Coyote Meets Wind and Some Others

Coyote wanted to travel, to see some new country, so he took Mole and the children to the lodge of his friend, Badger. He asked Badger to take care of them, and Badger said he would.

"I am going to hunt for enemies, E-whe-whoot'-ken, my friend," said Coyote. "I am going where there is great danger. Here is a little sack that belongs to me. Hang it on a tepee pole. If it should fall from the pole, you will know that I am dead. If it stays where you hang it, I am alive."

Badger hung the sack on a tepee pole, and Coyote started. He traveled for some time without meeting any enemies or getting into trouble. Then, one sun, he heard someone singing at the top of a high cliff. He went that way. He saw a sweat-house by the edge of the cliff. Inside was the singer. Hanging on a branch of a tree by the sweat-house was a suit of very fine buckskin clothes. Coyote liked that suit. He wanted it. He walked up to the sweat-house.

"I would like to sweat with you," he called, and the singer, who was Sin-nee-iut-Wind, stopped singing.

"I have used up all the water," he answered. "If you want to sweat-house you will have to get water down at the bottom of this cliff."

"I will get some water," Coyote said, and he picked up a water-basket and went down to the base of the cliff and filled it with water. He carried it back to Wind's sweat-lodge. "I have the water. I will pass it in to you," and he lifted the door-flap as if to hand the basket in to "Wind. But, as Wind reached for the basket, Coyote threw all of the water on the hot stones in the sweat-house. That made such a steam that Wind was scalded to death.

Coyote laughed and put on the fine buckskin clothing, which was decorated with nice shell ornaments. Quite pleased with himself, Coyote walked away. Pretty soon he wished there was a gentle breeze to blow the shells and make them rattle. Right away his wish brought a soft breeze that tinkled the shells. Then Coyote wished for a stronger wind, and a strong wind came. It blew harder and harder, until it lifted Coyote off his feet and spun him through the air. His wishing had brought Sin-nee-iut back to life.

The wind carried Coyote to the top of the cliffs that watch over the Big Falls of the Swah-netk'-qhu. There he grasped a little bush that grew out of the cliff. The bush was Spet-zen' - Hemp-and her sister. The Hemp sisters stripped Coyote of his stolen clothes, and they held him down under the edge of the cliff. Wind came along presently, looking for Coyote. "Where is Sm-ka-lip'?" he asked.

"He fell into the falls and was drowned," answered Hemp, and Wind believed her. He put on his clothes and went away. Then the sisters pulled Coyote up beside them. He was glad to be saved, and he said, "Now, what can I do to help you?"

"We barely exist," said Hemp. "All the time we suffer from thirst. We have to live on the little moisture that sprays up from the falls. It is not enough. We need water."

"I will give you water," said Coyote, and he walked off a few steps and threw water on the rocks around Hemp and her sister. Then, out of the cliff trickled some water. You will notice today that hemp grows only where the ground is wet.

Coyote left the Hemp sisters and walked until he came to a large encampment by a lake. Yelling that enemies were coming, he ran into the camp like he was being chased. The people were scared. They grabbed their weapons and made their canoes ready for war. Then Coyote talked to his squas-tenk'. He had it put all of the people to sleep. Coyote collected their weapons and food, which he loaded into one canoe. Then he broke all the other canoes and paddled out on the lake.

When the people awoke they hurried to make new weapons and new canoes. They knew who had tricked them. They started after Coyote. Seeing them coming, he caused a heavy fog with his medicine-power. The fog settled close to the water and all over the lake. None of the people could see into the fog-none but Swa-lah'-kin - Frog-woman. The fog did not bother her. She took the lead and guided the others. Not knowing that Frog-woman could follow through the fog, Coyote thought he was safe. He paddled his canoe to shore and went to sleep on the beach. There the people found and killed him.

Many moons later, Sui-ah'-Cougar-traveled through that country. He traveled high up along the mountain sides. As he came close to the death-place of Coyote, he became thirsty and went down to the lake. There he found what was left of Coyote. He collected the remains and stepped over Coyote three times, and Coyote returned to life.

