Sunday, August 3, 2008

Coyote Story

"Dancing Coyote" downloaded from fotosearch

Coyote Steals the Sun's Tobacco, Learns To Plant It, Gets Married, Gives Tobacco as a Wedding Gift

One day, Ma'atose was bored. Nothing seemed to interest him. Finally he decided to go and visit his cross-cousin Sun. He thought that this would be a fine idea. Sun always had good tobacco and Slim Coyote felt that a smoke might help him to think better.

On the way to his cousin's house he decided to stop in and see if his friends among the Chiricauhua had any tizwit (homemade whiskey from cactus) or something else to take as a gift. The Chiricauhua did have plenty of tizwit, so much in fact, that Coyote stayed for nearly a week. Then, right in the middle of a good drunk, he got all jumpy and nervous. He went to see an Hatta'alli (medicine singer and herb doctor) about it and was told that when he felt like that he should settle down someplace quiet with a good pipe and calm down.

Coyote threw some tizwit, some shell beads, a few good stones of turquoise into a bag and headed off to go visit Sun. He was riding his spotted horse Cho'osh (gonorrhea) and the ride helped him to clear his head.

He got to Sun's house way up in the high mountains and knocked on the door. Sun's wife answered and said that Sun wasn't home, but would his cross-cousin like to come in and wait for him?

Coyote went in and admired the beautiful house of Sun. Then he saw that Sun had left a great big bag of tobacco hanging on the wall next to some pipes. He told Sun's wife that he had been told by a doctor that he should take a smoke now and then to help calm his thoughts. Since they were cousins and all he figured Sun wouldn't mind if he waited for him with a smoke or two. Then, when Sun came home, Coyote would be all calmed down and they could share some tizwit. While he was rummaging through his bag to get the tizwit out, he made sure that he spilled out a couple of the turquoise stones.

Sun's wife saw the turquoise and was mighty impressed. She admired Coyote right out of them both. As soon as she had left the room to go put the gemstones away Coyote took Sun's tobacco bag and emptied most of it into his own pouch. Then he filled a little pipe with Sun's tobacco and began to smoke. While he smoked he tried to figure out the rest of his plan.

When Sun's wife returned Coyote was just finishing up that first pipe. He noticed that this was the finest tobacco he had ever smoked and complimented Sun's wife on her fine hospitality. Sun's wife said that this was some special tobacco that Spider Woman's son Cornstalk had brought to Sun to thank him for the last good growing season.

Coyote settled in and thought some more. Then, he brought out a full skin of tizwit and laid it on the table. He said "Since my cousin isn't here it wouldn't be right for us to get drunk together, I'll just leave this here to say thank you. I really want to have a pipe and a drink at the same time. So I'll just go now." Sun's wife was so impressed by Coyote's generous gifts that she didn't even notice that he had slipped Sun's little pipe into his own bag. She said goodbye at the door and gave him a little traveling food for good measure.

When Sun got home he sniffed the air and smelled the tobacco smoke. He went over to where he kept the bag of tobacco and saw that most of it was gone. He went to his wife and said "Wife dear, who has come to visit and left our house just now?" Sun's wife said "It was your nice cousin Ma'atose. See what he left me?" She was holding up the two turquoise stones. Then she said "He also left you a nice skin of tizwit, but he had to leave, because he was too polite to ask me to drink with him."

Sun was very mad, but he saw that his wife had been tricked so he just told her "I will go find my cousin and I will thank him for his visit. I might even bring him back to have dinner with us, if that's alright with you." Sun's wife said "I told him he was welcome to come visit any time."

Sun went and got his best tracking horse, Southern Black Wind Horse, and set out after Coyote. Cho'osh was a very fast horse who was also very light footed and didn't leave behind many tracks. That didn't bother Sun a bit though. He knew something about the tobacco that Coyote had stolen. Everywhere Coyote smoked the scent lingered behind. Also, everytime Coyote filled another pipe, a little bit of the tobacco spilled, as soon as the tobacco hit the ground it began to grow and flower. Southern Black Wind Horse followed his nose, and Sun followed his eyes. They were gaining on Coyote easily.

