning on the rock.

from Texas Indian Myths and Legends by Jane Archer

Coyote Chases The Rocks (Apache)
Coyote Comes to Life Four Times (Apache)
Coyote Dances with the Prairie Dogs (Apache)
Coyote Deceives a Woman (Apache)
Coyote Fights a Lump of Pitch
Coyote Gets Hit In The Head With A Brick (Apache)
Coyote Gets Rich Off The White Men (Apache)
Coyote Goes To Missoula (Apache)
Coyote Holds Up the Sky (Apache)
Coyote Insults The RockCoyote in the Underworld;
The Origin of the Monsters;
The First Emergence (Apache)
Coyote Insults the Rock (Apache)

Coyote is Disobeyed by Turkey (Apache)
Coyote is Revenged on Wildcat (Apache)
Coyote is Shot With a Pine Tree (Apache)
Coyote Kills a Giant (Dine/Navajo)

Coyote was walking one day when he met Old Woman. She greeted him and asked where he was headed.

“Just roaming around,” said Coyote.

“You better stop going that way, or you’ll meet a giant who kills everybody.”

“Oh, giants don’t frighten me,” said Coyote (who had never met one). “I always kill them. I’ll fight this one too, and make an end of him.”

“He’s bigger and closer than you think,” said Old Woman.

“I don’t care,” said Coyote, deciding that a giant would be about as big as a bull moose and calculating that he could kill one easily.

So Coyote said good-bye to Old Woman and went ahead, whistling a tune. On his way he saw a large fallen branch that looked like a club. Picking it up, he said to himself, “I’ll hit the giant over the head with this. It’s big enough and heavy enough to kill him.” He walked on and came to a huge cave right in the middle of the path. Whistling merrily, he went in.

Suddenly Coyote met a woman who was crawling along on the ground.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“I’m starving,” she said, “and too weak to walk. What are you doing with that stick?”

“I’m going to kill the giant with it,” said Coyote, and he asked if she knew where he was hiding.

Feeble as she was, the woman laughed. “You’re already in the giant’s belly.”

“How can I be in his belly?” asked Coyote. “I haven’t even met him.”

“You probably thought it was a cave when you walked into his mouth,” the woman said, and sighed. “It’s easy to walk in, but nobody ever walks out. This giant is so big you can’t take him in with your eyes. His belly fills a whole valley.”

Coyote threw his stick away and kept on walking. What else could he do?

Soon he came across some more people lying around half dead. “Are you sick?” he asked.

“No,” they said, “just starving to death. We’re trapped inside the giant.”

“You’re foolish,” said Coyote. “If we’re really inside this giant, then the cave walls must be the inside of his stomach. We can just cut some meat and fat from him.”

“We never thought of that,” they said.

“You’re not as smart as I am,” said Coyote.

Coyote took his hunting knife and started cutting chunks out of the cave walls. As he had guessed, they were indeed the giant’s fat and meat, and he used it to feed the starving people. He even went back and gave some meat to the woman he had met first. Then all the people imprisoned in the giant’s belly started to feel stronger and happier, but not completely happy. “You’ve fed us,” they said, “and thanks. But how are we going to get out of here?”

“Don’t worry,” said Coyote. “I’ll kill the giant by stabbing him in the heart. Where is his heart? It must be around here someplace.”

“Look at the volcano puffing and beating over there,” someone said.

“Maybe it’s the heart.”

“So it is, friend,” said Coyote, and began to cut at this mountain.

Then the giant spoke up. “Is that you, Coyote? I’ve heard of you. Stop this stabbing and cutting and let me alone. You can leave through my mouth; I’ll open it for you.”

“I’ll leave, but not quite yet,” said Coyote, hacking at the heart. He told the others to get ready. “As soon as I have him in his death throes, there will be an earthquake. He’ll open his jaw to take a last breath, and then his mouth will close forever. So be ready to run out fast!”

Coyote cut a deep hole in the giant’s heart, and lava started to flow out. It was the giant’s blood. The giant groaned, and the ground under the people’s feet trembled.

“Quick, now!” shouted Coyote. The giant’s mouth opened and they all ran out. The last one was the wood tick. The giant’s teeth were closing on him, but Coyote managed to pull him through at the last moment.

“Look at me,” cried the wood tick, “I’m all flat!”

“It happened when I pulled you through,” said Coyote. “You’ll always be flat from now on. Be glad you’re alive.”

“I guess I’ll get used to it,” said the wood tick, and he did.

Coyote Kills Deer with His Ceremony (Apache)
Coyote Kills His Own Child Instead of the Turkeys (Apache)
Coyote Kills His Wife and Carries Her Body (Apache)
Coyote Kills the Prairie Dogs (Apache)
Coyote Loses His Bow and Arrows to Antelope (Apache)

Coyote Loses His Eyes (Apache)
Coyote Loses The Power to Obtain Food (Apache)
Coyote Marries His Own Daughter (Apache)
Coyote Marries Under False Pretences (Apache)
Coyote Misses Real Rabbit (Apache)

Coyote Obtains Fire (Apache)
Coyote Proves Himself a Cannibal (Apache)
Coyote Quarrels with Mole (Salish)
Coyote Reads the Letter As He Sits (Apache)

Coyote Rides a Star (Klamath)
Coyote Secures Fire (Apache)
Coyote Secures Fire II (Apache)
Coyote Steals Abert Squirrel’s Fire (Apache)
Coyote Steals a Man’s Wife (Apache)
Coyote Steals Sun’s Tobacco (Apache)
Coyote Steals Wheat (Apache)
Coyote Takes Arrows From Owl (Apache)
Coyote Tries to Make His Children Spotted (Apache)
Coyote Trots Along (Apache)
Coyote Visits Buffalo (Apache)
Coyote vs. Duck (Apache)
Coyote With A Thorn In His Eye (Costanoan)
Coyote’s Adventures (Maidu)

Coyote’s Adventures And
The Prairie Falcon’s Blindness
(Yokuts / Yauelmani)

Coyote’s Adventures in Idaho (Flathead/Salish)
Coyote’s Children (Wintu)
Coyote’s Daughter [Becomes] His Wife (Apache)
Coyote’s Faeses Under His Hat (Apache)
Coyote’s Rabbit Chase (Tewa)

Coyote’s Salmon

Long ago on the Sanpoil River that flows southward into the Columbia River, Old Man and old Woman lived with their tribe, the Sanpoils. They were so stooped that it appeared they were walking on their knees and their elbows. Their very pretty granddaughter lived with them.

