Tale of Coyote Goes Fishing

One time Coyote went out hunting along the river and saw some one walking along its banks, carrying something on his back. When he came nearer he saw that it was a man carrying a fish. Coyote came to him, and said: “How do you do, my friend? Where are you going? Where have you been? Where did you get that big snake?” “Well,” said the man, “I have been out fishing nearly all night, and finally I caught this fish. I was so tired that I did not care to catch another.” “What!” said Coyote, “do you call that a fish? How did you get hold of it?” “Well,” said the man, “I will tell you how to get them. When evening comes go down along the edge of the river and break a place in the ice just big enough to put your tail in, and stay there until I come to see you again.” That same evening Coyote went to the place and found the man waiting for him. It was getting dark. The man told Coyote to sit down by the edge of the water, while he was breaking the ice. Coyote did as the man told him. He did not know that this was a man whom he had tricked some time before and that he was trying to get revenge. The man left Coyote sitting by the bank fishing all that cold night. Toward the middle of the night the water began to freeze on Coyote’s tail, and toward morning the ice got thicker and thicker, and when morning came Coyote tried to get up from his seat, for he was very tired, but he could not. There he was, trying in every way to get free, but he could not move. When the man came he said to Coyote: “How are you getting along? Are you catching any fish?” Coyote replied: “I think I have caught two or three of them, but can you help me to get them out on dry land?” “Yes,” said the man, “of course I will, although I want to talk to you before we get the fish out of the water. You remember that a long time ago you were one of my best friends, but finally you tricked me, and now I am getting even with you. You will have to die, for I am going to kill you.” “My friend,” said Coyote, “I think you are mistaken. I do not think I am the man who played the mean trick on you. You know very well that I never betray my friends while I am able to see. If you will let me go this time I will go and bring the man you are looking for, and I will come back to-morrow evening and assure you that I am your friend.” “But,” said the man, “I do not see how you are going to get loose to go, do you? I will look for the other man myself, and I will do to him just as I am going to do to you.” The man went back to his lodge to get his bow and arrows. When he returned to Coyote he took one of the arrows out and showed it to him and said, “You see this?” He began to sing the song that warriors sing just before they kill their enemies. When he had finished the song he shot and killed Coyote.

Caddo, Legends,

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

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