Cho'osh sensed that they were being followed and suggested to Coyote that they maybe take a rest at Cornstalk's place. Coyote thought that this was a very good idea.

They found Cornstalk getting seeds ready for the next spring. He noticed that Coyote had some of the special tobacco that he had given to Sun and told him that this was how Sun was able to follow him so easily. Coyote gave the pouch with Sun's tobacco over to Cornstalk along with some white shell beads that he knew Cornstalk's mother loved the best. Cornstalk was very impressed by this generous action and got another bag of the same tobacco and gave that to Coyote. He told him about the way it would grow everywhere some of it fell and that he had been planning to take that bag to the White Mountains to give to those people there. Coyote said "I will take that tobacco to the mountain people for you. Just please, try and calm my cousin down so that his anger doesn't burn me up to a crisp."

Coyote took off pretty quick. Just like he had promised, Cornstalk was able to calm Sun down. He reminded Sun about the turquoise and tizwit that Coyote had left for him and suggested that if Sun had been there at home, he would have given the tobacco and pipe to Coyote anyway. Sun thought about that for a while and began to cool off a bit. Then he said "I'll just go back home now. But, if you see our trickster of a cousin you tell him that he should ask before taking things from people. Even when he leaves things behind. It's just not polite."

Cornstalk said that he had sent Coyote on an errand to the humans for now, but the next time that he saw him he'd tell him that he owed his cousin Sun an apology and some favors. Cornstalk knew Coyote didn't mind owing people favors.

Coyote and Cho'osh got to where the White Mountain people were staying and he invited himself to stay with them for a while. The White Mountain people liked Coyote a lot, even though he was tricky, and a liar, they knew that mostly his heart was a complete circle that began and ended with love. Sometimes he just had to be tricked himself into doing something nice for a change.

Coyote was sitting with the people smoking his pipe and sharing the tobacco that Cornstalk had given him. He showed the people how to make it grow in the mountains and the people were very grateful. They held a council and decided that they should do something nice for Coyote to thank him. They went to Coyote and told him that for this fine gift of tobacco they would let Coyote choose a wife from among their single women.

Coyote was already married two or three times, but not once in the White Mountains, so he thought that this would be a very good idea. The single women came and danced and sang for Coyote. They were all wearing beautiful white skin dresses with long fringes that swayed while they danced. There was one girl that Coyote just couldn't stop looking at. He told the council "I think that's the one I should marry."

The council thought together for a bit, they knew something that Coyote didn't know. In the White Mountains there are people called iishkiln iit'teen (boys who live as girls). They just are happier when they are allowed to pretend that they are women, and since it makes them happy, the White Mountain people pretend along with them. It makes things easier for us all that way. That way, everybody's happy.

They decided since they had promised Coyote could choose his wife they had better just go through with it and let things happen the way they would happen.

It turned out that Coyote was very tired from his long chase by the Sun and after some kissing and some cuddling he fell right to sleep. He didn't know that he had married a boy until the next morning. He was very angry. He went to the council and told them that he felt like he had been tricked. The council explained the way our people lived to Coyote and said that there were many such people living that way. There were also men, who lived like men but enjoyed the attention and company of other men who were among them. There were some women who loved other women. Just different ways of loving that seemed to work out just fine when people mind their own business and don't try to control other people's spirits.

Then one of the elders asked Coyote "Why did you choose Dló Itsogè? (oriole)" Coyote said "Because she was the prettiest."

The elder said "We think so too." Then he asked "Why else did you choose her?"

Coyote said "Because she was a very graceful dancer and was dressed so fine I figured she would make me some nice clothes."

The elder said "We think so too."

The elder then asked "Were there any other reasons that made you pick her?"

Coyote said "She sang a very beautiful song, I thought she was singing just for me."

The elder said "We thought the very same thought."

Coyote decided that Dló Itsogè would make a perfect White Mountain wife. After all, it wasn't like he was going against the way the people there lived. He figured he could just be a White Mountain person when he was with them, and be anything else he wanted to be other places.

Sometimes he would get a little confused about those things though. He would start to worry about himself for loving his White Mountain wife and wonder if that made him funny or something.

When that happened he'd always go down to the river and throw rocks at the water spirits. That always made him feel lots better.