One day Coyote came along and saw the old couple with the beautiful girl. Immediately, he decided that he wanted the girl for his wife. But he knew better than to ask for her then. He thought he would wait until evening. So during the day he sat around, becoming better acquainted with the family.

The old couple watched him, noting that his long hair was braided neatly and his forelocks were carefully combed back. They noticed too that he was tall and strong. Old Man and Old Woman talked between themselves about Coyote, wondering if he could be a Chief.

In the late afternoon, Coyote asked Old Man, “What is that thing down in the stream?”

“Why, that is my fish trap,” Old Man replied.

“A fish trap? What is that? What do you do with it?” asked Coyote, pretending he did not know.

“Oh, occasionally I catch a few bullheads and sunfish,” Old Man said.

“Is that what you eat? I never heard of them. Are they big enough for a meal?” asked Coyote.

“They are not much, but what else can we eat?” replied Old Man.

“I think I will go up the hill and look around,” said Coyote. It was then about an hour before sunset.

On top of the hill, Coyote saw some grouse roosting in a tree. He threw some stones at them, killing five. He carried the grouse back to Old Man and said, “Let’s eat these for supper.”

After removing the feathers, Old Man roasted the game over the fire and when they were done, everyone sat down to eat the wonderful meal. To Old Man and his family, it seemed like a feast.

“Is this the kind of food you eat every day?” the Old Man asked Coyote.

“Sometimes I eat berries, roots, and I catch some real big fish, as long as your arm,” Coyote said.

Later, Coyote announced that he would like to stay there if they wanted him, otherwise he would move on.

“What do you mean?” asked Old Man.

“Well, it is like this. I would like to marry your granddaughter,” said Coyote.

Old Man and Old Woman looked at each other but said nothing. Coyote went for a little walk to allow the old couple to talk privately.

While Coyote was gone Old Man said to his wife, “What do you think of this fellow? You saw what he did, bringing good food for our supper. If we let him marry our granddaughter, maybe they will stay here and we will have such good food always. Surely our girl will marry someone soon, perhaps some man not as good as this young fellow.”

“Well, husband, I’ll leave it entirely up to you.”

Soon Coyote returned. He decided to let Old Man open the conversation. Old Man held his pipe in one hand and said, “How I wish I had a smoke. My tobacco ran out some time ago.”

“Have some of mine,” said Coyote, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a large bunch of tobacco and gave it to Old Man, who filled his pipe, feeling very much surprised that Coyote would have real tobacco.

After a while Old Man spoke, “My wife and I have talked over your proposal and she left the decision up to me. I have decided to let you marry our granddaughter and live here. If you go away, we want you to take her with you. How are we to know that you will do this?”

“You need not worry,” said Coyote. “I am tired of travelling. I want to settle down here for the rest of my life, if you wish.”

Old Man was pleased with Coyote and believed what he said. So Coyote took the pretty granddaughter for his wife.

Early that evening Coyote stayed with his wife and later said, “I am going out for a few minutes and when I return we will go to bed.”

“All right,” answered his wife.

Coyote went downstream to where Old Man had his fish trap. He changed it into a basket-type trap, piling rows of rocks to guide fish into the basket. When finished he called out, “Salmon, I want two of you in the basket trap tomorrow morning, one male and one female.” Then he returned to his bride.

Next morning Coyote asked Old Man to go to his fish trap early. “I think I heard a noise in the night that sounded like fish caught in a trap,” he said.

Old Man went downstream to see his fish trap. Sure enough, he saw two big fish in the trap. Old Man was so excited, he stumbled up the trail toward Coyote.

“You were right, there are two great fish in the trap bigger than I have ever seen,” reported Old Man.

“You must be dreaming,” said Coyote.

“Come down with me and see for yourself,” Old Man said.

When the two reached the trap, Coyote exclaimed, “You are so right. These are salmon, chief among all fish. Let us take them over to that flat place, and I will show you what to do with them.”

When they reached the open field, Coyote sent Old Man up the hill to gather sunflower stems and leaves.

“Those are salmon plants,” Coyote explained. “Salmon must always be laid on sunflower stems and leaves.”

Old Man spread the sunflower plants upon the ground. Coyote placed the salmon on them, and proceeded to show Old Man how to prepare the salmon.

“First, put a stick in the salmon’s mouth and bend it back to break off the head. Second, place long sharp poles inside the salmon lengthwise to hold for roasting over your campfire,” said Coyote.

“Now remember this,” he continued. “The first week go down to the trap and take out the salmon every day. But when fixing it, never use a knife to cut it in any way. Always roast the fish over the fire on sticks, the way I have shown you. Never boil salmon the first week. After the salmon is roasted, open it carefully and take out the backbone without breaking it. Also, save the back part of the head for the sacred bundle-never eat that.

“If you do not do these things as I have told you, either a big storm will come up and you will be drowned, or you will be bitten by a rattlesnake and you will die.

“After you have taken out the salmon’s backbone, wrap it and the back of the head carefully in tules, the marsh grasses, to make a sacred bundle, then place it somewhere in a tree, where it will not be bothered. If you do as I tell you, you will always have plenty of salmon in your trap.

“I am telling you these sacred things about the salmon because I am going to die sometime. I want you and your tribe to know of the best way to care for and use your salmon. After this, your men will always place their fish traps up and down the river to catch salmon. The man having the first trap will be Chief of the Salmon, and the others should always do anything he tells them to do.

“After the first week of the salmon season, you can boil your salmon or cook it any way you wish. But remember to always take care of the bones, wrapping them in a sacred bundle–never leaving them where they can be stepped upon or stepped over.”

For the next few days each time Old Man went down to his fish trap in the morning, he found twice as many salmon as on the day before. Coyote showed him how to dry fish to prepare them for winter use. Before long they had a large scaffold covered with drying fish.

People of the Sanpoil tribe saw the fish and noticed how well Old Man and Old Woman were doing. They went to their hogans and told others about the big red fish called salmon, and about the tall young stranger who taught Old Man about caring for the salmon.

Soon thereafter, all the people came to see for themselves. Old Man and Old Woman invited them to feast on their roasted salmon. The old couple explained how their new grandson-in-law had shown them how to trap the salmon and dry them for winter food.

To this day, the Sanpoils say their tribe harvests the salmon in exactly the way that Coyote taught their ancestors long, long ago.

