Fox Stories

https://www.indigenouspeople.net/fox.htm

https://www.indigenouspeople.net/coysongs.htm

Fox Stories

Fox is a common name for many species of alert omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small-to-medium-size canids (slightly smaller than a medium-size domestic dog), with a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).

Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to the Vulpes genus of “true foxes”. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), although various species are found on almost every continent. The presence of fox-like carnivores all over the globe, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their appearance in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world (see also Foxes in culture). The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.

                                                                  Ancient Fox Stories

Chinese Fox Stories
Chinese Fox Myths

Dancing Fox

Hungry Fox and the Boastful Suitor
(Iroquois)

One day Fox was out walking along. He’d been hunting but had no luck. It was a long time since he’d eaten. His stomach was growling so loudly he could hardly hear anything else. Suddenly he realized someone was coming singing a song. Quicker than the flick of a wren’s tail Fox leaped off the path and crouched down on his belly in the bushes. Louder and louder grew the song. Then Fox saw something begin to appear over the crest of the hill. It was a single heron feather. Fox moved his front paws, getting ready to leap out at the bird he thought the feather was attached to. But as the feather lifted higher and higher, he realized it was no bird at all. It was the feather attached to the top of a gustoweh, the head-dress of an Iroquois man whose face now bobbed into sight as he came over the hill on horseback.

If he sees me, Fox thought, I can forget about my hunger forever! It was well known that fox skins were prized by the Iroquois. Fox tried to make himself smaller than a mouse, hoping he wouldn’t be seen.

Closer and closer the man came. He was wearing fine clothes and Fox could hear the words of man’s song very clearly now. It was a boasting song.

“No one is braver than Heron Feather,” sang the young man.

“And I should know that for I am he. No one wears finer clothing. No one is a better fisherman. If you doubt this, look and see.”

He was on his way to the lodge of a young woman he had been watching for some time. He was going to try to impress her and her mother so that the girl would ask him to marry her. His song and his fine clothing were part of the plan.

But Fox was no longer listening to Heron Feather’s song. He was not seeing those fine clothes. All of Fox’s attention was on what he was smelling. Fish. That large bag hanging from the young man’s blanketroll was full of fish! Fox’s mouth watered and his tongue hung out. It had been such a long time since he had eaten fish. His fears left him. The young man on the horse passed him by, but Fox’s thoughts were far ahead.

Yes, Fox said to himself. I think there is a way. As quickly as he could, he ran along through the woods keeping out of sight of the road. Soon he was ahead of the Iroquois man. Just around a bend, Fox laid himself down by the edge of the path. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth so that his tongue hung out in the dirt. Not moving a muscle, he waited. Soon he began to near Heron Feather’s boasting song.

Heron Feather was so intent on his singing, trying to find a few more words to describe just how fine he looked in his new white buckskin breechclout that he almost rode right past Fox. When he saw Fox out of the corner of his eye, he stopped. “Enh,” he said, “what is this?” He climbed down from his horse.

“Kweh, a dead fox?” Picking up a long stick he carefully prodded the side of the animal. It did not move. “Nyoh,” he said, “it is surely dead.” He bent down and looked at it closely. It was skinny, but the pelt was in fine condition. He picked it up by the tail. “Hmm, it has not been dead for long. It only stinks a little bit.” When he said that, Fox’s mouth opened a little and his lips curled back from his teeth, but Heron Feather did not notice.

“Hmm,” Heron Feather said, “maybe I should skin it out now.” When he said that one of Fox’s eyes twitched a little, but Heron Feather did not notice. “Neh,” he went on, “I should not skin him out now. If I do I may dirty my fine new clothes. I will just take him with me.” He walked back to his horse and began to unlace the bag. “Weh-yoh,” he smiled, “when Swaying Reed’s mother sees this fox I caught she will know I am a great hunter. Then she will surely allow her daughter to bring me marriage bread.” He dropped the fox in with his fish, laced the bag shut and climbed back on his horse. Soon he was singing again. This time it was a song about how great a hunter Heron Feather was.

Inside the bag Fox lay still for a few minutes. Then he began to gnaw at the side. When he had made a hole large enough, he began to drop the fish out, one by one. Finally, when all the fish were gone, he made the hole larger and jumped out to freedom and his best meal in many days.

Too busy with his singing, Heron Feather did not even notice. He rode all the way to the village where Swaying Reed lived. He stopped in front of her mother’s lodge and sat there on his horse, singing til many people had gathered around. He sang of his beautiful clothes, of the many fish he caught (he actually had traded his mother’s beaded moccasins for them), of all the animals he hunted and trapped. Swaying Reed and her mother came out of the lodge and watched as he reached back for his bag. Now he would show them what a good provider he was!

When he held up the bag and saw that it was empty with a hole in the bottom he stopped singing. Turning around, he rode silently away. He learned that day that boasting songs do not make a person great. It is one thing to find a fox and another skin it.

Japanese Fox Tales

Kajortoq, the Red Fox
Rabbit and Fox (Iroquois)
Story Of The Red Fox Clan (Chickasaw)
The Fox-Woman (Labrador Eskimo)
The Foxes and the Sun (Yurok)
Spider man, Partridges and the Fox (Sioux )
Where Foxes Dance
Why the Fox has a Huge Mouth

Apache Fox Stories

Foxes in Culture

Vulpes vulpes - Red Fox  Click Image for information: range, behavior, etc.

Fox Photos

Long ago, Snoqualm, the Moon, had a spider make him a rope out of cedar bark and stretch it from the sky to the Earth. One day Fox and Blue Jay found the rope and climbed up to where the rope was fixed to the underside of the sky. Blue Jay pecked a hole in the sky and they climbed through to the sky world. Blue Jay flew to a tree while Fox changed himself into Beaver and swam in a lake. Moon had set a trap in the lake which caught Beaver. Moon skinned him and threw the body in the corner of the smokehouse. That night when Moon was asleep Beaver got up and put his skin back on. He looked around. He took a few of the trees, and the Moon’s daylight making tools, some fire, and the Sun which was hidden in Moon’s house. He changed back into Fox then he found the hole that Blue Jay had made and took the things to Earth. He planted the trees, made daylight, gave the fire to the people, and put the Sun in it’s place. When Moon awoke he was very angry. He found the tracks that led to the hole. He started down but the rope broke and he fell to the Earth in a heap where he became a mountain. One can see the face of Snoqualm on one of the rocky cliffs. Today it is called Mount Si and it is near Northbend, Washington.

A story from the Snoqualmie of Washington, USA

Fox and the Moon

At the foot of some high mountains there was, once upon a time, a small village, and a little way off two roads met, one of them going to the east and the other to the west. The villages were quiet, hard-working folk, who toiled in the fields all day, and in the evening set out for home when the bell began to ring in the little church. In the summer mornings they led out their flocks to pasture, and where happy and contented from sunrise to sunset.

One summer night, when a round full moon shone down upon the white road, a great wolf came trotting round the corner.

“I positively must get a good meal before I go back to my den,” he said to himself; “it is nearly a week since I have tasted anything but scraps, though perhaps no one would think it to look at my figure! Of course there are plenty of rabbits and hares in the mountains; but indeed one needs to be a greyhound to catch the, and I am not so young as I was! If I could only dine off that fox I saw a fortnight ago, curled up into a delicious hairy ball, I should ask nothing better; I would have eaten her then, but unluckily her husband was lying beside her, and one knows that foxes, great and small, run like the wind. Really it seems as if there was not a living creature left for me to prey upon but a wolf, and, as the proverb says: ‘One wolf does not bite another.’ However, let us see what this village can produce. I am as hungry as a schoolmaster.”

Now, while these thoughts were running through the mind of the wolf, the very fox he had been thinking of was galloping along the other road.

“The whole of this day I have listened to those village hens clucking till I could bear it no longer,” murmured she as she bounded along, hardly seeming to touch the ground. “When you are fond of fowls and eggs it is the sweetest of all music. As sure as there is a sun in heaven I will have some of them this night, for I have grown so thin that my very bones rattle, and my poor babies are crying for food.” and as she spoke she reached a little plot of grass, where the two roads joined, and flung herself under a tree to take a little rest, and to settle her plans. At this moment the wolf came up.

