Collection: Traditions of the Caddo

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. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start...

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Tale of Coyote, The Deer, And The Wind

One time when Coyote was out hunting something to eat he met Deer. Deer asked Coyote where he was going, and Coyote told him that he was going out hunting. Deer asked Coyote how he killed his game, for he noticed that he carried no bow and arrows. “I can kill anything I can get my hands on,” said Coyote. “But how do you get close enough to get your hands on your game?” Deer asked. “Sometimes I run the game down, sometimes I catch them asleep.” Deer said: “I am considered good food; even the human beings are very fond of my flesh. If you can catch me I will let you kill me and eat me.” Deer started to run, and Coyote started after him, but soon lost sight of him and gave out. He went on home, but he could not help thinking of Deer’s offer, and wondering how he could catch him. He wandered about trying to find him asleep, but never did. One time, after Coyote had been out searching to find Deer asleep, he grew very tired and lay down in the tall grass to take a nap. When he awoke he heard some one singing near by. He was badly frightened and sat up straight and rubbed his eyes and peeped about. He saw no one, but as he sat still and...

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Tale of Coyote’s Eyes Are Replaced By Buckeyes

One time Coyote was out hunting something to eat, and on his way he heard a noise and he said to himself, “I think those are some Turkeys that escaped from me some time ago. They will not get away this time, for I will kill them before I get home.” And so he made up his mind to go and see what they were doing, and to catch them. When he went to the place, he found Ducks playing about in the water. When they saw Coyote coming they knew him at once, for they had often heard about him. They came out of the water and stood on the bank, and when he came up they asked him if he would like to play with them. He said, “Yes, that is just what I want to do, and I will show you some of my tricks after you show me some of yours.” They debated what to play, and one of the Ducks spoke up and said: “We will play in the water. We will take one man and take his eyes out and let him dive into the water just as long as he can hold his breath, and as soon as he goes under the water we will throw his eyes into the water after him, and when he comes out from under the water...

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Tale of Coyote Turns Into A Corn Mill

The women made their corn mills from the trunk of an old tree. They cut a piece about two feet through and three or four feet high and hollowed it about twelve inches deep in one end. There they placed their corn and ground it to meal with a pounder. There were many of these mills, but one that was very old and smooth the women liked best. One day a woman went to use the old corn mill, and as she pounded her corn she saw that it was diminishing too fast, and when she had it ground she saw that she had only a little. She gathered up her meal and said nothing, but watched the next woman pound her corn. It disappeared in the same way, and so did the corn of the third and the fourth women who came to use the mill. They all wondered what could be the matter with the mill, and they examined it carefully and saw that it was not the old mill that they had always used. One of the women cried out to get an axe and cut it and see where their corn had disappeared. As one of the women ran to get an axe the mill fell over and began to roll about, and Coyote jumped up from the place where the mill had been and...

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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...

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Tale of Coyote Hunts Geese

Coyote was once a man and lived with the people. His great-grandfather named him Coyote, but because he did wrong the people came to dislike him and began to call him coward. The reason the people did not like him was because he was always scheming and trying to cheat some one. One time he went out to visit his best friend, and when he arrived at his friend’s lodge he found that his friend had been feasting on white geese. “Where did you get these white geese?” “Well,” said his friend, “I catch them every evening near the lake. Would you like to go with me this evening to catch a few of them?” “Yes,” said Coyote. His friend then said: “You go on home and come back this evening. We will then go together and I will show you where the geese always come in the evening, and I will see that you have a good time, too. “Oh, you do not have to show me how to get them; I can get them all right. All you have to do is just to show me where they are,” said Coyote. “All right,” said his friend, and Coyote was pleased, for he thought he was going to have a very fine, fat bird for supper that evening. He danced all the way from his friend’s home to...

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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...

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Tale of Coyote Escapes An Imaginary Foe

One time Coyote went out hunting buffalo. While he was going through the timber he found Turkey up on the top of a tall tree. He told Turkey that he was going to kill him if he did not get down from the tree. He said: “If you don’t come down I will climb the tree. If you fly to another tree, I will break it down at once, and will certainly kill you; but if you fly toward the prairie I cannot harm you, for I have no powers to kill anything on the prairie. “Turkey believed all that Coyote said and started out toward the prairie. Coyote was right under Turkey all the time. At first Turkey flew up so high that Coyote thought he was going to lose him, but after a long flight Turkey kept coming down lower and lower, and finally came down on the ground. Then Coyote was not very far behind and he caught up with him and killed him. While Coyote was eating Turkey, he happened to look around to make sure that no one was watching him. He thought that he saw somebody standing behind him making motions as if trying to strike him. He started to run without learning who it was. Every now and then he would look back to see if he were out of his reach....

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Tale of Coyote Dives For Meat

One time when Coyote was out hunting she killed a big deer. She cut the deer up and hid it in a tree while she went home to get her children to come and help her carry the meat home. Wild-Cat saw her kill the deer and hide it, and as soon as Coyote was gone he stole the meat and climbed a tree on the bank of the river, where Coyote could not see him. After a little while Coyote returned with all of her happy and hungry children. They looked every place for the meat. The children were angry at their mother and said that she had lied to them. While they were abusing her, she saw the reflection of the meat in the water, and, thinking that it was the meat, she told her children to sit still while she dived for it. She told them that it had fallen into the water, but that she could very easily get it if they would only be quiet and wait. She dived and struggled in the water, reaching for the meat, but never getting it. Finally she sat down upon the bank to rest, wondering how she could dive deep enough to get the meat. After she had rested she told the little Coyotes to bring her some stones. She tied the stones about her neck and...