Coyote’s Squirrel Hunt (Klamath)

Coyote, The Mountain-Tossing People,
And The Wind-Man (Maidu)
|


Coyote, Heron, And Lizard (Yana)

Coyote, Pine Marten, And Loon (Yana)
Desert Tortoise and Coyote (Yaqui)
(U Mahau into Wo’i)

One day in the very hot month of August, the season of picking pitayas, a desert tortoise was walking along under the branches of the large pitayas cactus. She was eating the red and juicy pitayas that had fallen to the ground. She was walking along with her mouth all red from the pitaya juice, just content and happy.

As she walked along, she came upon a hungry coyote. The coyote greeted her courteously, hoping to make a meal out of her and asked, “What is it that you have eaten which makes your mouth all red?”

“I just ate a man. And if you bother me, I shall eat you too,” the tortoise replied opening her mouth and showing her small teeth.

The coyote became afraid of the tortoise and after a while he said, “Friend turtle, tell me where I can find something to eat.”

“Come with me. At the big ranch I have some friends. They always feed me and I will share with you.”

They talked as they walked along. The coyote and the desert tortoise had been walking for sometime when the coyote desperate with hunger said, “When are we going to arrive at this ranch? How far away is this ranch?”

“The ranch is not far, lets keep on walking and soon we will get there,” said the tortoise. But this was not the truth. There was no ranch and the tortoise knew that if the coyote was given a chance, he would eat her all up. So, they continued to walk.

Again the coyote asked how far the ranch was and again the tortoise answered that it was not far. She continued to walk at her slow pace and the coyote who was just about to fall down from hunger asked the tortoise if she could walk faster.

She then told the tortoise that if she walked too fast, then smoke would begin to rise from her feet and then she asked him to look to make sure there was no smoke coming from under her shell, otherwise they would never get there.

So, the coyote continued to follow her, with his nose close to her feet and continued walking until he could walk no more. He fainted and fell down and the desert tortoise continued walking to the next patch of delicious pitayas.

This is how the desert tortoise fooled the coyote and this took place many years ago.

Courtesy of the Yaqui Myths and Legends:
Pascua Yaqui Language and Culture

Fire Race (Karuk)

A long time ago, only the three Yellow Jacket sisters had fire. Even though other animals froze, the fire was kept from them. Wise Old Coyote, however, devises a plan to steal the fire, and enlists the other animals to help. Coyote diverts the yellow jackets, seizes a burning stick, and runs away. As the yellow jackets chase him, he hands it off to Eagle, who hands it to Mountain Lion. Several hand-offs later, Frog hides a hot coal in his mouth on a river bottom, and the yellow jackets give up. When Frog spits the coal out, Willow Tree swallows it, and Coyote shows the animals how to extract it: by rubbing two sticks together over dry moss. Now that the animals have fire, each night they gather in a circle while the elders tell stories. An meaningful tale which stresses the importance of the natural world and our need to live cooperatively with it.

How Coyote Brought Fire to the People (Karuk)
How Coyote got his cunning (Karuk)
How Coyote Stole Fire (Karuk)
How Coyote Stole Fire (Shasta)
How Coyote Stole the Sun (Klamath)
How Squire Coyote Brought Fire to the Cahrocs (Karuk)
How the Coyote Got his Cunning (Karuk)
Old Man Coyote makes the world
Panther’s Children And Coyote Yokuts / Yauelmani
Rabbit and the Coyote (Mayan)

This is a story of Uncle Rabbit and the coyote. The rabbit came to a big rock, and there he deceived the coyote. He was leaning on the rock when the coyote came by.

“What are you doing, brother?” the coyote asked the rabbit.

“Come here quickly, brother, the sky is falling down on top of us. Lean against the rock and hold it up while I go for a stick. We’ll prop it up with that,” said the rabbit to the coyote.

“All right,” said the coyote and began holding it up with all his might. Since the coyote was so stupid, he did exactly what the rabbit told him to. The rabbit had said that he was going to get a stick, but he went and left the coyote holding up the rock. When the rabbit didn’t return the coyote shouted:

“Come back, brother! The weight of the rock has made me tired.”

The rabbit still didn’t come back.

“No matter, I’m going to leave even though the sky may fall down on top of us,” said the coyote. But when he ran away he fell into a ravine. The rabbit never came back to the rock and the coyote was lost.

Later the rabbit came to a pond and saw the reflection of the moon in there. As the rabbit was very tricky, he was always deceiving the coyote. The dumb coyote always followed him and didn’t know that the rabbit was deceiving him. The coyote came to the pond where the rabbit was. When he saw the coyote coming he began to drink the water from the pond.

“What are you doing, brother? The coyote asked the rabbit.

“Look, brother, there’s a lot of food down there,” answered the rabbit.

“What kind of food?”

“Look,” the rabbit told the coyote.

The coyote looked in the water and said: “I see it. What is it?”

“There’s a cheese in the water,” the rabbit said to the coyote. “If we drink all the water we can get the cheese. Drink it, you’re big and you can finish all the water.”

“All right, brother,” he said, and began to drink the water.

“I’m going for a walk,” said the rabbit, and left.

The coyote continued to drink the water, but the rabbit was gone. The coyote’s stomach began to hurt him, and he got the runs. He wasn’t able to finish the water, so the coyote abandoned the effort and left.

Rabbit Fools Coyote (Apache)
Race around the World
Rabbit Escapes

Rabbit Fools Coyote
Rabbit Scares Coyote Away

Skunk Outwits Coyote

Coyote was going along one day, feeling very hungry, when he met up with Skunk. “Hello, brother,” Coyote greeted him. “You look hungry and so am I. If I lead the way, will you join me in a trick to get something to eat?”

“I will do whatever you propose,” said Skunk.

“A prairie dog village is just over that hill. You go over there and lie down and play dead. I’ll come along later and say to the prairie dogs, ‘Come, let us have a dance over the body of our dead enemy.’ “

Skunk wondered how they would ever get anything to eat by playing dead and dancing. “Why should I do this?” he asked.

“Go on,” Coyote said. “Puff yourself up and play dead.”

Skunk went on to the prairie dog village and pretended to be dead. After a while Coyote came along and saw several prairie dogs playing outside their holes. They were keeping a distance between themselves and Skunk.

“Oh, look,” cried Coyote, “our enemy lies dead before us. Come, we will have a dance to celebrate. Let everyone come out and then stop up the burrow holes.”