At the sight of the fox lying within his grasp his mouth began to water, but his joy was somewhat checked when he noticed how thin she was. The fox’s quick ears heard the sound of his paws, though they were as soft as velvet, and turning her head she said politely:

“Is that you, neighbor? What a strange place to meet in! I hope you are quite well?”

Quite well as regards my health, ” answered the wolf, whose eye glistened greedily, “at least, as well as one can be when one is very hungry. But what is the matter with you? A fortnight ago you were as plump as heart could wish!”

“I have been ill – very ill,” replied the fox, “and what you say is quite true. A worm is fat in comparison with me.”

“He is. Still, you are good enough for me; for ‘to the hungry no bread is hard.’”

“Oh, you are always joking! I’m sure you are not half as hungry as I!”

“That we shall soon see,” cried the wolf, opening his huge mouth and crouching for a spring.

“What are you doing?” exclaimed the fox, stepping backwards.

“What am I doing? What I am going to do is to make my supper of you, in less time than a cock takes to crow.”

“Well, I suppose you must have your joke,” answered the fox lightly, but never removing her eye from the wolf, who replied with a snarl which showed all his teeth:

“I don’t want t joke, but to eat!”

“But surely a person of your talents must perceive that you might eat me to the very last morsel and never know that you swallowed anything at all!”

“In this world the cleverest people are always the hungriest,” replied the wolf.

“Ah! How true that is; but …”

“I can’t stop to listen to your ‘buts’ and ‘yets,’” broken in the wolf rudely; “let us get to the point, and the point is that I want to eat you and not talk to you.”

“Have you no pity for a poor mother?” asked the fox, putting her tail to her eyes, but peeping slyly out of them all the same.

“I am dying of hunger,” answered the wolf, doggedly; “and you know,” he added with a grin, “that charity begins at home.”

“Quite so,” replied the fox; “it would be unreasonable of me to object to your satisfying your appetite at my expense. But if the fox resigns herself to the sacrifice, the mother offers you one last request.”

“Then be quick and don’t waste time, for I can’t wait much longer. What is it you want?”

“You must know,” said the fox, “that in this village there is a rich man who makes in the summer enough cheeses to last him for the whole ear, and keeps them in an old well, now dry, in his courtyard. By the well hang two buckets on a pole that were used, in former days, to draw up water. For many nights I have crept down to the place, and have lowered myself in the bucket, bringing home with me enough cheese to feed the children. All I beg of you is to come with me, and instead of hunting chickens and such things, I will make a good meal off cheese before I die.”

“But the cheeses may be all finished by now?”

“If you were only to see the quantities of them!” laughed the fox. “And even if they were finished, there would always be me to eat.”

“Well, I will come. Lead the way, but I warn you that if you try to escape or play any tricks you are reckoning without your host – that is to say, without my legs, which are as long as yours!”

All was silent in the village, and not a light was to be seen but that of the moon, which shone bright and clear in the sky. The wolf and the fox crept softly along, when suddenly they stopped and looked at each other; a savory smell of frying bacon reached their noses, and reached the noses of the sleeping dogs, who began to bark greedily.

“Is it safe to go on, think you?” asked the wolf in a whisper. And the fox shook her head.

“Not while the dogs are barking,” said she; “someone might come out to see if anything was the matter.” And she signed to the wolf to curl himself up in the shadow beside her.

In about half an hour the dogs grew tired of barking, or perhaps the bacon was eaten up and there was no more smell to excite them. Then the wolf and the fox jumped up, and hastened to the foot of the wall.

“I am lighter than he is,” thought the fox to herself, “and perhaps if I make haste I can get a start, and jump over the wall on the other side before he manages to spring over this one.” And she quickened her pace. But if the wolf could not run he could jump, and with one bound he was beside his companion.

“What were you going to do, comrade?”

“Oh, nothing,” replied the fox, much vexed at the failure of her plan.

“I think if I were to take a bite out of your haunch you would jump better,” said the wolf, giving a snap at her as he spoke. The fox drew back uneasily.

“Be careful, or I shall scream,” she snarled. And the wolf, understanding all that might happen if the fox carried out her threat, gave a signal to his companion to leap on the wall, where he immediately followed her.

Once on the top they crouched down and looked about them. Not a creature was to be seen in the courtyard, and in the furthest corner from the house stood the well, with its two buckets suspended from a pole, just as the fox had described it. The tow thieves dragged themselves noiselessly along the wall till they were opposite the well, and by stretching out her neck as far as it would to the fox was able to make out that there was only very little water in the bottom, but just enough to reflect the moon, big, and round and yellow.

“How lucky!” cried she to the wolf. “There is a huge cheese about the size of a mill wheel. Look! Look! Did you ever see anything so beautiful?”

“Never!” answered the wolf, peering over in his turn, his eyes glistening greedily, for he imagined that the moon’s reflection in the water was really a cheese.

“And now, unbeliever, what have you to say?” And the fox laughed gently.

“That you are a woman – I mean a fox – of your word,” replied the wolf.

“Well, then, go down in that bucket and eat your fill,” said the fox.

“Oh, is that your game?” asked the wolf, with a grin. “No, no! The person who goes down in the bucket will be you! And if you don’t go down your head will go without you!”

“Of course I will go down, with the greatest pleasure,” answered the fox, who had expected the wolf’s reply.

“And be sure you don’t eat all the cheese, or it will be the worse for you,” continued the wolf. But the fox looked up at him with tears I her eyes.

“Farewell, suspicious one!” she said sadly. And climbed into the bucket.

In an instant she had reached the bottom of the well, and found that the water was not deep enough to cover her legs.

“Why it is larger and richer then I thought,” cried she, turning towards the wolf, who was leaning over the wall of the well.

“Then be quick and bring it up,” commanded the wolf.

“How can I, when it weighs more than I do?” asked the fox.

“If it is so heavy bring it in two bits, of course,” said he.

“But I have no knife,” answered the fox. “You will have to come down yourself, and we will carry it up between us.”

“And how am I to come down?” inquired the wolf.

“Oh, you are really very stupid! Get into the other bucket that is nearly over your head.”

the wolf looked up, and saw the bucket hanging there, and with some difficulty he climbed into it. As he weighed at least four times as much as the fox the bucket went down with a jerk, and the other bucket, in which the fox was seated, came to the surface.

As soon as he understood what was happening, the wolf began to speak like an angry wolf, but was a little comforted when he remembered that the cheese still remained to him.

“But where is the cheese?” he asked of the fox, who in her turn was leaning over the parapet watching his proceedings with a smile.

“The cheese?” answered the fox; “shy I am taking it home to my babies, who are too young to get food for themselves.”

“Ah, traitor!” cried the wolf, howling with rage. But the fox was not there to hear this insult, for she had gone off to a neighboring fowl-house, where she had noticed some fat young chickens the day before.

“Perhaps I did treat him rather badly,” she said to herself. “But it seems to be getting cloudy, and if there should be heavy rain the other bucket will fill and sink to the bottom, and his will go up – at least it may!”

