SW/CA: Coyote and Hare; Coyote and Fawns

This page contains two stories about Coyote the trickster from the Zia Pueblo people, and in both stories you will see that this trickster himself gets tricked. You can learn more about the role that Coyote plays in different Native American cultures at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Southwestern and California Legends unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest by Katharine Berry Judson (1912).

Coyote and the Hare
Sia (New Mexico)

One day Coyote was passing about when he saw Hare sitting before his house. Coyote thought, "In a minute I will catch you," and he sprang and caught Hare.

Hare cried, "Man Coyote, do not eat me. Wait just a minute; I have something to tell you — something you will be glad to hear — something you must hear."

"Well," said Coyote, "I will wait."

"Let me sit at the entrance of my house," said Hare. "Then I can talk to you."

Coyote allowed Hare to take his seat at the entrance.

Hare said, "What are you thinking of, Coyote?"

"Nothing," said Coyote.

"Listen, then," said Hare. "I am a hare and I am very much afraid of people. When they come carrying arrows, I am afraid of them. When they see me they aim their arrows at me and I am afraid, and oh! how I tremble!"

Hare began trembling violently until he saw Coyote a little off his guard, then he began to run. It took Coyote a minute to think and then he ran after Hare, but always a little behind. Hare raced away and soon entered a house, just in time to escape Coyote. Coyote tried to enter the house but found it was hard stone. He became very angry.

Coyote cried, "I was very stupid! Why did I allow this Hare to fool me? I must have him. But this house is so strong; how can I open it?"

Coyote began to work, but after a while he said to himself, "The stone is so strong I cannot open it."

Presently Hare called, "Man Coyote, how are you going to kill me?"

"I know how," said Coyote. "I will kill you with fire."

"Where is the wood?" asked Hare, for he knew there was no wood at his house.

"I will bring grass," said Coyote, "and set fire to it. The fire will enter your house and kill you."

"Oh," said Hare, "but the grass is mine. It is my food; it will not kill me. It is my friend. The grass will not kill me."

"Then," said Coyote, "I will bring all the trees of the wood and set fire to them."

"All the trees know me," said Hare. "They are my friends. They will not kill me. They are my food."

Coyote thought a minute. Then he said, "I will bring the gum of the pinon and set fire to that."

Hare said, "Now I am afraid. I do not eat that. It is not my friend."

Coyote rejoiced that he had thought of a plan for getting the hare. He hurried and brought all the gum he could carry and placed it at the door of Hare's house and set fire to it.

In a short time the gum boiled like hot grease, and Hare cried, "Now I know I shall die! What shall I do?" Yet all the time he knew what he would do.

But Coyote was glad Hare was afraid.

After a while Hare called, "The fire is entering my house."

And Coyote answered, "'Blow it out!" But Coyote drew nearer and blew with all his might to blow the flame into Hare's house

Hare cried, "You are so close you are blowing the fire on me and I will soon be burned."

Coyote was so happy that he drew closer and blew harder, and drew still closer so that his face was very close to Hare's face. Then Hare suddenly threw the boiling gum into Coyote's face and escaped from his house.

It took Coyote a long time to remove the gum from his face, and he felt very sorrowful. He said, "I am very, very stupid."

Coyote and the Fawns
Sia (New Mexico)

Another day when he was traveling around, Coyote met a deer with two fawns. The fawns were beautifully spotted, and he said to the deer, "How did you paint your children? They are so beautiful!"

Deer replied, "I painted them with fire from the cedar."

"And how did you do the work?" asked Coyote.

"I put my children into a cave and built a fire of cedar in front of it. Every time a spark flew from the fire it struck my children, making a beautiful spot."

"Oh," said Coyote, "I will do the same thing. Then I will make my children beautiful."

He hurried to his house and put his children in a cave. Then he built a fire of cedar in front of it and stood off to watch the fire. But the children cried because the fire was very hot. Coyote kept calling to them not to cry because they would be beautiful like the deer.

After a time the crying ceased and Coyote was pleased. But when the fire died down, he found they were burned to death. Coyote expected to find them beautiful, but instead they were dead.

Then he was enraged with the deer and ran away to hunt her, but he could not find her anywhere. He was much distressed to think the deer had fooled him so easily.

(800 words)

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