The foolish prairie dogs did as he told them. “Now,” said Coyote, “let us all stand in a big circle and dance with our eyes closed. If anyone opens his eyes to look, he will turn into something bad.”

As soon as the prairie dogs began dancing with their eyes closed, Coyote killed one of them. “Well, now,” he called out, “let’s all open our eyes.” The prairie dogs did so, and were surprised to see one lying dead. “Oh, dear,” said Coyote, “look at this poor fellow. He opened his eyes and died. Now, all of you, close your eyes and dance again. Don’t look, or you too will die.”

They began to dance once more, and one by one Coyote drew them out of the dance circle and killed them. At last, one of the prairie dogs became suspicious and opened his eyes. “Oh, Coyote is killing us!” he cried, and all the survivors ran to unstop their holes and seek safety in the burrows.

Skunk then stood up, laughing at how easily Coyote had worked his trick. He helped gather up some dry firewood and they began roasting the prairie dogs that Coyote had killed.

The cooking meat smelled so good that Coyote decided he wanted to eat the best of it himself. “Let’s run a race,” he said. “The one that wins will have his choice of the most delicious prairie dogs.”

“No,” replied Skunk, “you are too swift. I’m a slow runner and can never beat you.”

“Well, I will tie a rock to my foot,” Coyote said.

“If you will tie on a big rock, I will race you.”

They decided to race around the bottom of the hill. “While I am tying this rock to my foot,” Coyote said, “you go ahead. I’ll give you a start and then catch you.”

Skunk began to run and was soon out of sight around the hill. Coyote tied a rock to his foot and followed, slowly at first, but he soon kicked the rock loose and doubled his speed. Along the way, however, Skunk had found a brush pile, and he dashed in there and hid.

As soon as he saw Coyote go racing past, Skunk turned back to the fire. He raked all the roasted prairie dogs out of the coals, except for two small bony ones that he did not want. Then he cut off the tails and stuck them back in the ashes, and carried the meat away to the brush pile.

Meanwhile Coyote was still loping around the hill, confident that Skunk was running just ahead of him. As he hurried along, he said to himself, “I wonder where that fool Skunk is? I did not know that he could run so fast.” He soon circled back to the cooking fire and saw the prairie dog tails sticking out of the ashes. He seized one and it slipped out. He tried another one. “Oh, but they are well cooked,” he said. He tried another one. Then he suspected that something was wrong.

Taking a stick, Coyote raked through the coals, but he found only the two bony prairie dogs that Skunk had rejected. “Someone must have stolen our meat,” he said, and then ate the two small tasteless ones.

Skunk, who by this time had feasted on the delicious meat, had crept to the top of the hill and was looking down at Coyote. As Coyote began searching all around to see who might have stolen the meat, Skunk threw some prairie dog bones down upon him.

Coyote glanced up and saw him. “You took all the delicious prairie dogs!” he cried. “Give me some of them.”

“No,” Skunk answered. “We ran a race for them. I beat you. I’m going to eat all of them.”

Coyote begged and begged for some of the delicious prairie dogs, but while he was still pleading, Skunk swallowed the last morsel of meat. He was a better trickster than Coyote.

The Meeting (Dog’s Tails)

A long time ago, all the dogs decided to have a meeting. They invited leaders of dogs from all over the world, but not the coyote.

“We don’t want him here.” they said. “He is not of our kind, he is the coyote.”

But Coyote heard of the meeting. It was to be at a great tipi. So on the night of the meeting, Coyote sat outside of the tipi in the trees watching the dogs from everywhere going to the meeting.

Now when dogs go to a meeting, they take off their tails and leave them outside, setting them in a place where they can find them after the meeting.

Once all the dogs were in the tipi, Coyote crept closer, his steps covered by the playing of the drums inside. There Coyote sat, listening to the drums and the dogs talking. After a while coyote could not take it any longer. He had to do something.

First he found the dogs� tails, then he tossed them around until they were all mixed up. Then he ran around the tipi yelling, “Mad bear! Mad bear!”

Dogs and bears did not get along, and dogs were very afraid of the bear. In a panic, the dogs ran from the tipi, tripping over each other. When they got outside, they could not find their tails, so they grabbed the first tail they could find, and ran off into the woods.

And still to this day when dogs meet, they check to see who’s tail they have.

Why Coyote Stopped Imitating His Friends (Caddo)

Coyote and Raven were good friends. One day after Coyote had grown weary of hunting for food and finding none, he decided to go to the top of Blue Mountain to see his friend Raven. “Welcome,” Raven said. “But why do you look so weary and sad, my friend?”

“I have been hunting for food,” replied Coyote, “but I found nothing.”

Upon hearing this, Raven put an arrow to his bow and shot it straight up into the air, and then stood waiting for it to come down. It came down and pierced his upper wing. When Raven drew the arrow out, it had a large piece of buffalo meat fixed to the head. Raven gave the meat to Coyote, who smacked his mouth and ate heartily.

“That was a fine piece of meat,” Coyote said. “I must repay you some time. Will you come and visit me soon?”

“Yes, I will come,” promised Raven.

Coyote did not know that Raven possessed magic powers over the buffalo, and he believed that he could perform the same trick to obtain meat. In expectation of Raven’s visit, he made himself a new bow, and a few days later Raven came down from Blue Mountain to see him.

“Welcome, welcome,” Coyote greeted him. “I have no meat because I did not expect you, but if you will wait a moment I will soon have some for you.”

Coyote took his new bow and shot an arrow straight up into the sky. He then stood waiting for it to come down. Raven watched him but said not a word. The arrow came down and struck Coyote’s thigh. He ran away screaming with pain, leaving his guest behind. Raven waited a while and then went home without any meat, but in very high spirits because Coyote’s attempt to imitate him amused him greatly. For days he chuckled to himself whenever he thought of it.

As for Coyote, he ran for miles until he finally had the sense to stop and pull the arrow out of his thigh. He was so humiliated that he broke the arrow to pieces, and then wandered off and hid in the woods.

After a time he grew hungry, and when he could find nothing to eat he decided to go up on Rich Mountain and visit Black Bear. “Welcome, old friend,” said Black Bear. “I will see if I can get some food to offer you.” As he spoke he leaned against a persimmon tree that was weighted down with ripe persimmons. His body jarred the tree so that the ripe fruit fell to the ground.

Bear smiled and asked his friend to eat. Coyote ate persimmons until he was no longer hungry, and then he filled his pack with them. “Thank you, indeed, my friend,” said Coyote. “I must be going now, but I insist that you promise to visit me soon.”