Fox Mythology

Ancient Tales in Modern Japan – Fanny Hagin Mayer
Animal Folk Tales Around the World – Kathleen Arnott
Aino Folktales by Basil Hall Chamberlain
Armenian Folktales and Fables by Charles Downing

Black Rainbow: Legends of the Inca &
Myths of Ancient Peru – John Bierhorst

The Book of Beasts – T. H. White
The Catalpa Bow – Carmen Blacker

A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels,
and other Subversive Spirits – Carol Mack and Dinah Mack

Folk Legends of Japan – Richard M. Dorson
Folktales of Germany – Kurt Ranke
Folk Tales from Korea – In-sæob Zæong
The Fox and the Badger in Japanese Folklore – Marinus Willem deVisser
The Fox and the Jewel by Karen Smyers
Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Vol. 1 – Lafcadio Hearn
The Goblin Fox and Badger and Other Witch Animals of Japan – U.A. Casal
Italian Folktales – Italo Calvino
Japanese Folk Tales – Kunio Yanagita
Japanese Mythology – John Ferguson
Japanese Mythology – Juliet Piggott
Japanese Tales – Royall Tyler
Kitsune: Japan’s Fox of Mystery Romance and Humor – Kiyoshi Nozaki
Korean Folktales by James Riordan
Myths and Legends of China – Edward T. C. Werner
Northern Tales by Howard Norman
Oriental Myths and Legends by W.W. Gibbings
Russian Fairy Tales by Aleksandr Afanas’ev
Scandinavian Folktales by Jacqueline Simpson

Selected Tang Dynasty Stories Edited by Shen Jiji
Translated by Yang Xianyi

Strange Tales from Make-Do Studio Written by Pu Songling
Translated by Denis C & Victor H Mair

Swedish Folktales & Legends
by Lone T. Blecher & George Blecher

Tales of the Bark Lodges by Bertrand N. O. Walker
Tales from the Igloo – Father Maurice Metayer
Tales from the Japanese Storytellers – Post Wheeler
Uncle Remus the Complete Tales by Julius Lester
Weird Tales of Old Japan – Eisaburo Kusano

Bangu the Flying Fox – Jillian Taylor
Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit – Joe Chandler Harris
Daughter of a Fox Spirit – Ying Shu

The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano
(A Sandman Graphic Novel)

Dummy Afa: the Fox in a Tiger’s Suit by
The Fairy Tale Book a Deluxe Golden Book by Marie Ponsot
The Fox Maiden – Elsa Marston
Fox that Wanted Nine-Golden Tails – Mary Knight
Fox in One Bite – Elizabeth Scofield
Fox and Rooster and Other Tales – Maggie Pearson
Fox Tales – Mary Jo Wheeler
Fox Tales: 3 Books – James Marshall
The Fox Woman by A. Merritt
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
The Foxes of Chironupp Island – Hiroyuki Takahashi
Foxes of Firstdark – Garry Kilworth
Honhyu, the Fox Fairy
Hunters Moon – Garry Kilworth
The Knowing One – E. Young Smith
Lady into Fox by David Garnett
Little Fox and Hawk – Gail Berry
The Love of a Silver Fox: Folk Tales from Seki City
Meat Pies and Sausages – Dorothy Van Woerkom
Moon Maiden and Other Asian Folktales
One Trick Too Many – Mirra Ginsburg
Reineke the Fox
Shadow of the Fox by Ellen Steiber
Spirit Fox by Mickey Zucker Reichert and Jennifer Wingert
Stories of Old China – Hui-Ch’ing Yen
The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter
Vision of Franocois the Fox – Julia Cunningham
Vulpes the Red Fox – Jean Craighead George
The White Jade Fox by Andre Norton

Apache Fox Stories

https://www.indigenouspeople.net/apachfox.htm


The Fox and the Deer
The Fox and the Kingfisher
The Fox & the Mountain Lion
The Fox and the Porcupine
The Fox and the Rabbit
The Fox and the Wildcat


The Fox and the Deer

As Fox was going along he met a Deer with two spotted fawns beside her. ” What have you done,” said he, “to make your children spotted like that?”

“I made a big fire of cedar wood and placed them before it. The sparks thrown off burned the spots which you see,” answered the Deer.

Fox was pleased with the color of the fawns, so he went home and told his children to gather cedar wood for a large fire. When the fire was burning well, he put the young foxes in a row before the fire, as he supposed the Deer had done.

When he found that they did not change color, he pushed them into the fire and covered them with ashes, thinking he had not applied sufficient heat at first. As the fire went out, he saw their white teeth gleaming where the skin had shriveled away and exposed them. “Ah, you will be very pretty now,” said he. Fox pulled his offspring from the ashes, expecting to find them much changed in color, and so they were, — black, shriveled, and dead.

Fox next thought of revenge upon the Deer, which he found in a grove of cottonwoods. He built a fire around them, but they ran through it and escaped. Fox was so disappointed that he set up a cry of woe, a means of expression which he has retained from that day to this.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Kingfisher

As Fox went on his way he met Kingfisher, Kêt-la’-i-le-ti, whom he accompanied to his home. Kingfisher said that he had no food to offer his visitor, so he would go and catch some fish for Fox.

He broke through six inches of ice on the river and caught two fish, which he cooked and set before his guest.

Fox was pleased with his entertainment, and invited the Kingfisher to return the call. In due time the Kingfisher came to the home of the Fox, who said, ” I have no food to offer you;” then he went down to the river, thinking to secure fish in the same manner as the Kingfisher had done.

Fox leaped from the high bank, but instead of breaking through the ice he broke his head and killed himself. Kingfisher went to him, caught him up by the tail, and swung Fox around to the right four times, thereby restoring him to life. Kingfisher caught some fish, and they ate together.

“I am a medicine-man,” said Kingfisher; “that is why I can do these things. You must never try to catch fish in that way again.”

After the departure of Kingfisher, Fox paid a visit to the home of Prairie-dog, where he was cordially received. Prairie-dog put four sticks, each about a foot in length, in the ashes of the camp-fire; when these were removed, they proved to be four nicely roasted prairie-dogs, which were served for Fox’s dinner.

Fox invited the Prairie-dog to return the visit, which in a short time the latter did. Fox placed four sticks in the fire to roast, but they were consumed by it, and instead of palatable food to set before his guest he had nothing but ashes. Prairie-dog said to Fox, ” You must not attempt to do that. I am a medicine-man; that is why I can transform the wood to flesh.” Prairie-dog then prepared a meal as he done before, and they dined.

Fox went to visit Buffalo, I-gûn-da, who exclaimed, “What shall I do? I have no food to offer you. Buffalo was equal to the emergency, however; he shot an arrow upward, which struck in his own back as it returned. When he pulled this out, a kidney and the fat surrounding it came out also. This he cooked for Fox, and added a choice morsel from his own nose.

As usual, Fox extended an invitation to his host to return the visit. When Buffalo came to call upon Fox, the latter covered his head with weeds in imitation of the head of the Buffalo. Fox thought he could provide food for their dinner as the Buffalo had done, so fired an arrow into the air; but when it came close to him on its return flight, he became frightened and ran away.

Buffalo then furnished meat for their meal as on the previous occasion. “You must not try this,” said he; “I am a medicine-man; that is why I have the power.”

Some time afterward, as Fox was journeying along, he met an Elk, Tsês, lying beside the trail. He was frightened when he saw the antlers of the Elk moving, and jumped to avoid what seemed to be a falling tree.

“Sit down beside me,” said the Elk. “Don’t be afraid.”

“The tree will fall on us,” replied Fox.

“Oh, sit down; it won’t fall. I have no food to offer you, but I will provide some.” The Elk cut steaks from his own quarter, which the Fox ate, and before leaving Fox invited the Elk to return the visit.

When Elk came to see Fox, the latter tried unsuccessfully to cut flesh from his own meager flanks; then he drove sharpened sticks into his nose, and allowed the blood to run out upon the grass. This he tried in vain to transform into meat, and again he was indebted to his guest for a meal.

“I am a medicine-man ; that is why I can do this,” said Elk.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

The Fox and the Mountain Lion

Fox could find nothing to eat for a long time, so that he grew weak and thin. While on a journey in search of food he met the Mountain Lion, who, taking pity upon his unhappy condition, said, “I will hunt for you, and you shall grow fat again.”

The Fox agreed to this, and they went on together to a much frequented spring. Mountain Lion told Fox to keep watch while he slept; if a cloud of dust was to be seen arising from the approach of animals Fox was to waken him.

Fox presently beheld the dust caused by the approach of a drove of horses.

Fox wakened Mountain Lion, who said, “just observe how I catch horses.” As one of the animals went down to the spring to drink, he sprang upon it, and fastened his fangs in its throat, clawing its legs and shoulders until it fell dying at the water’s edge.

Mountain Lion brought the horse up to the rock, and laid it before the Fox. “Stay here, eat, drink, and grow fat,” said he.

Fox thought he had learned how to kill horses, so when the Coyote came along he volunteered to secure one for him. Fox jumped upon the neck of the horse, as Mountain Lion had done, but became entangled in its mane and was killed.

“I am a medicine-man ; that is why I can do this,” said Elk.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Porcupine

As Fox was going along he met a Porcupine, Tson, which he overheard saying, “I shall search for pêc’-ti, a stone knife, with which to cut up this meat.”

