BNA: Grizzly Bear and Coyote

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Grizzly Bear and Coyote

ONE day Grizzly Bear met Coyote and said to him, "I am great in magic, greater than all of the people. When I wish a thing to be so, it has to be so. Now, I do not like having it dark so short a time. I intended to make it dark all the time."

Coyote said, "Oh, no! That would inconvenience the people too much."

Grizzly Bear said, "I intend to have it my way."

Coyote said, "No, you can't!"

At once Grizzly Bear began to dance, singing, "Darkness! darkness! darkness! Let it always be dark!" That was his song.

Coyote also danced and sang, "Light! light! light! light! Let it always be light!" Thus Coyote sang. They danced and sang a long, long time. Sometimes it was dark, when Grizzly sang loudest, and sometimes it was light when Coyote sang loudest. But neither won.

At last Grizzly Bear became tired. He said, "Let's have it dark half the time, and light half the time."

Coyote agreed. He said, "Hereafter it shall be light from the time that the sun prepares to follow the trail through the Sky Land until he reaches the edge of the Darkening Land. The rest of the time shall be night. Thus every day shall Sun travel. When he leaves the Earth Plain, the darkness shall follow him."

After a while, Grizzly Bear said, "I do not like the length of the year. Winter is far too short. Let winter be as many moons long as there are feathers in the tail of Blue Grouse."

So they counted and found twenty-two feathers in the tail of Blue Grouse. Grizzly Bear wanted winter to be twenty-two moons long! Coyote said at once, "Oh, no! The people would die. Let winter be half that number."

Grizzly Bear objected. Then Coyote said, "Let there be as many moons in the year as there are feathers in Flicker's tail."

Grizzly Bear agreed, because he thought there were many feathers in Flicker's tail. Now, when they counted, there were only twelve feathers in Flicker's tail. But it was too late to make any change. So Coyote said, "Hereafter in a year there shall be six months of warm weather and six months in which it may snow and be cold."

Thus Coyote saved the people from living in darkness, and from very long, cold winters.

(400 words)

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