Tale of Coyote, The Geese, And The Woodpeckers

Coyote was returning home after an unsuccessful hunt. He was going along sad and discouraged, when he heard some one laughing and playing. He listened for a while, then decided to go and enter into the fun, so that he might be cheered up. He ran over a little hill, and there on the other side was a big lake, and on the surface several white Geese were playing. He sat down behind some brush to watch them. They were trying to see which was the strongest. One would get on the back of another and fly, trying to see which could fly the farthest. Coyote decided not to enter into their play, but to try to catch them and take them home to his family. The Geese had seen Coyote coming, for they have power to see a long distance, but they pretended that they had not seen him and did not know that he was hiding behind the brush.

Coyote watched them for a long time, trying to think of some plan whereby he could catch all of them. Finally he began to grin to himself, for he had thought of a plan that he thought would work splendidly. He limped out from the bushes, pretending that he had been hurt and was almost dead. The Geese, hearing him crying, turned and saw him come limping toward them, and they all began to swim out into the water. When they were out far enough for safety one turned and asked Coyote what was the matter with him. He answered: “I am going to be killed if I do not get across the water. I must get across, not so much on my own account as others, for if I am killed all the rivers and lakes will dry up and there will be no water for any one. I should hate to die and cause all of this to happen.”

The Geese thought for a while, and then decided to take Coyote and throw him into a deep hole; for the Geese were very smart people in those days and they knew that Coyote was lying to them. One old Goose, who was very strong, went to the bank and told Coyote to get on his back if he wanted to go across the water. Coyote said that he was too heavy for one to take him across; that he would not trust himself to one. The Goose told him to get on if he wanted to go across the water; that they did not have much time to fool away with him. There was nothing else to do, so Coyote got on the old Goose’s back. The Goose flew up in the air so quickly that Coyote did not know what had happened until he was away up in the air. All the other Geese flew up, and they all took turns in carrying him. They flew over a timbered country back from the lake, and when they were directly over a large hollow trunk of a tree they dropped Coyote. He fell into the hollow trunk and could not get out. He began to pray for power, and asked everything all around for help; for he was frightened almost to death and thought he would never get out. A Fly flew into the hollow tree, and he prayed to him to give him any power that he had which would help him out of the tree. The Fly said that his power was too weak to help Coyote, but that he would go to a friend of his and bring him to help Coyote. The Fly flew away and soon returned, saying that his friend was coming. Finally he heard a bird on a tree near by, and he peeped out of a small hole in the tree and saw that the bird was a Woodpecker. The Woodpecker called to Coyote and asked him if he really wanted to get out. Coyote answered in a weak voice that he did. The Woodpecker said that he had to go and get some one to come and help him. Soon Woodpecker returned with some of his brothers, and they began to peck a hole in the hollow tree. At last the hole was big enough for Coyote to get out. He told them to stick their heads in and see if they thought he could get out all right. They stuck their heads in and Coyote bit their heads off. After he had eaten all the Woodpeckers who had worked to make the hole for him, he escaped.

Caddo, Legends,

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

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