“What are you saying?” asked Fox, springing out of the bushes.

“I said that I must hunt for pêc’-ti for arrow-heads,” replied Porcupine.

“That is not what you said.”

“It was,” insisted Porcupine.

” Where is that meat?” asked Fox, and then Porcupine admitted that he had killed a Buffalo.

Porcupine had commanded a Buffalo to carry him across a river. “Don’t shake your head with me, or I shall fall,” said he, as he sat between the animal’s horns.

The Buffalo told him that, if he was afraid there, he had better crawl into his anus. In that safe retreat Porcupine was carried across the river.

He repaid the service by gnawing the vitals of the Buffalo until it fell dead near where the Fox had come upon him. Fox was not disposed to allow Porcupine to retain possession of the Buffalo.

“Come,” said he, ” whoever can jump over the Buffalo can have it. You try first.”

Porcupine jumped, but only landed on the top of the carcass, over which Fox, of course, leaped with ease. “Now the Buffalo is mine. You can sit over there and see me cut it up.”

After cutting up the meat, Fox hastened away to summon all the foxes to a feast. Porcupine carried the meat piece by piece into a treetop, so that the foxes, when they came dancing in joyful anticipation, found nothing.

From a safe position in the tree Porcupine told the foxes that he would throw them down some meat if they would lie down, close their eyes, and cover themselves with their blankets.

They were hungry, so they obeyed the instructions of the Porcupine, who, as soon as their eyes were closed, killed them by throwing down the sharpened ribs of the Buffalo.

One little fox at the end of the line had a ragged old blanket, through which he peeped in time to see and to dodge the rib hurled at him. This fox survived the massacre, and begged Porcupine to give him some meat.

The Porcupine gave him some small pieces at first, and then invited him to come up and eat his fill. The Fox accepted, and, when he could eat no more, asked where he could go to relieve himself.

The Porcupine directed him to the end of a branch, whence he easily shook the Fox, which fell to the ground and was killed, but sprang up alive again at the moment when the first tuft of hair was blown from the putrefying carcass by the wind.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Rabbit

Fox one day met a Rabbit who was sewing a sack. “What do you intend to do with that sack?” asked he. “I am making this coat to protect myself from being killed by the hard hail which we are going to have today,” replied Rabbit.

“My friend, you know how to make them; give me this coat and make another for yourself.”

Rabbit agreed to this, and Fox put on the sack over his head. Rabbit then hung him on a limb and pelted him with stones, while Fox, thinking it was hail striking him, endured the punishment as long as he could, but finally fell nearly dead from the tree, and looked out, to see no signs of hail, but discovered the Rabbit running away.

Fox wished to avenge himself by killing Rabbit, and set off in pursuit of him.

When overtaken Rabbit was chewing soft gum with which to make spectacles. Fox’s curiosity was stronger than his passion for revenge. “What are you making those for?” said he.

“It is going to be very hot, and I am making them to protect my eyes,” answered Rabbit.

“Let me have this pair; you know how to make them and can make yourself another pair.”

“Very well,” said Rabbit, and he put the eye-shields on Fox, who could then see nothing, as the gum was soft and filled his eyes.

Rabbit set fire to the brush all around Fox, who was badly singed in running through it. The gum melted in the fire, and yet remains as the dark rings around his eyes. Fox again started on the trail of Rabbit, with the determination of eating him as soon as he saw him.

He found Rabbit sitting beside the opening of a beehive. “I am going to eat you,” said Fox ; “you have tried to kill me.”

“You must not kill me,” replied Rabbit. “I am teaching these children,” and he closed the opening of the hive, so that Fox could not see what was inside. Fox desired very much to see what was in the hive making such a noise. “If you wish to see, stay here and teach them while I rest. When it is dinner time, strike them with a club,” said Rabbit, who then ran away.

Fox patiently awaited the dinner hour, and then struck the hive with such force that he broke into it. The bees poured out and stung him until he rolled in agony.

“When I see you again, I will kill you before you can say a word!” declared he, as he started after Rabbit again.

Fox tracked the Rabbit to a small hole in the fence around a field of watermelons belonging to a Mexican. The Rabbit had entered to steal, and was angered at sight of the gum figure of a man which the owner of the field had placed beside the path.

“What do you desire from me?” he cried, as he struck at the figure with his forefoot, which stuck fast in the soft gum. He struck at the gum with every foot, and even his head was soon stuck in the gum.

Thus Fox found him. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“They put me in here because I would not eat chicken for them,” said Rabbit.

“I will take your place,” said Fox ; “I know how to eat chicken.”

The Mexican found him in the morning and skinned him, and then let him go, — still on the trail of the Rabbit who had so frequently outwitted him.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Wildcat

As soon as his life was restored, Fox went to the Buffalo head, and cut off the long pendent hair, i-yûn-e-pi-ta-ga, beneath its under jaw.

Fox took this to a prairie-dog village near at hand, and told the inhabitants that it was the hair of a man, one of that race dreaded by the prairie-dogs because of its attacks upon them, which he had killed.

He easily persuaded the prairie-dogs to celebrate his victory with feasting and dancing. With a stone concealed in his hand, he killed all the prairie-dogs as they circled around in the dance.

Fox then placed them in a pit, and built a huge fire over them, leaving them to roast while he slept.

Nîn-ko-jîn, the Wildcat, came along, and stole all the roasted prairie-dogs while Fox slept, save one at the end of the pit, leaving the tails, which were pulled off.

Fox awoke after some time, and flew into a great rage when he found only the tails left; the solitary dog was thrown over his shoulder in his fit of passion. The gnawing of hunger soon induced him to search for the dog he had thrown away.

In the stream close by he thought he saw the roasted body; taking off his clothes, he swam for it, but could not grasp it. Again and again he tried, and finally dove for it until he bumped his nose on the stony bottom.

Tired out with his efforts, he laid down upon the bank to rest, and, as he glanced upward, saw the body of the prairie-dog lying among the branches which projected over the water. Fox recovered the coveted morsel, ate it, and set off on the trail of the Wildcat.

He found Wildcat asleep under a tree, around which he set a fire. With a few quick strokes he shortened the head, body, and tail of Wildcat, and then pulled out the large intestine and roasted it.

Fox then awakened Wildcat, and invited him to eat his (Wildcat’s) flesh, but to be careful to save a small piece, and put it back in its place, for he would need it. Fox then left him.

Wildcat followed Fox, intent upon revenge. He found Fox asleep, but instead of shortening that animal’s members he lengthened them; the ears were only straightened, but the head, body, and tail were elongated as we see them at the present day.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Rabbit and Fox (Iroquois)

One winter Rabbit was going along through the snow when he saw Fox. It was too late to hide, for Fox had caught Rabbit’s scent.

“I am Ongwe Ias, the one who eats you!” barked Fox. “Yon cannot escape me!”

Rabbit began to run for his life. He ran as fast as he could around trees and between rocks, making a great circle in the hope that he would lose Fox. But when he looked back he saw that Fox was gaining on him. “I am Ongwe Ias,” Fox barked again. “You cannot escape.”

Rabbit knew that he had to use his wits. He slipped off his moccasins and said, “Run on ahead of me.” The moccasins began to run, leaving tracks in the snow. Then, using his magic power, Rabbit made himself look like a dead, half-rotten rabbit and lay down by the trail.

When Fox came to the dead rabbit, he did not even stop to sniff at it. “This meat has gone bad,” he said. Then, seeing the tracks that led on through the snow he took up the chase again and finally caught up with Rabbit’s old moccasins.

“Hah,” Fox snarled, “this time he has fooled me. Next time I will eat the meat no matter how rotten it looks.” He began to backtrack. Just as he expected when he came to the place where the dead rabbit had been, it was gone. There were tracks leading away through the bushes, and Fox began to follow them.

He hadn’t gone far when he came upon an old woman sitting by the trail. In front of her was a pot, and she was making a stew.

“Sit down, grandson,” she said. “Have some of this good stew.”

Fox sat down. “Have you seen a rabbit go by?”

“Yes,” said the old woman, handing him a beautifully carved wooden bowl filled with hot stew. “I saw a very skinny rabbit go by. There was no flesh on his bones, and he looked old and tough.”

