Tale of Coyote Regulates Life After Death

The people had many councils from time to time. The errand man went all round to call the people to these councils. At one council Coyote arose and said: “First, we must change our rule about death, because all are not being treated alike. Now when some die they come back to their people, and then others die and never see their people again. I propose to make another rule, so that we may all be treated alike after death. This is the rule that I wish to propose: When any one dies let him be dead forever, and let no living person ever see him again. Our Great-Father-Above made a place there where every one of us may go after death. Now when any one dies he shall go from the living forever, but we shall still keep up the fire for six days.” All the people were well pleased with Coyote’s rule, and so from that time on, even to the present day, the same rule is kept, and when anybody dies he is gone forever, never to return again. The people are taken to the sky when they die and become the stars that we see at night.

Morning Star, who freed the earth from bad animals, had three brothers, and he was the oldest one and the leader of all the tribe. In the beginning he had been the errand man, and during war expeditions he had to get up early in the morning, hours before dawn, to go around the camps and wake the people, so that the enemy would not find them. That is the reason he gets up so early now. In the evening one of his brothers would go back a long distance to see if the enemy were coming on their trail, and so the man was named Evening Star. The other two brothers were named North Star and South Star, and these four brothers always had something to do. North Star always had to camp in the North and watch for the enemy lest they should approach from that direction; South Star had to camp in the South and watch lest the enemy should approach from that direction. Their father’s name was Great Star, and he was the chief of the people. Now the people think that when any one dies he goes up to the sky, where he turns around and looks back and becomes one of the stars, and so they believe every one when he dies goes up to the sky.

Caddo, Legends,

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

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