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Tale of Coyote Challenges The Snake

One time while Coyote was out hunting something to eat he decided to go where Snake lived. He started in the direction he thought Snake lived and went to many places, but he could not find him. He went along talking to himself, saying, “I thought so; Snake is not so poisonous as people think, and if I ever find him I will show him my power.” He kept going from place to place. Finally he came to one place and thought he would stop and rest for a while. He was not there very long when he heard some one calling him. He arose and looked around and saw Snake coming toward him. When Snake came up to him, Coyote asked him how he was getting along in the world, since he had been made so small. “You look so small that I do not think you can do very much harm to any one, though I have heard many times that you have much poison. They say that you are more dangerous than I, and so that is the reason I have gone from place to place looking for you. Now that I have met you I want you to show me in what way you are more powerful and dangerous than I am.” Snake said: “Yes, I look very small to you, but you know that...

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Tale of Coyote Becomes A Buffalo

While Coyote was out hunting something to eat he met Buffalo, who was very powerful among his tribe. He was eating grass and looked fat and well fed. Coyote asked him if he would give him power to turn into a Buffalo and eat grass as he did. Buffalo said: “Yes, I will give you the power which was given to me by the Great-Father-Above, but when I give you the power you must not use it every chance you get, but only when very necessary.” He told Coyote to stand facing the other way and not to move, but to be brave as he was. Coyote stood still, wondering what was going to happen to him. Buffalo began to throw up dirt with his hoofs and to act very angrily. He told Coyote to keep his eyes closed. Then he made a plunge toward him, and when he was about to strike him with his horns, Coyote jumped out of the way, and Buffalo passed him without touching him. He did this the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth times, but the seventh time he stood there without moving. He could hear Buffalo coming at him, but he stood there awaiting what would happen to him. Buffalo struck him and rolled him under his stomach with his horns and threw him up into the air. When he came...

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Tale of Coyote And Turtle Run A Race

One time, as Coyote was returning from a long and unsuccessful hunt for game, he passed the home of his old friend Turtle. Being weary and hungry and in no hurry, he decided to stop and make Turtle a visit. Turtle invited him in and offered him something to eat, as Coyote had hoped that he would. While Coyote ate, Turtle stretched himself out to rest, saying, “I am tired out. I have just come back from the races.” Coyote asked “what races.” “Our people have been having foot races down by the river. Have not you heard of them?” Coyote smiled at the thought of Turtle’s racing and said that he had not heard of the races, and if he had he surely would have been there. “Who won?” he asked. “I did,” said Turtle. “I have never yet been beaten in a race with my people.” Coyote answered, “I have never been beaten either. I wonder how a race between us would come out.” “The way to find out is to have a race,” Turtle said. “I am willing, if you are. When shall we have it?” Coyote answered. They determined to run the race two days hence. In the meantime Coyote had finished eating, and so, promising to come on the second day to run the race, he departed. When he arrived home Coyote sent his...

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Tale of Coyote And The Turkeys

Coyote was looking for something to eat, for he was hungry as ever. Finally, on his way, he heard a noise. He thought to himself, “Some people must be having lots of fun,” so he made up his mind to go and enjoy himself with them. He went in the direction of the noise and he found many Turkeys. They were having fun by getting into a large sack and rolling down a steep hill. When the Turkeys saw him coming they said that they were going to put him in too. Coyote came and wanted to take part in the fun, for he thought it a good chance to kill some of the Turkeys. He let the Turkeys roll him down the hill two or three times; then he thought that his time had come to carry out his plan. He told all the Turkeys to get into the sack and he would roll them down the hill. Every one of them crawled into the sack, and then Coyote tied it fast at each end, so that they could not get out, and put it on his back and started for home. He had four young sons at home, and calling them to him he opened the sack and took out one of the Turkeys, saying: “You see this. I have that sack full of Turkeys. Build a...

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Tale of Coyote And The Six Brothers

An old woman lived alone with her seven sons. They were all good hunters and kept her busy preparing the game that they killed. One day the oldest son went out to hunt and did not return. After several days his dogs came back, but he did not come. The second son decided to go to search for his brother, and so he took the dogs and started out. After several days the dogs came back, but the second son did not come. The third son decided to go after his missing brothers. Again the dogs returned alone, and the brothers did not come. The fourth, the fifth, and the sixth sons in turn went to search for their missing brothers, but each time the dogs came back alone. The youngest son wanted to go, but his mother could not give him up, for she feared that he, too, would go, never to return. One day, after the brothers had been gone a long time, the little boy saw a raccoon in a tree. He asked his mother if he could not take his bow and arrow and kill it. She said that he could, and gave him his bow and arrow. He chased the raccoon from one tree to another until it had led him far into the thick timber. Finally it ran down a hollow tree and...

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Tale of Coyote And The Origin Of Death

In the beginning of this world there was no such thing as death. Every one continued to live until there were so many people that there was not room for any more on the earth. The chiefs held a council to determine what to do. One man arose and said that he thought it would be a good plan to have the people die and be gone for a little while, and then to return. As soon as he sat down Coyote jumped up and said that he thought that people ought to die forever, for this little world was not large enough to hold all of the people, and if the people who died came back to life there would not be food enough for all. All of the other men objected, saying that they did not want their friends and relatives to die and be gone forever, for then people would grieve and worry and there would not be any happiness in the world. All except Coyote decided to have the people die and be gone for a little while, and then to come back to life. The medicine-men built a large grass house facing the east, and when they had completed it they called all of the men of the tribe together and told them that they had decided to have the people who died come...

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