“I am going to eat that rabbit,” said Fox.

“Indeed?” said the old woman. “You will surely do so, for the rabbit looked tired and frightened. He must have known you were close behind him. Now eat the good stew I have given you.”

Fox began to eat and, as he did so, he looked at the old woman. “Why do you wear those two tall feathers on your head, old woman?” he asked.

“These feathers?” said the old woman. “I wear them to remind me of my son who is a hunter. Look behind you–here he comes now.”

Fox turned to look and, as he did so, the old woman threw off her blankets and leaped high in the air. She went right over Fox’s head and hit him hard with a big stick that had been hidden under the blankets.

When Fox woke up his head was sore. He looked for the stew pot, but all he could see was a hollow stump. He looked for the wooden soup bowl, but all he could find was a folded piece of bark with mud and dirty water in it. All around him were rabbit tracks. “So, he has fooled me again,” Fox said. “It will be the last time.” He jumped up and began to follow the tracks once more.

Before he had gone far he came to a man sitting by the trail. The man held a turtle-shell rattle in his hand and was dressed as a medicine man.

“Have you seen a rabbit go by?” asked Fox.

“Indeed,” said the medicine man, “and he looked sick and weak.”

“I am going to eat that rabbit,” Fox said.

“Ah,” said the medicine man, “that is why he looked so afraid. When a great warrior like you decides to catch someone, surely he cannot escape.”

Fox was very pleased. “Yes,” he said, “I am Ongwe Ias. No rabbit alive can escape me.”

“But, Grandson,” said the medicine man, shaking his turtle-shell rattle, “what has happened to your head? You are hurt.”

“It is nothing,” said the Fox. “A branch fell and struck me.”

“Grandson,” said the medicine man, “you must let me treat that wound, so that it heals quickly. Rabbit cannot go far. Come here and sit down.”

Fox sat down, and the medicine man came close to him. He opened up his pouch and began to sprinkle something into the wound.

Fox looked closely at the medicine man. “Why are you wearing two feathers?” he asked.

“These two feathers,” the medicine man answered, “show that I have great power. I just have to shake them like this, and an eagle will fly down. Look, over there! An eagle is flying down now.”

Fox looked and, as he did so, the medicine man leaped high in the air over Fox’s head and struck him hard with his turtle-shell rattle.

When Fox woke up, he was alone in a small clearing. The wound on his head was full of burrs and thorns, the medicine man was gone, and all around him were rabbit tracks.

“I will not be fooled again!” Fox snarled. He gave a loud and terrible war cry. “I am Ongwe Ias,” he shouted. “I am Fox!”

Ahead of him on the trail, Rabbit heard Fox’s war cry. He was still too tired to run and so he turned himself into an old dead tree.

When Fox came to the tree he stopped. “This tree must be Rabbit,” he said, and he struck at one of the small dead limbs. It broke off and fell to the ground. “No,” said Fox, “I am wrong.

This is indeed a tree.” He ran on again, until he realized the tracks he was following were old ones. He had been going in a circle. “That tree!” he said.

He hurried back to the place where the tree had been. It was gone, but there were a few drops of blood on the ground where the small limb had fallen. Though Fox didn’t know it, the branch he had struck had been the end of Rabbit’s nose, and ever since then rabbits’ noses have been quite short.

Leading away into the bushes were fresh rabbit tracks. “Now I shall catch you!” Fox shouted.

Rabbit was worn out. He had used all his tricks, and still Fox was after him. He came to a dead tree by the side of the trail. He ran around it four times and then, with one last great leap, lumped into the middle of some blackberry bushes close by. Then, holding his breath, he waited.

Fox came to the dead tree and looked at the rabbit tracks all around it. “Hah,” Fox laughed, “you are trying to trick me again.” He bit at the dead tree, and a piece of rotten wood came away in his mouth. “Hah,” Fox said, “you have even made yourself taste like a dead tree. But I am Ongwe Ias, I am Fox. You cannot fool me again.”

Then, coughing and choking, Fox ate the whole tree. From his hiding place in the blackberry bushes, Rabbit watched and tried not to laugh. When Fox had finished his meal he went away, still coughing and choking and not feeling well at all.

After a time, Rabbit came out of his hiding place and went on his way.

STUDIES IN AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURES“Coyote Songs”
by Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina

 This portion of The Dispatch, which now incorporates SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures, offers a transcription, translation, and analysis of a new collection of Yaqui coyote songs.

_______________
INTRODUCTION    The most pernicious myth about American Indians is that they are vanishing. While many Native American cultures have, alas, been obliterated, many have survived. Like all vital organisms, cultures survive by being flexible, capable of change. Such change is illuminated by COYOTE SONGS, for these “coyote” singers are members of a recently reconstituted Yaqui Bow Leaders Society, a society pledged to the protection of the Hiakim, Yaqui homeland. Yet these singers are the descendents of Yaquis forced from their native territory in Mexico who relocated in Arizona nearly a century ago. The songs, therefore, though traditional in form and content, must also be understood as expressive of new conceptions of Yaqui space.
Even the traditionality of the songs is strange, for it combines some Christian elements with Yaqui visions and values. It is this “impurity,” however, that evidences the native culture’s viability through its power of self-transformation. References to Christian saints, for example, may by the contemporary singers be changed into present-day political commentaries. Such complexities of function, context, and implication belie the apparently simple repetitiveness of individual songs, which, of course, accompany dancing that adds a physical dimension of significance to this profoundly performative literary art.
I make these introductory observations because it is important for readers unfamiliar with such material to recognize what Evers and Molina are doing: combining as inseparable literary transcription and ongoing cultural history. For “Coyote Songs” are functional to current Yaqui society as it preserves itself by changing under the

pressure of surrounding American civilization, redefining central Yaqui cultural commitments through new reexpressions of ancient Yaqui art forms.
Although lip service is now customarily paid to the existence of native cultures by American society, appreciation of the aesthetic factor in such cultures is still minimal. Appreciation has been hindered not merely by ignorance, but, more dangerously, by writers and translators who, even when well-intentioned, have preferred to ignore the specificities of particular Indian art forms. White poets and prose writers have increasingly seized on a few superficial characteristics of Indian literary art to develop pseudo “mythic” or “archetypal” imitations that in fact merely update the paternalistic and exploitive concept of “primitivism” launched by Modern Art at the beginning of our century. An antidote to such literary “white shamanism”–so properly offensive to Native Americans–is presented by the difficult simplicities and strange-seeming particularizations of “Coyote Songs,” renderings of a genuine Yaqui reconstitution of an ancient genre.

Karl Kroeber
Part I
HOW THE COYOTES CAME BACK TO OLD PASCUA: Contexts
    April 11, 1987, on the eve of Palm Sunday, with an Easter moon on the rise, the Coyotes came back to Old Pascua. And with them came a traditional genre of poetic expression that has not been performed in that Yaqui Indian community since 1941.
We write to tell a part of the story of that return and to offer transcriptions and translations of the nine songs to which the Coyotes danced the night they came back.
Victor Lucero, Timothy Cruz, Steven Garcia, Felipe Garcia, and Joaquin Garcia were the Coyotes who danced that night. Felipe S. Molina sang for them. Their performance was the culmination of a long period of preparation. Felipe remembers the events that led to that performance this way:
      About 1982 Larry Evers gave me a copy of some Coyote songs that Amos Taub had collected from Yaqui elders, such as Ignacio Alvarez and Refugio Savala, in the Tucson area in the early 1950s. This collection provided me with new songs that I could learn to sing. I went ahead and practiced the songs for my own interest, but as I practiced I was keeping in mind that maybe one day I would sing for some Bow Leader dancers.
It so happens that in my village the young boys, ranging in ages from, let’s say six to about eighteen, are interested in doing various forms of Yaqui dance and song. Some of the boys have learned many deer songs. They all have performed in a village or household pahko. Some have also learned some of the steps and movements of the deer dance. Because I have been working with these boys, I have been noticed in the Yaqui communities around Tucson. That is how Raul Cancio came into the picture.
For many months Raul Cancio tried to get in touch with me to talk about the Bow Leaders. I always forgot to call him back or to leave a message for him. Victor Lucero is one of the boys that I sing with in the village. Victor pushed me along the way to get a Bow Leaders group formed. He was the person that kept telling me that Raul Cancio wanted to talk to me about forming a Bow Leaders group. I didn’t give much thought to the idea then, but it always stayed somewhere in my mind.
So finally in the fall of 1985 I met Raul Cancio for the first time, and we talked awhile about ourselves. He knew something about me, but he was a complete stranger to me. However, I knew his wife because she was a god-mother to my nephew. Anyway, from this conversation developed the notion that we would start a Bow Leaders group and that Raul would provide the necessary headdresses and other regalia if I would sing. We decided to hold the practice sessions in Yoem Pueblo at my house. So through this meeting our friendship was made and a Bow Leaders group was formed at Yoem Pueblo.
I did not intend to be in Old Pascua