"Eh-ahe! Kes-sap tee-seh-eet!" ("Eh! Long time sleep!") said Coyote, stretching and yawning.

"You have not been sleeping," corrected Cougar. "You were dead. You were killed by the Arrow Lakes people."

"May I go along with you, Big Teeth?" asked Coyote.

"Well, I prefer to travel alone," said Cougar, "but you may come with me, if you will promise to keep out of mischief."

Coyote said he would keep out of trouble, so they set out together. That night they camped on a mountain top. Cougar brought out a small bag of food. Coyote thought it would not be enough for the both of them. He was hungry-he was always hungry. Cougar read his thoughts.

"There is plenty here for the two of us," he said. "Eat all you want." So Coyote ate heartily. When he and Cougar had finished, he was surprised to see that the bag was as full of food as at first. Cougar told Coyote to throw the scraps away. Coyote did not want to do that. He thought that was wasteful. But Cougar insisted, and he threw away the scraps. Then they slept.

In the morning Cougar brought out another bag-a deer-bladder full of food-and, when they were through eating, the bladder was still full. That day, from the top of a mountain, Cougar pointed out his lodge.

"I must go home now to my children, as they are hungry," he said. "I will give you a bow and two arrows," and he gave them to Coyote. "This first arrow is to kill deer. Shoot it through a divide in a hill and you will kill a deer. This other arrow is for birds. Do not get them mixed up. Do not shoot a bird with the deer-arrow and do not loot a deer with the bird-arrow. If you use them wrong, you will lose the arrows.

After Cougar left him, Coyote tried is new arrows. He shot the deer-arrow through a divide and killed a deer. He ate the deer. Then he shot a pheasant with the bird-arrow, and he ate the pheasant. He saw another pheasant He shot it with the deer-arrow, but it did not fall. It sat, with the arrow sticking through it. So he shot the bird-arrow, and the pheasant flew off with both arrows. It sailed down the mountain and out of sight. Coyote hated to lose those arrows so he tried to follow the pheasant. He came to a tepee. He went in. By the fire sat Char'-tups - Fisher. The two lost arrows were there. Fisher had them.

"Long Tail," said Coyote, "I came to get those arrows."

"The arrows belonged to my older brother, Sui-ah' answered Fisher. "I have found them and I will keep them. But I will give you two of my own arrows. They are like the others, and the rule is the same. Do not mix them when you shoot."

Coyote took Fisher's arrows and went away feeling good. But he soon forgot the rule for the arrows. He mixed them, shooting the wrong one first, and a pheasant flew off with both arrows. Following the pheasant. Coyote came to the lodge of Pip-qus-Marten, who had the lost arrows in his hand.

"No, I cannot give you these arrows," explained Marten. "They belonged to my older brother, Fisher. I found them, and I will keep them, but I will give you two of my own arrows. They are used the same way, by the same rule."

Marten gave Coyote two arrows, but it was not long before foolish Coyote forgot the rule and shot the wrong one and then the other, and both arrows were lost. He hunted for them until he grew tired. Then he decided to go home. When he reached his tepee, he stopped outside to listen. He heard Badger crying. He crept close and peeked through the doorway, and his youngest son shouted:

"Le-ee'-oo!" ("Father!")

"Your father is dead," Badger said to the boy. "He never will come back."

"No!" the boy answered. "I see my father now! Look-at the doorway." He pointed. Then Badger saw Coyote peeking.

"You were dead," said Badger. "The little sack fell from the pole many moons ago."

"I was tired," Coyote replied. "I slept by the water. The Arrow Lakes people followed me. They found me sleeping. They killed me. Big Teeth found my bones and helped me back to life."

Coyote was glad to be home again, and Mole and the children were glad, too. So was Badger.

Taken from Coyote Stories by Mourning Dove [Christine Quintasket], 1933