Next day Coyote wandered all about looking for a persimmon tree. He could not find one with any fruit on it, and so he cut down one without fruit. He carried it home where he set it up. Then he took the persimmons he had brought in his pack and tied them to the tree branches so that they looked as though they had grown there.

Not long after that, Black Bear came by to make his promised visit. “I am glad to see you,” said Coyote. “Wait a moment and I will try to get you something to eat.” Coyote began bumping against the persimmon tree with his head. He butted harder and harder but the persimmons were tied on so well they would not fall off. Finally he shook the tree with his paws, although it embarrassed him to have to do this. He gave the tree a big shake and over it fell, crashing upon his head. He pretended that it did not hurt and went about gathering up the fruit for Bear, but he could hardly see for the pain. The knot on his head kept growing larger and larger.

Bear ate, but he could scarcely swallow for laughing at the way Coyote had tried to imitate him. After a while he told Coyote that it was time for him to leave. He was afraid to stay longer for fear Coyote would see him laugh. After Bear left, Coyote sat down and held his sore head, but he felt happy because he had furnished food for his friend Black Bear.

A few days later while Coyote was out in the forest looking for something to eat, he came upon a grass lodge that he had never seen before. Wondering who might live in the new lodge and if they might have some food to share with him, he went right up to the entrance and called out: “Hello in there. I’m Coyote.”

“And I’m Woodpecker,” a voice replied. “Come in.”

Coyote entered and saw a bird walking around with a bright light on his head. “Say, friend,” cried Coyote, “your head is on fire, and you and your house will burn up if you don’t put it out.”

The Red-Headed Woodpecker smiled and replied in a calm voice: “I’ve always worn this light on my head. It was given to me in the beginning. It will not burn anything.” Woodpecker then gave Coyote something to eat.

After Coyote had eaten all he could, he arose and said that he must go. “Please come over and make me a visit,” he said, “and I shall return your hospitality.”

Some time later Woodpecker visited Coyote’s lodge. “Is anybody home?” he called out at the entrance.

“Just a moment,” replied Coyote. Woodpecker could hear him rustling around inside, and then Coyote said: “Now, come in and be seated.”

Woodpecker entered and was surprised to see a bunch of burning straw on Coyote’s head. “Oh, take that off,” cried Woodpecker. “You will burn your head.”

Coyote smiled and replied in a calm voice: “No, no, that will not burn my head. I always wear it. I was told in the beginning that I would wear a light on my head at nights so that I can do whatever I like while others are in darkness.”

Coyote had no more than finished speaking when the hair on his head caught fire. He began to scream in pain and tried to put it out, but could not. He ran out of his lodge, howling all the way to the river. Woodpecker waited a long time for him to return, but Coyote stayed in the river all day trying to soothe his burned head.

After that, Coyote stopped trying to imitate his friends.

Why Mount Shasta Erupted (Shasta)

Coyote, a universal and mischievous spirit, lived near Mount Shasta in what is now California. Coyote’s village had little fish and no salmon. His neighbouring village of Shasta Indians always had more than they could use.

Shasta Indians had built a dam that served as a trap for fish, especially the wonderful salmon. They ate it raw, baked it over hot coals, and dried large quantities for their winter food supply. Other tribes came to Shasta Village to trade for salmon, which created wealth and respect for the Shasta tribe.

One day Coyote was dreaming of a delicious meal of salmon. His mouth watered at the thought of a nice freshly cooked, juicy salmon.

“I am so terribly hungry,” he said to himself upon waking. “If I visit the Shasteans, maybe I can have a salmon dinner.”

Coyote washed and brushed himself to look neat and clean, then started for Shasta Village with visions of fresh salmon swimming behind his eyes. He found the Shasteans at the dam hauling in big catches of salmon. They welcomed him and said that he could have all the fish he could catch and carry.

Hunger and greed caused Coyote to take more fish than was good for him. Finally, he lifted his big load onto his back and began his homeward journey, after thanking the Shasta Indians for their generosity.

Because his load was extra heavy and he still had a long way to go Coyote soon tired.

“I think I had better rest for a while,” he thought. “A short nap will do me good.”

He stretched himself full length upon the ground, lying on his stomach, with his pack still on his back. While Coyote slept, swarms and swarms of Yellow Jackets dived down and scooped up his salmon. What was left were bare salmon bones.

Coyote waked very hungry. His first thought was how good a bite of salmon would taste at that moment. Still half-asleep, he turned his head and took a large bite. To his great surprise and anger, his mouth was full of fish bones! His salmon meat was gone. Coyote jumped up and down in a rage shouting, “Who has stolen my salmon? Who has stolen my salmon?”

Coyote searched the ground around him but could not locate any visible tracks. He decided to return to Shasta Village and ask his good friends there if he could have more salmon.

“Whatever happened to you?” they asked when they saw his pack of bare salmon bones.

“I was tired and decided to take a nap,” replied Coyote. “While I slept, someone slightly stole all of the good salmon meat that you gave me. I feel very foolish to ask, but may I catch more fish at your dam?”

All of the friendly Shasteans invited him to spend the night and to fish with them in the morning. Again, Coyote caught salmon and made a second pack for his back and started homeward.

Strangely, Coyote tired at about the same place as he had on the day before. Again he stopped to rest, but he decided that he would not sleep today. With his eyes wide open, he saw swarms of hornets approaching. Because he never imagined they were the culprits who stole his salmon, he did nothing.

Quicker than he could blink his eyes, the Yellow Jackets again stripped the salmon meat from the bones and in a flash they disappeared!

Furious with himself, Coyote raged at the Yellow Jackets. Helpless, he ran back to Shasta Village, relating to his friends what he had seen with his own eyes. They listened to his story and they felt sorry for Coyote, losing his second batch of salmon.

“Please take a third pack of fish and go to the same place and rest. We will follow and hide in the bushes beside you and keep the Yellow Jackets from stealing your fish,” responded the Shasta Indians.

Coyote departed carrying this third pack of salmon. The Shasteans followed and hid according to plan. While all were waiting, who should come along but Grandfather Turtle.

“Whoever asked you to come here?” said Coyote, annoyed at Grandfather Turtle’s intrusion.

Turtle said nothing but just sat there by himself.

“Why did you come here to bother us,” taunted Coyote. “We are waiting for the robber Yellow Jackets who stole two packs of salmon. We’ll scare them away this time with all my Shasta friends surrounding this place. Why don’t you go on your way?”