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at all during the Holy Week ceremonies in 1987. I had intended to go to Potam in the Rio Yaqui area, so that I could see the Looria there. But I was given a god-child to sponsor for Holy-Saturday in Old Pascua, so I could not go. So with that responsibility I had to stay for Holy Saturday. Since I was going to be there I was asked to sing for the deer dancer during the Palm Sunday pahko and also again to sing for him during the Looria and the Holy Saturday pahko.
Before Lent, Victor Lucero kept asking me if the new Bow Leaders group could participate in the Easter ceremonies. I said I didn’t really know because I thought I might go to Potam. So we never got started at the beginning of Lent. So finally Palm Saturday was approaching so Victor got on my case again and wanted to know if the group could dance at the pahko. I told him that I really couldn’t tell him yes or no because I was going to be singing for the deer dance. He said I could alternate between the Bow Leaders and the Deer. Finally through much contemplation I agreed and told him I would talk to the Fariseo Captain. The Captain was delighted to hear the request. He said heewi, it would be wonderful.
So it seems that the group, especially Victor, was very happy to participate in the ceremonials. The group all went and danced and participated in the pahko. I alternated between the two groups all night long, first singing the Deer Songs inside the rama with the raspers, then going outside with the drum to sing Coyote Songs. Yaqui people were very happy to see and hear the two groups. All the non-Yaquis who came seemed very happy, too, but most of them did not know what we were doing. They thought that the Bow Leaders were part of the deer dance.
    Wo’im. Coyotes, is what most Yaquis call them now. But in the talk of Yaqui elders they are appropriately called Wiko’i Yau’ura, the Bow Leaders. The Bow Leaders have served Yaqui communities for centuries as a military society. They are mentioned in the earliest writing about Yaquis, the memoirs of the Jesuit Andres Perez de Ribas published in 1645. Three and one-half centuries later, the Bow Leaders remain active in many of the towns along the Rio Yaqui on the wide coastal plain south of Guaymas, Sonora: Torim, Vikam, Potam, Rahum, Pitahaya, Loma Vahkom.
As recently as 1927, the Coyotes took up their bows and arrows and their rifles against Mexicans who were attempting yet again to appropriate Yaqui lands. Today
they are most visible during certain pahkom, ceremonial occasions when Yaquis gather to perform religious rituals and to celebrate. On these occasions the Coyotes dance and perform burlesques to special songs, as they work to entertain those drawn to their performances. What they do with their songs and their dances is playful, light-hearted, fun. But their dance and song contribute, too, to their most fundamental role and their most serious duty: the Bow Leaders are the stewards of Hiakim, the Yaqui homeland, and they are bound by sacred vows to protect it.

   The main function of a Bow Leader was to protect the land for the people. Nowadays the society’s main function is a religious duty. The Bow Leaders have many obligations to the church and other ceremonial activities throughout the year. At the same time they act like guardians during a ceremonial to keep drinking and fighting out of the plaza or the household patio where a ceremonial is taking place.
Before the person decides to become a lifetime member he or she goes through many hours of counsel to get a better view of how it is to be a member. Many sad stories are told about how hard it can be during certain ceremonies when there is no food, when the weather is too cold or too hot, or when fatigue makes carrying out the duty very difficult. Stories are told that death is probable in times of war and that the one who is initiated could become food for the wild animals or the vultures.
The modern initiation ritual takes place in a church. The person who wants to be initiated formally tells the officials of the Bow Leaders. After hearing the speech the officials accept the person and answer in a formal speech. During this time the date for the initiation ritual is set so that both parties are satisfied with the date. Then it is up to the joining person to look for a god-father and a god-mother to help. The god-parents are usually members in the Bow Leaders, but not always. They can be Bow Leaders from a different village.
The initiation ceremony is carried out in the church around mid-morning. Starting at the church altar the god-parents are on either side of their god-child, the man on the right and the woman on the left. They walk out together to the elder cross in the plaza. They walk from the altar to the elder cross three times going in a counter clockwise direction. The new member is dressed completely in the Bow Leader regalia, including his bow and a quiver

with several arrows. After the third trip they stop in front of the church altar and the new member kneels down.
The initiation involves being blessed with a Yaqui rosary and then with a small crucifix. Finally the new member will be pushed down to the floor three times. This concludes the church part of the ritual. Back at the Bow Leaders Headquarters a formal reception speech is given and a feast takes place. There is dancing at intervals. Both the Bow Leaders members and those spectators who are formally requested can dance. However, the first three songs are danced by the captain of the Bow Leaders and two soldiers. After that visitors will be invited to dance. This celebration will continue into the early evening.
Our Bow Leaders group in Yoem Pueblo is still only a few years old and none of the members here in Arizona have gone through a formal initiation. I do not know if they will.
    The presence of the Bow Leaders Society in Arizona has always been tenuous. Members of the group probably first came to live in Arizona with other Yaqui refugees who were forced out of their homeland in southern Sonora in the 1890s and early 1900s. During those years around the turn of the century Yaquis suffered brutal oppression from a Mexican government bent on deportation and outright genocide as ways of possessing the rich well-watered farmland of the Yaquis. Thousands of Yaquis were captured and sent to work as slaves in Yucatan. Others Yaquis managed to escape north over the border into southern Arizona. These Yaquis brought many of their cultural traditions with them to this place that some older Yaquis still call “Ringo Bwia,” Gringo Land.
During the 1920s a Bow Leaders group formed at the village we now call Old Pascua in Tucson, and they continued to perform through the 1930s. The last remembered performance was in 1941. Edward H. Spicer suggests that because the Bow Leaders Society was so tied to Hiakam, the Yaqui homeland, it “had no immediate significance for Yaquis who had decided to forsake the tribal territory and make their home indefinitely in new and different land.”
It may be significant then that the recent revival of the Coyote society in southern Arizona follows the acquisition of community lands here. In the 1960s a group of Yaqui acquired title to some 202 acres from the federal government and moved there to establish the community known as New Pascua. That community has now grown to about a thousand acres of land. In 1890

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 Yaquis living in Yoem Pueblo were able to purchase the land upon which their village rests from the private water company that owned it. These small parts of Ringo Bwia are not now and, likely, will never be regarded as Hiakim by Yaquis. But over more than eighty years they have lived in southern Arizona Yaquis have named and imagined the landscape around their communities in ways that echo their homeland. The revival of the Coyote society may be a sign that they are ready to take a role as stewards of the space they have been imagining.

   The first time I heard about the Coyotes was when I was growing up in my grandfathers’ house. My grandparents didn’t talk too much about them but I remember that they said that they should be called the Bow Leaders.
What first interested me about the Bow Leaders was the time in 1971 when they were supposed to appear at New Pascua. People were excited to hear that a Bow Leaders group was coming from the Yaqui country in Sonora to participate in the Christo Rey pahko. The night of the pahko, at that particular time when the Bow Leaders were supposed to dance, the plaza at New Pascua was packed.
But what was disappointing was that the Bow Leaders did not dance. They just sat there. Finally about 1:00 or 2:00 AM they began to dance. A big circle formed around the area where the group danced. What fascinated me was the headdress. I enjoyed watching the way the hawk feathers flew as the Coyotes danced. The dancers were not very enthusiastic and the singing was hard to hear. So I was not impressed by this group. But what happened in the early morning hours as we drove to our home near Marana did impress me. A coyote ran across the road in front of us. Everybody yelled, “Look, Wo’i!”

