Adventures Of Coyote

In the beginning of the world there were many, many people, and the people held councils to decide how things should be. There was one man, named Coyote, who always had something to say on every subject. At one council this question came up: “How and what kind of rain should be in the world?” One of the men said that it should rain in the form of lead balls, which would be very dangerous, and so when the rain came the people would have to stay at home. Then Coyote arose from his seat and said: “If it should rain nothing but lead it would be very dangerous for my people, because they do not stay at home very much, and as for myself, I might be carrying a big deer to my family to eat when the rain begins to fall and I would certainly be killed. I say, let it rain in drops of water. Then we can be caught out in the rain and get very wet, but we will soon be dry again, and the wetting will be good for us.” The people accepted Coyote’s suggestion, and so it is that it rains in the form of water.

When the council was all over and the people went to their homes, Coyote made up his mind to go out and visit some of his friends. He traveled until he came to the mountains. He saw smoke coming up among the mountains, as though some one was making up a big fire, and he thought he would go up and see who was living there. When he came near to the place he saw some one sitting by the fire. It was the great, powerful Bear. Coyote went closer, and Bear asked him if he was the person who was called Coyote, and Bear told him that if he was that he was going to kill him, for he had heard many bad things about him. Coyote told Bear he was not the person, but that he was the son of a great and powerful medicine-man. Bear did not believe him and decided to kill him. When he was about to kill him, Coyote told him to wait until his father saw him, for he might have something to say to him before he died. This happened at sunrise, and when the sun was just peeping over the hilltops Coyote said to Bear: “Now you may kill me or do as you please with me, because my father is watching me.” Then Bear began to back away, and as he did so, Coyote began to go nearer and nearer to Bear. Finally he began to push him with his elbow, at the same time saying: “Now kill me while my father is watching me.” Bear thought that he must be a great man, if he was the son of the Sun, and he wondered how he received his powers from the Sun. He became frightened and gave Coyote many things to eat, and then Coyote told Bear to come and make him a visit some time, whenever he felt like going anywhere. A long while after this, Bear found out that the person who made a visit to him was not the son of the Sun, but that he was the man Coyote, whom he wanted to kill. Bear was more angry at him than ever, and so he thought he would fool Coyote some way by going and visiting him and killing him if he could find his home. Bear did not find his home, because Coyote was always moving from place to place, for he knew that Bear was after him, and that he would kill him if he could catch him.

While Coyote was moving from one place to another he came down to a large lake of clear, cool water, and after he had been there for some time he started off a little way from the lake. While gone he saw some one coming up toward him and, as he was very cowardly, he started to run away. The person was not his enemy, but a friend of his, Mountain-Lion. He called Coyote back, and so he came, and he told his friend that he was very hungry, for he had had nothing to eat for a long while. Mountain-Lion asked him to go along with him, saying that he would find something for him to eat soon. They both went to the lake, and when they came down to the water Mountain-Lion told Coyote that he was going to kill a young horse. In those times there were many herds of wild horses, and at the lake there was a certain place where the wild horses drank. Near the place where the road led to the water there was a large tree, and the horses passed under the tree as they went down to the water. Every day at about noon Mountain-Lion would climb the tree and then pounce down on a young horse and kill him. As Mountain-Lion and Coyote drew near to the tree Mountain-Lion told Coyote to place himself where the wild herd of horses could not see him, and so he did, and Mountain-Lion climbed the tree. Soon Coyote saw dust rise up from the ground and he heard something like thundering, and later he saw many hundreds of horses coming down to the water. As the horses were passing under the tree, Coyote saw Mountain-Lion jump out of the tree and pounce upon a young horse and kill it. Then Mountain-Lion and Coyote both had a fine dinner. That day, after they had eaten, Mountain-Lion told Coyote to continue on his way; but Coyote did not want to leave his friend, and so he asked Mountain-Lion if he could give him power so that he could kill a horse, too, and eat it when he was hungry. Mountain-Lion told him he would. They stayed there until the next day, and at about noon they both went down to the lake again, and went to the tree, and then Mountain-Lion showed Coyote how and what to do when the horses should come. He taught him how to climb the tree, and then he went out to place himself where the horses could not see him.

Soon they began to come from different directions, and as they filed down to the water Coyote picked out a fat young horse, and as they were coming up from the water he jumped on it and killed it. They had another fine dinner, and then Mountain-Lion said to Coyote: “Do not try to kill a three or four year old horse. If you jump on one that is three years old you cannot kill him and you may lose your own life. Try to kill one that is one or two years old and you will succeed every time.” Coyote left his new friend and went on his way. The next day, while he was alone, he began to get very hungry, and so at about noon he went down to the lake to kill a horse. While he was on the tree he said to himself: “I wonder if it would be dangerous for me to kill one of the large horses. I may be stronger than Mountain-Lion, and so I will try to kill the largest horse and I will show Mountain-Lion that I am not so small as I look to him.” The horses began to go down to the water, and Coyote waited and waited for the chance to jump upon the largest horse in the herd. Finally a large horse came, and when he was right under the tree Coyote jumped upon him. It was but a short time until the horse threw Coyote off from his back, and when Coyote was down on the ground the horse kicked him under the jaws and went off. As Coyote was about to die, Mountain-Lion, who had been watching Coyote all the time, came up to see what was the matter with him, and when he came up to him he saw his jaws to one side. Mountain-Lion asked Coyote what he was laughing about, and asked him if he was able to kill another five-year-old horse. Coyote lay there for a long time before he was able to move. Finally he arose and decided to leave the place, never to return to it. As he was going along a small stream he heard some one up in a persimmon tree, and so he thought that he would go over and see who it was. He found Opossum in the persimmon tree eating persimmons. Coyote went under the tree and asked Opossum to throw down some persimmons to him. Opossum refused and laughed at Coyote and began to play with him. Opossum would take one persimmon and eat it, and then he would throw the seeds down to Coyote. Finally Coyote became angry at Opossum and wished he could get him down from the tree. Sometimes Opossum would get on a small limb of the tree, and then drop down as though he was going to fall to the ground, but he would always catch himself by wrapping his tail around the limb. He kept on doing this to torment Coyote for a long time, until he climbed out on a dry limb. He threw himself off the limb again and said to Coyote: “I am falling off, sure. I am coming down,” and just as he let himself off of the limb it broke off and down came Opossum. Coyote was upon him and gave him a good beating, and then he left him to die. Opossum fooled Coyote, for he was not hurt at all, and when Coyote went away Opossum jumped up and climbed the persimmon tree again. After a while Coyote looked back to see if Opossum was dead. He could not see him, and so he went back and found that Opossum was gone. He looked up in the tree, and there he saw him laughing at him again.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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