Topic: Legends

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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Tale of Coyote And Rabbit Kill A Buffalo

Rabbit and his grandmother lived by themselves, and Rabbit often went out to hunt to get something for them to eat. He began to go pretty far from home, and his grandmother scolded him and told him not to go so far, but to remember that he was little and might be killed. Rabbit did not pay any attention, for he knew that he was a good runner. One time he went far away, but could not find any game, and so he turned around to go home. As he went he played along the way and sang to himself. Coyote was out the same day looking for something to eat. He was just about to give up and go home when he heard some one singing. He looked all about and saw Rabbit. He grinned to himself and quietly slipped up behind Rabbit. When he knew that he was so close that Rabbit could not get away, he yelled “Bo!” at Rabbit and made a grab for him. Rabbit was badly frightened, but he determined not to give up. He said: “Coyote don’t kill me yet and I will tell you how to kill some good game. I cannot do it alone, and I have just been wishing that you would come and help me with my scheme.” “What is it?” asked Coyote, very much interested. “I know...

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Tale of Buffalo Woman

In a village there lived a cannibal at that time and the people called him Snow-Bird-with-White-Wings. He had a handsome son, who would not marry any of his own tribe. The father named his son Braveness because he was very brave in hunting. Whenever he went out to hunt he brought home many kinds of game that he had killed. Many of the young girls tried to win him as a husband, but Braveness would pay no attention to any of them. One night he decided to go hunting the next day. Early the next morning he started out toward the west. While he was going along looking and watching for wild animals he saw some one sitting ahead of him under a small elm tree. He approached the person and saw that it was a woman. She called him to come where she was, and he obeyed and saw that she was very beautiful and very young. She told him that she knew he was coming there and so she had come to meet him. He listened eagerly to hear what she had to say. She asked him if she could stay with him, and if he would take her to his home and let her become his wife. He told her that he would take her to his home, but that she must ask his parents if...

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Tales of Coyote Imitates His Host

In the days of old, when animals were like people and talked and visited each other, Coyote and Raven were great friends. One day after Coyote had grown weary of hunting for game and finding none, he went up to the top of the mountain to see his friend Raven. Raven had control of the buffalo and was always seen with the herds. (Now, since the buffalo has gone from the earth, Raven has disappeared and is seldom seen any more.) Raven invited Coyote to enter, and when he saw Coyote weary and sad and silent he arose, took an arrow, shot it up into the air, and then stood waiting for it to come down. It came down and pierced him under the right arm. He drew the arrow out and with it came buffalo meat and fat. He gave the meat to Coyote, who ate heartily. Then Coyote smacked his mouth, arose, and said that he must be going, but before he went he gave Raven an urgent invitation to come over and make him a visit, and Raven promised to come. When Coyote went home he began making a bow and arrow, and when he had finished them he put them away until Raven should visit him. One day Raven bethought himself of his promise, and so he left his home in haste to pay Coyote...

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The Hunter and Medicine Legend

There once lived a man who was a great hunter. His generosity was the theme of praise in all the country, for he not only supplied his own family with food, but distributed game among his friends and neighbors, and even called the birds and animals of the forest to partake of his abundance. For this reason he received the appellation of “Protector of Birds and Animals.” He lived a hunter’s life till war broke out between his own and some distant nation, and then he took the war path. He was as brave a warrior as he was a skillful hunter, and slew a great multitude of the enemy, till all were lying dead around him, except one, who was a mighty man of valor , and in an unguarded moment the hunter received a blow from his tomahawk on the head, which felled him to the earth; his enemy then took his scalp and fled. Some of his own party saw what befell him, and supposing him dead left him on the field of battle; but a fox who had wandered this way immediately recognized his benefactor. Sorrowful indeed, was he to find him thus slain, and began to revolve in his mind some means of restoring him to life. “Perhaps,” said he, “some of my friends may know of a medicine by which his wounds may...

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Great Spirit

An Indian hunter went forth to hunt, and as he wandered through the forest he heard a strain of beautiful music far off among the trees. He listened, but could not tell whence it came; he knew it could not be by any human voice, or from any instrument he had ever heard. As it came near it ceased. The next evening he went forth again, but he heard no music, and again, but in van. Then came the Great Spirit to him in a dream and told him to fast, wash himself till he was purified, then he might go forth and would hear again the music. So he purified himself and went again among the dark trees of the forest, and soon his ear caught the sweet strains, as he drew near they became more beautiful; he listened till he learned them and could make the same sweet sound, then he knew that it was a plant with a tall green stem and long tapering leaves. He took his knife and cut the stalk, but ere he had scarcely finished, it healed and was the same as before; he cut it again, and again it healed. Then he knew it would heal diseases, he took it home, dried it by the fire, pulverized it, and applied a few particles of it to a dangerous wound; no sooner...

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Medicine Legends of the Iroquois

The two above are the legends concerning the principal medicines used among the Iroquois. The ancient manner of administering them, was to take a small wooden goblet and go to a running stream, dipping toward the way which the stream ran, fill the goblet and return, place it near the fire with some tobacco near it; a prayer is offered while tobacco is thrown upon the fire, that the words may ascend upon the smoke. The medicine is placed on a piece of skin near the goblet, being very finely pulverized, is taken up with a wooden spoon and dusted upon the water in three spots, in the form of a triangle, thus: The medicine man then looks at it critically, if it spreads over the surface of the water and whirls about, it is a sign that the invalid will be healed; if it sinks directly in the places where it was put, there is no hope, the sick person must die and the whole is thrown away. Once in six months there is a great feast made, at the hunting season in fall and spring. On the night of the feast as soon as it is dark, all who are present assemble in one room, where no light or fire is allowed to burn, and placing the medicine near the covered embers, the tobacco by its side,...

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