    Yaquis think of the natural world of the Sonoran Desert as one living community. This community is called huya ania, the wilderness world. One of the things that binds those who live in the huya ania together is a common language, the language of song. Like deer songs, coyote songs are a part of this language of the wilderness world. They may describe or give a volce to any of the inhabitants of the huya ania: coyote, rattlesnake, skunk, badger, fox, dragonfly, crow, vultures, the desert tortoise, to name a few. Others that may be referred to in the songs are sewa yoleme (flower person), yo yoleme (enchanted person), and machiwa yoleme

 (dawn person). Yoeme is the Yaqui word for person. Yoemem, People, is what Yaquis call themselves in their own language. The yoemem who appear in the songs–the flower person, the enchanted person, the dawn person–are persons who have special relationships with the other inhabitants of the wilderness world. Coyote songs may also describe the dancers and the objects with which they dance: their headdresses, their bows and arrows. There are songs, too, that are mostly about Christian figures such as Saint Francis, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint John and so on. Felipe considers these songs about the saints to be newer songs. “Newer” in his understanding means they may date from the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, sometime after the Jesuits arrived on the Rio Yaqui in 1617.
Like deer songs, the songs of the Bow Leaders have two parts, u vat weeme, the first part, which is repeated three or four times or more, and u tonua, the concluding part, which is sung once to complete the song. We give only one repetition of the first part for the songs that we transcribe and translate here.
The dancers’ movements are keyed to these two parts of the song: the first part is sung over and over as the dancers dance away from the singer, the concluding part as they dance back to the place in front of him where they began. As he moves from the first part to the concluding part of the song, the singer shifts to a different drum rhythm. This change in rhythm serves as a signal to the dancers that they should begin to dance back toward the singer. Because of this, it is said that during the concluding part “the drum calls them back,” u kuvahe ameu chai.
The singer may choose to sing any of the coyote songs that he knows. In that sense, there is no fixed sequence of songs. However, a song called Sontao Ya’uchim, Soldier Leaders, is usually the first song sung, and, like deer songs, the other songs follow a progression through evening songs, midnight songs and morning songs. The subjects of the songs and the manner in which they are danced gets increasingly playful as the night progresses. The songs that we translate here are given in the order in with Felipe sang them at Old Pascua.
The singer accompanies himself with a drum. There is a sounding hole in the rim of the drum, and traditionally the singer sings into that hole. It can be difficult, then, to hear exactly what he is saying. This is a performance custom that singers take advantage of or not depending on the occasion.
Punning and other kinds of word play
  may be important features of the performance and of comments on the performance by members of the audience. This is called nokita kwaktala, word turned around or reversed. By singing into the sounding hole of the drum, or not, the singer is able to mask, or reveal, such word play.
Felipe notes that when he sings, in order to amuse himself and the few in the audience who listen closely to him, a singer might substitute names in some songs. In the song about Saint Francis and Saint Peter which we translate below, for example, a singer might substitute such names from the international news as Reagan and Gorbachev in the place of the names of the feuding saints. Or, too, the names of tribal politicians if they have been sparring publicly. When Felipe sang the song about Saint Peter sitting at the door of heaven, translated below, an audience member punned a version of the words that turned Saint Peter into a fly sitting before a woman’s vagina, her “door of heaven.”
Part II
WHAT THEY SAID: Songs
Sontao Ya’uchim

eme sontao ya’uchim
vanseka
tu’ulisi
chomoka
hisaka

yewi yewima
katema
yewi yewima
katema

katema
katema
katema
katema….

vanseka
tu’ulisi
tavelo masata
sialapti
chomoka
hisaka

yewi yewima
katema
yewi yewima
katema

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 katema
katema
katema
katema
katema….
Soldier Leaders

You, soldier leaders,
go ahead,
beautifully,
with the mask,
with the headdress,

Out, out,
then, walk,
out, out,
then, walk,

Walk,
walk,
walk,
walk

Go ahead,
beautifully,
with a parrot wing,
covered green,
with the mask,
with the headdress,

Out, out
then, walk,
out, out,
then, walk,

Walk,
walk,
walk,
walk,
walk….

This song describes the dancers the first time they are coming out at a ceremony.

The first time the bow dancers come out they bless the ground in the four directions: first to the east, then the north, the south, and finally the west. This is called kusaroapo bwiata teochiawame, blessing the earth in the way of the cross. The bow dancers do this because they have a special obligation to protect Hiakim, the sacred lands of the Yaquis.

 * * *Yoyo Vaka Hiuwa

yoyo vaka hiuwa
yoyo vaka hiuwa
hakunsa vo’oka
masa moye
masa moye

yoyo vaka hiuwa
yoyo vaka hiuwa
hakunsa vo’oka
masa moye
    masa moye

masa moye
moye
    moye
moye
moye….

ayamansu seyewailo saniloapo huyapo
hikatsu vo’oka
masa moye
masa moye

yoyo vaka hiuwa
yoyo vaka hiuwa

hakunsa vo’oka
masa moye
masa masa moye

masa moye
moye
moye
moye
moye….

Enchanted Bamboo Arrow

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are you lying,
with wing decaying,
with wing decaying?

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are you lying,
with wing decaying,
with wing decaying?

 Wing decaying,
decaying,
decaying,
decaying,
decaying….
Over there, in the flower-covered mesquite
grove,
on a tree top, you are lying,
with wing decaying,
with wing decaying,

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are you lying,
with wing decaying,
with wing decaying?

Enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,
enchanted, enchanted bamboo arrow,

Where are are you lying,
with wing decaying,
wing, wing decaying?

Wing decaying,
decaying,
decaying,
decaying ,
decaying….

Masa, wing, refers to the feathers used as fletching; vaka, bamboo, to a local bamboo called carrizo in Spanish. Carrizo is used for a very wide variety of functions in the Rio Yaqui country: the walls of traditional houses are woven from carrizo, carrizo canes are split and woven to create baskets and floor mats, ceremonial flutes are made from carrizo.

* * *Yoyo Vaikumarewi

yoyo vaikumarewi
yo va’ata vepasu
cha’aka
masata yowa

yoyo vaikumarewi
yo va’ata vepasu
cha’aka
haivusu masata yowa

masata yowa
yowa
yowa
yowa….

{38}

 ayamansu seyewailo
yo va’ata
maneka vepa
cha’aka
haivusu masata yowa
yoyo vaikumarewi
yo va’ata vepasu
cha’aka
haivusu masata yowa

masata yowa
yowa
yowa
yowa
yowa….

Enchanted, Enchanted Dragonfly

Enchanted, enchanted dragonfly,
above the enchanted water,
is hovering,
wing shaking.

Enchanted, enchanted dragonfly,
above the enchanted water,
is hovering,
wing already shaking.

Wing shaking,
shaking,
shaking,
shaking.. ..

Over there, above the flower-covered
enchanted water,
where it sits,
it is hovering,
wing already shaking

Enchanted, enchanted dragonfly,
above the enchanted water,
is hovering,
wing already shaking

Wing shaking,
shaking,
shaking,
shaking,
shaking….

* * *
Kooni Mahai

kooni
hitasa mahaika
saiyula vo’oka
saiyula vo’oka

kooni kooni
hitasa mahaika
saiyula vo’oka
saiyula vo’oka
vo’oka
vo’oka
vo’oka
vo’oka….

katikun
vaka hiuwata mahaika
wamsu
saiyula vo’oka

saiyula vo’oka

kooni kooni
hitasa mahaika
saiyula vo’oka
saiyula vo’oka

vo’oka
vo’oka
vo’oka
vo’oka….

Crow is Afraid

Crow,
what are you afraid of,
huddled, lying,
huddled, lying?

Crow, crow,
what are you afraid of,
huddled, lying,
huddled, lying?

Lying,
lying,
lying,
lying….

Don’t you remember,
you are afraid of
the bamboo arrow over there,
huddled, lying,

Huddled, lying,

Crow, crow,
what are you afraid of,
huddled, lying,
huddled, lying,

Lying
lying,
lying,
lying….