But Turtle was not bothered by Coyote; he continued to sit there and rest himself. Coyote again mocked Grandfather Turtle and became so involved with him that he was completely unaware when the Yellow Jackets returned. In a flash, they stripped the salmon bones of the delicious meat and flew away!

Coyote and the Shasta Indians were stunned for a moment. But in the next instant, they took off in hot pursuit of the Yellow Jackets. They ran and ran as fast as they could, soon exhausting themselves and dropping out of the race. Not Grandfather Turtle, who plodded steadily along, seeming to know exactly how and where to trail them.

Yellow Jackets, too, knew where they were going, as they flew in a straight line for the top of Mount Shasta. There they took the salmon into the centre of the mountain through a hole in the top. Turtle saw where they went, and waited patiently for Coyote and the other stragglers to catch up to him. Finally, they all reached the top, where turtle showed them the hole through which the Yellow Jackets had disappeared.

Coyote directed all the good people to start a big fire on the top of Mount Shasta. They fanned the smoke into the top hole, thinking to smoke out the yellow jackets. But the culprits did not come out, because the smoke found other holes in the side of the mountain.

Frantically, Coyote and the Shasta Indians ran here, there, and everywhere, closing up the smaller smoke holes. They hoped to suffocate the Yellow Jackets within the mountain.

Furiously, they worked at their task while Grandfather Turtle crawled up to the very top of Mount Shasta. Gradually, he lifted himself onto the top hole and sat down, covering it completely with his massive shell, like a Mother Turtle sits on her nest. He succeeded in completely closing the top hole, so that no more smoke escaped.

Coyote and his friends closed all of the smaller holes.

“Surely the Yellow Jackets will soon be dead,” said Coyote as he sat down to rest.

What is that rumbling noise, everyone questioned? Louder and louder the noise rumbled from deep within Mount Shasta. Closer and closer to the top came the rumble. Grandfather Turtle decided it was time for him to move from his hot seat.

Suddenly, a terrific explosion occurred within the mountain, spewing smoke, fire, and gravel everywhere!

Then to Coyote’s delight, he saw his salmon miraculously pop out from the top hole of Mount Shasta–cooked and smoked, ready to eat!

Coyote, the Shasta Indians, and Grandfather Turtle sat down to a well-deserved meal of delicious salmon.

To this day, the Shasta Indian tribe likes to conclude this tale saying, “This is how volcanic eruptions began long, long ago on Mount Shasta.”

Coyote's Home Page

Poems

Coyote Gulch

Coyote runs along the river trees
offer their roots to the rhythm
which is deeper quieter
moving with the sun
my memories are a 4-legged song.

Coyote Morning

Other Coyote Pages

Mourning Dove: Coyote Stories
Coyote: Wildlife Information
Little Wolf
Alabama Coyote Photo

Coyote Morning

Old men and old coyote dogs
boil their dreams in the sun
served steaming within a bowl
filled with shadows
rolling sticks onto the ground
and making wild songs
while they smack their lips
and spit out the dust
blown in by the winds
nameless
and place-less
but hard to ignore.

Coyote Gulch

Coyote runs along the river trees
offer their roots to the rhythm
which is deeper quieter
moving with the sun
my memories are a 4-legged song.

Coyote and the Stars

Coyote is just being coyote when he sees the Creator placing the stars in the sky from a bag in a very orderly manner. Coyote asks if he can help and the Creator lets coyote place stars in the sky reminding him to be sure and put the stars up in an orderly manner. Coyote does it correctly, but, as is his nature, coyote becomes impatient and throws the whole bag of stars into the sky distributing the stars helter skelter. The Creator scolds him for his carelessness and for the mess he made. Coyote leaves with his tail between his legs. Soon, however, Coyote goes back to being a coyote, only after that he howls at night when he sees the mess he made with the stars.

Coyote and the Monsters of the Bitterroot Valley

https://indigenouspeoplenet.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/flatheadsalish/

This story was recorded from a great-great-grandmother whose name means “Painted-Hem-of-the-Skirt.” In the summer of 1955, she was the only person on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana that even an interested interpreter could find who knew the old stories of their people.

The Bitterroot Valley is in western Montana.

After Coyote had killed the monster near the mouth of the Jocko River, he turned south and went up the Bitterroot Valley. Soon he saw two huge monsters, one at each end of a ridge. Coyote killed them, changed them into tall rocks, and said, “You will always be there.”

There the tall rocks still stand.

Then he went on. Someone had told him about another monster, an Elk monster, up on a mountain to the east. Coyote said to his wife, Mole, “Dig a tunnel clear to the place where that monster is. Dig several holes in the tunnel. Then move our camp to the other side.”

Coyote went through the tunnel Mole had made, got out of it, and saw the Elk monster. The monster was surprised to see him.

“How did you get here?” he asked. “Where did you come from?” The monster was scared.

“I came across the prairie,” lied Coyote. “Don’t you see my trail? You must be blind if you didn’t see me.”

The monster became more scared. He thought that Coyote must have greater powers than he himself had.

Coyote’s dog was Pine Squirrel, and the Elk monster’s dog was Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear growled at Pine Squirrel, and Pine Squirrel barked back.

“You’d better stop your dog,” said the monster. “If you don’t, he’ll lose his head.”

The dogs wanted to fight. Grizzly Bear jumped at Coyote’s dog. Pine Squirrel went under him and killed him with the flint he wore on his head. The flint ripped Grizzly Bear. Bones and flesh flew everywhere.

“Look down there,” said Coyote to the Elk monster. “See those people coming along that trail? Let’s go after them.”

He knew that what he saw was Mole moving their camp, but the monster could not see clearly in the tunnel. Elk monster picked up his shield, his spear, and his knife. “I’m ready,” he said.

After they had gone a short distance along the trail, the monster fell into the first hole. Coyote called loudly, as if he were calling to an enemy ahead of them. The monster climbed out of the hole, tried to run, but fell into one hole after another. At last Coyote said to him, “Let me carry your shield. Then you can run faster.”

Coyote put the shield on his back, but the monster still had trouble. “Let me carry your spear,” Coyote said. Soon he got the monster’s knife, also–and all of his equipment. Then Coyote ran round and round, shouting, “This is how we charge the enemy.”