 * * *San Juan San Pasihkota Wiko’i Kottak

San Juan
San Pasihkota wiko’i
su kottak

San Juan
San Pasihkota wiko’i
su kottak

kottak
kottak
kottak
kottak….

machiauvicha
su kitteka
haitowikti a
wikeka kottak

machiauvicha
su kitteka
haitowikti a
wikeka kottak

kottak
kottak
kottak
kottak….

Saint John Broke the Bow of St. Francis

Saint John,
the bow of Saint Francis
did break.

Saint John,
the bow of Saint Francis
did break.

Break,
break,
break,
break….


Toward the dawn
he did stand,
snapped,
pulled,
broke it.

Toward the dawn
he did stand,
snapped,
pulled,
broke it.

{39}

 Break,
break,
break,
break….
 

In the early 1940s, Lucas Chavez, a singer from Old Pascua, told folklorist Ruth Warner Giddings:

Coyote dancers…attend the annual celebrations to San Francis at Magdelena, Sonora…they worship the Saint by dancing to a song which praises Saint Francis as a great Yaqui soldier who was able to kill a very powerful bird called kupahe. The feathers of this bird are worn in the coyote dancers’ headdress.

About the same time Refugio Savala told Muriel Thayer Painter:

Another old song refers to San Francisco Xavier being in the army as a soldier. San Pedro is supposed to have borrowed a bow and arrow from San Francisco Xavier and to have pulled on the bow until it broke.


* * *
San Peo Tu’uwata Noka

San Peo
teeka pwetapo kateka
tu’uwata noka

San Peo
teeka pwetapo kateka
tu’uwata noka

noka
noka
noka
noka….

ayamansu
seyewailo santo
teweka looria pwetapo katek
tu’uwata noka

San Peo
teeka pwetapo kateka
tu’uwata noka

noka
noka
noka
noka….

Saint Peter Talks About Goodness

Saint Peter,
sitting at heaven’s door,
goodness talks.

Saint Peter,
sitting at heaven’s door,
goodness talks.

Talks,
talks,
talks,
talks….

Over there,
sitting at the flower-covered,
holy heaven’s door,
goodness talks.

Saint Peter,
sitting at heaven’s door,
goodness talks.

Talks,
talks,
talks,
talks….

Refugio Savala, again to Muriel Thayer Painter in the 1940s:

[Saint Peter] is supposed to be the captain of the army, and the advisor of the army. He is in a coyote song for dancing, and, in a way, it says that San Pedro sits at the gate of headquarters and advises the soldiers.

* * *
Hepela

eme sontao ya’uchim
tulisi hepela
kateka
nausu yewe
nausu yewe

eme sontao ya’uchim
tulisi hepela
kateka
nausu yewe
nausu yewe

 yewe
yewe
yewe
yewe….
Imsu sewa votsu
hepela kateka
nausu yewe

yewe
yewe
yewe
yewe….

Side By Side

You, soldier leaders,
beautifully, side by side,
are walking,
together playing,
together playing.

You, soldier leaders
beautifully, side by side
are walking,
together playing,
together playing.

Playing,
playing,
playing,
playing….

Here, on the flower road,
side by side,
you are walking,
together playing.

You, soldier leaders,
beautifully, side by side,
are walking,
together playing,
together playing.

Playing,
playing,
playing,
playing….

The Bow Leaders dance three at a time. Their usual formation is not natchaka kaate, one after the other walking, nor

{40}

mochala, bunched up as in a crowd, but rather, as this song describes them, hepela, side by side.

Side by side, in rhythm and perfectly in step is the definitive posture of their dance. But like the deer dancer and the pahkolam they may perform yeuwame, plays, in which they act out certain songs. In one, often performed near the end of the pahko, the people who are giving the pahko put out a plate of barbecued meat on the ground between the singer and the dancers. The singer sings about coyotes as the dancers dance out in their usual way, then turn around and dance in backwards, dropping to all fours only at the last instant and fighting like coyotes over the plate of meat. Then they resume dancing in their usual position, hepela, side by side, but now one coyote has meat in his mouth.

*     *     *
Yoyo A’akame

yoyo a’akame
sevipo vo’voka

siirisiiriti hia
siirisiiriti hia
siirisiiriti hia

hia
hia
hia
hia….

katikun
taewalita sumeiyaka
haivusu sevipo vo’oka

siirisiiriti hia
siirisiiriti hia
siirisiiriti hia

hia
hia
hia
hia….

Enchanted, Enchanted Sidewinder

Enchanted, enchanted sidewinder,
in the cactus is lying,

siirisiiri, sounding,
siirisiiri, sounding
siirisiiri, sounding

 sounding
sounding
sounding
sounding ….
Remember,
he is frightened of the day,
already, in the cactus lying

siirisiiri, sounding,
siirisiiri, sounding,
siirisiiri, sounding

sounding
sounding
sounding
sounding ….

The word for both horns and antlers is aawam. The sidewinder rattlesnake is called a’akame because of its “horns,” the prominent triangular projections above its eyes.

This is a play song. When Felipe sings it, the dancers dance all the way out during the repetitions of the first stanza as usual, but when the concluding stanza begins, “when the drum calls them back,” they get down on the ground and slither like snakes.

*     *     *Hupa

hupa
hu’upa kutapo
kateka

to’e to’eti hia
to’e to’eti hia
to’e to’eti hia

hia
hia
hia
hia….

katikun
yo hu’upapo
kateka
to’e to’eti hia
to’e to’eti hia

hupa
hu’upa kutapo
kateka

to’e to’eti hia
to’e to’eti hia
to’e to’eti hia

 hia
hia
hia
hia….
Skunk

Skunk
on the mesquite wood
is sitting,

to’e to’e, sounding,
to’e to’e, sounding,
to’e to’e, sounding,

sounding,
sounding,
sounding,
sounding ….

Remember,
on the enchanted mesquite,
he is sitting, sounding,

Skunk
on the mesquite wood
is sitting,

to’e to’e, sounding,
to’e to’e, sounding,
to’e to’e, sounding,

sounding,
sounding,
sounding,
sounding ….

Some older Yaquis use a tongue twister that plays with sounds like this song. The tongue twister goes like this:

        hupa hu’upapo
vetuku kateka
huvam huhak

        skunk in mesquite
under sitting
stinky farted


*     *     *

{41}

 BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTELarry Evers and Felipe S. Molina, Yaqui Deer Songs/Maso Bwikam: A Native American Poetry (Tucson: Sun Tracks and the University of Arizona Press, 1987) gives an account of how we understand our collaboration and the work of translating Yaqui verbal arts for non-Yaqui audiences. In that book, we give a full review of earlier attempts to record and translate Yaqui verbal arts, as well as a summary of approaches to the translation, interpretation and appreciation of the verbal arts throughout native America.

Edward H. Spicer’s The Yaquis: A Cultural History (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1980) provides a very

comprehensive discussion of Yaqui history and culture. See especially pages 164-176 for his discussion of the Coyote Society as protectors of Yaqui lands. Muriel Thayer Painter, With Good Heart: Yaqui Beliefs and Ceremonies in Pascua Village (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986), is an encyclopedic work made from the direct testimony of dozens of anonymous Yaqui consultants. We have quoted Refugio Savala, a.k.a. informant “55,” from this work. See Felipe S. Molina and Larry Evers, “Muriel Thayer Painter’s With Good Heart: Two Views,” Journal of the Southwest, 29, No. 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 96-106.

Ruth Warner Giddings gathered the only substantive collection of Yaqui narratives as an M.A. thesis under Professor Edward

 Spicer’s direction in 1945. We quote from that work, “Folk Literature of the Yaqui Indians,” rather than the heavily edited version of it that was published as Yaqui Myths and Legends (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1959). Leticia Varela, an ethnomusicologist at the University of Hermosillo, includes commentary on the Coyote Society in her study La Musica en La Vida de Los Yaquis (Hermosillo, Sonora: Secretaria de Fomento Educativo y Cultura, 1986). Of particular interest is her transcription of a formal speech made for initiates to the Bow Leaders Society. See pages 50-55. Amos Taub, “Traditional Poetry of the Yaqui Indians,” an M.A. thesis (University of Arizona, 1950), was prepared under the direction of Edward Spicer and Frances Gillmor.

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