And he jabbed the monster with the monster’s spear. “I have the enemy’s war bonnet!” he yelled. He jabbed the monster four times,each time yelling that he had taken something from the enemy. The fifth time he jabbed the monster, he yelled, “I have stripped the enemy.” Then he said to the Elk monster, “You can never kill anyone again.”

Coyote went on up the Bitterroot Valley. He heard a baby crying,up on a hill. Coyote went up to the baby, not knowing it was a monster. He put his finger in the baby’s mouth, to let it suck. The baby ate the flesh off Coyote’s finger, then his hand, and then his arm. The monster baby killed Coyote. Only his skeleton was left.

After a while, Coyote’s good friend Fox came along. Fox stepped over the dead body, and Coyote came to life. He began to stretch as if he had been asleep. “I’ve slept a long time,” he said to Fox.

You’ve been dead,” Fox told him. “That baby is a monster, and he killed you.”

Coyote looked around, but the baby was gone. He put some flint on his finger and waited for the baby to come back. When he heard it crying, he called out, “Hello, baby! You must be hungry.”

Coyote let it have his flinted finger to suck. The baby cut himself and died.

“That’s the last of you,” said Coyote. “This hill will forever becalmed Sleeping Child.”

And that is what the Indians call it today.

After Coyote had left Sleeping Child, Fox joined him again and they traveled together. Soon Coyote grew tired of carrying his blanket, and so he laid it on a rock. After they had traveled farther, they saw a storm coming. They went back to the rock,Coyote picked up his blanket, and the two friends moved on. When the rain began to fall, he put the blanket over himself and Fox. While lying there, covered by the blanket, they looked out and saw the rock running toward them.

Fox went uphill, but Coyote ran downhill. The rock followed close on Coyote’s trail. Coyote crossed the river, sure that he was safe. Spreading his clothes out on a rock, he thought he would rest while they dried. But the rock followed him across the river. When he saw it coming out of the water, Coyote began to run. He saw three women sitting nearby, with stone hammers in their hands.

“If that rock comes here,” Coyote said to the women, “you break it with your hammers.”

But the rock got away from the women. Coyote ran on to where a creek comes down from the mountains near Darby. There he took some vines–Indians call them “monkey ropes”–and placed them so that the rock would get tangled up in them. He set fire to the monkey ropes. The rock got tangled in the burning ropes and was killed by the heat.

Then Coyote said to the rock, “The Indians will come through hereon their way to the buffalo country. They will play with you. They will find you slick and heavy, and they will lift you up.”

In my childhood, the rock was still there, but it is gone now, no one knows where.

Coyote left the dead rock and went on farther. Soon he saw a mountain sheep. The sheep insulted Coyote and made him angry. Coyote grabbed him and threw him against a pine tree. The body went clear through the tree, but the head stayed on it. The horns stuck out from the trunk of the tree.

Coyote said to the tree, “When people go by, they will talk to you. They will say, ‘I want to have good luck. So I will leave a gift here for you.’ They will leave gifts and you will make them lucky–in hunting or in war or in anything they wish to do.”

The tree became well known as the Medicine Tree. People from several tribes left gifts in it when they passed on their way to the buffalo country that is on the rising-sun side of the mountains.

In my childhood, the skull and face were still there. When I was a young girl, people told me to put some of my hair inside the sheep’s horn, so that I would live a long time. I did. That’s why I’m nearly ninety years old.

As the interpreter and I were leaving Painted-Hem- of-the-Skirt,she bent low and made a sweeping movement around her ankles and the hem of her long skirt. Then she said a few words and laughed heartily. The interpreter explained: “She says she hopes that she will not find a rattlesnake wrapped around her legs because she told some of the old stories in the summertime.”

She had laughed often as she told the tales, but I feel sure that her mother would not have related them in the summertime. “It is good to tell stories in the wintertime,” the Indians of the Northwest used to say. “There are long nights in the wintertime.”

Coyote and the Rolling Rock (Blackfeet/Salish)

One spring day Coyote and Fox were out for a walk, and when they came to a big smooth rock, Coyote threw his blanket over it and they sat down to rest. After a while the Sun became very hot, and Coyote decided he no longer needed the blanket. “Here, brother,” he said to the rock, “I give you my blanket because you are poor and have let me rest on you. Always keep it.”

Then Coyote and Fox went on their way. They had not gone far when a heavy cloud covered the sky. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled and rain began to fall. The only shelter they could find was in a coulee, and Coyote said to Fox, “Run back to that rock, and ask him to lend us the blanket I gave him. We can cover ourselves with it and keep dry.”

So Fox ran back to the rock, and said, “Coyote wants his blanket.”

“No,” replied the rock. “He gave it to me as a present. I shall keep it. Tell him he cannot have it.”

Fox returned to Coyote and told him what the rock had said. “Well,” said Coyote, “that certainly is an ungrateful rock. I only wanted the use of the blanket for a little while until the rain stops.” He grew very angry and went back to the rock and snatched the blanket off. “I need this to keep me dry,” he said. “You don’t need a blanket. You have been out in the rain and snow all your life, and it won’t hurt you to live so always.”

Coyote and Fox kept dry under the blanket until the rain stopped and the sun came out again. Then they left the coulee and resumed their walk toward the river. After a while they heard a loud noise behind them coming from the other side of the hill. “Fox, little brother,” said Coyote, “go back and see what is making that noise.”

Fox went to the top of the hill, and then came hurrying back as fast as he could. “Run! run!” he shouted, “that big rock is coming.” Coyote looked back and saw the rock roll over the top of the hill and start rushing down upon them. Fox jumped into a badger hole, but the rock mashed the tip of his tail, and that is why Fox’s tail is white to this day.

Meanwhile Coyote had raced down the hill and jumped into the river. He swam across to the other side where he was sure that he was safe because he knew that rocks sink in water. But when the rock splashed into the river it began swimming, and Coyote fled toward the nearest woods. As soon as he was deep in the timber, he lay down to rest, but he had scarcely stretched himself out when he heard trees crashing. Knowing that the rock was still pursuing him, Coyote jumped up and ran out on the open prairie.

Some bears were crossing there, and Coyote called upon them for help. “We’ll save you,” the bears shouted, but the rock came rolling upon them and crushed the bears. About this time Coyote saw several bull buffalo. “Oh, my brothers,” he called to them, “help me, help me. Stop that rock.” The buffalo put their heads down and rushed upon the rock, but it broke their skulls and kept rolling. Then a nest of rattlesnakes came to help Coyote by forming themselves into a lariat, but when they tried to catch the rock, the rattlesnakes at the noose end were all cut to pieces.

Coyote kept running along a pathway, but the rock was now very close to him, so close that it began to knock against his heels. Just as he was about to give up, he saw two witches standing on opposite sides of the path. They had stone hatchets in their hands. “We’ll save you,” they called out. He ran between them, with the rock following close behind. Coyote heard the witches strike the rock with their hatchets, and when he turned to look he saw it lying on the ground all shattered into tiny pieces.

Then Coyote noticed that the path had led him into a large camp. When he sat down to catch his breath, he overheard one of the witches say to the other: “He looks nice and fat. We’ll have something good for dinner now. Let’s eat him right away.”

Coyote Pretended he had heard nothing, but he watched the witches through one of his half-closed eyes until they went into their lodge and began rattling their cooking utensils. Then he jumped up and emptied all their water pails.

As soon as they came outside again, he said, “I am very thirsty. I wish you would give me a good drink of water.”

“There is plenty of water here,” one of the witches replied. “You may have a drink from one of these pails.” But when she looked in the pails she found that every one was empty.

“That creek down there has water in it,” Coyote said. “I’ll go and get some water for you.”

He took the pails and started off, but as soon as he was out of sight he ran away as fast as his legs could carry him. Afterwards he heard that when the old witches discovered that he had tricked them, they began blaming each other for letting him escape. They quarrelled and quarrelled, and fought and fought, Until finally they killed each other.

Coyote’s Adventures in Idaho

Near Spokane one day, Coyote and Fox were travelling together on their way north. When they reached a river, Coyote said to Fox, “I believe I’ll get married. I’d like to take one of those Pend d’Oreille women for my wife.”

So they decided to go in search of the Chief of the Pend d’Oreilles. They soon located him with his tribe, and Coyote approached him with a gift of salmon.

“Chief, I would very much like to have one of your tribal women for my wife. Can we talk about which one you would choose for me?”

“Now Coyote, you know we do not approve that our women intermarry with other tribal members. So you cannot have one of our Pend d’Oreille women for your wife.”

Coyote and Fox left the Chief. Coyote became so disappointed with the Chief’s decision, he began to rage to his partner, Fox.

“Soon the Chief will be sorry for his refusal. I’ll make a big waterfall here in his big river. Forevermore, salmon will not be able to get over the falls to feed the Pend d’Oreilles.”

Since Coyote had the power for his wishes to be granted, the great falls immediately formed as he had proclaimed. That is how the Spokane Falls began.

From there, Coyote walked north to Ravalli. Soon he met an Old Indian Woman camped close by. Old Woman said to Coyote, “Where are you going?”

“I am on my way to travel all over the world.”

“Well, you had better go back and not stay here,” Old Woman said to Coyote.

“Why should I turn back and not stay here for a while? I am looking for a wife.”

“Because there is a Giant here who kills everyone passing through this valley,” replied Old Woman.

“But I am strong, I will fight him and kill him instead.”

So Coyote did not heed Old Woman’s warning and started walking on the trail again. He noticed a large tamarack tree nearby on a hillside.

“I’ll put an end to the Giant with a hard blow from this tree. That’s the way I’ll kill him,” Coyote said to himself. So he pulled the tamarack tree from the ground and swung it onto his shoulder and continued his search for the Giant.

Soon Coyote saw a woman who seemed nearly dead. He asked, “What is the matter, are you sick?”

“No, I am not sick,” she replied.

“I am going to kill the Giant with this tamarack tree,” said Coyote.

“You might as well throw the tree away. Don’t you know the Giant already sees you and you are already a tasty bite in the Giant’s belly?” said the woman.

Coyote took her advice and threw the tamarack tree up on a hillside where it is still growing near Arlee, a little station on the Northern Pacific Railroad. All of what was Jocko Valley now fills the Giant’s belly.

As Coyote travelled on from there, he observed many people lying here and there. Some were already dead, others seemed about to die, or were nearly dead.

“Tell me what is the trouble with all of you people,” asked Coyote of an Old Woman with her eyes open.

“We are all starving to death,” she answered.

“How can that be, when I can see plenty to eat here, lots of meat and fat?” said Coyote.

Then Coyote attacked the Giant and cut away large chunks of grease and fat from the sides of the Giant and fed all of the people. Soon all became well again.

“All of you people prepare to run for your lives. I am going to cut out the Giant’s heart. When I start cutting, you must all run to O’Keef’s Canyon or to Ravalli,” called out Coyote.

With his stone knife, Coyote cut out the Giant’s heart. The Giant called out, “Please, Coyote, let me alone. Go away from here. Get Out!”

“No I won’t go away. I’m going to stay right here until I kill you, said Coyote.

Then he cut out the Giant’s heart. As he was dying, the Giant’s jaws began to close tightly. Woodtick was the last one to escape from the Giant’s belly when Giant’s jaws closed. But Coyote caught hold of him and with all his strength pulled Woodtick out of the Giant’s mouth.

“We can’t help it but you will always be flat headed from your experience,” said Coyote as he left and started again on his world trip.

From there the traveller continued on to what is today Missoula, Montana. Coyote walked along between Lolo and Fort Missoula when he thought he heard someone call his name. But he could not see anyone. He trotted forward again, and heard his name called again. He stopped and when he looked into the woods, he saw two women sitting down beside a river.

Coyote swam across the river, and went up the embankment to the women. They were very good-looking women, thought Coyote, maybe he could marry one of them. He sat down between them, but they stood up and danced down to the river.

“Wait for me,” called Coyote. “I’ll go swimming with you.” He took off his jacket beaded with shells, denoting that he was a great Chief.

“We don’t want to wait, we are having a good time dancing,” replied the two women as they danced on into the river. When Coyote joined them, they pushed him down into the water and tried to drown him.

Later, Coyote’s partner, Fox, appeared from around a bend in the river, looking for something to eat. When he looked into the river and saw something lying on the bottom, he said, “This must be my partner, Coyote!”

Fox pulled out the object, and when he was sure it was Coyote, he made a magical jump over him and brought Coyote back to life.

Coyote said, “Oh, I must have had a long sleep.”

“You were not asleep, you were dead,” replied Fox. “Why did you go near those women, you had no right to be near them, they are from the Shell tribe.”

Coyote climbed partway up the hill and set the grass on fire. Later it was discovered that the women could not escape, and died in the fire. Today some shells have a black side, because they had been burned at the same time.

 

One thought on “Coyote Stories

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