Pacific NW: Coyote and the Dragon

This story is part of the Pacific Northwest unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon, by Katharine Berry Judson (1910).


Coyote and the Dragon
Nez Perce

LONG ago, in the Willamette Valley, there lived a monster who made all the people afraid. It lived in a cave. At night it would come from its cave, seize and eat people, and return to the cave in the morning. All night it would eat the people.

Coyote heard of this monster and decided to help the people. Coyote was the cunningest and shrewdest of all the animals.

Now the monster could not endure daylight. It lived always in the dark. So one day when the sun was very bright and high up in the heavens, Coyote took his bow and arrows and went to a mountain top. He shot one of the arrows into the sun. Then he shot another into the lower end of the first one, and then another into the lower end of the second. At last Coyote had a chain of arrows that reached from the sun to the earth. Then he pulled the sun down. He pulled hard until it came down. Then he hid it in the Willamette River.

Now the monster thought night had come. Everything was dark because the sun was hid in the river. So the monster came out from his cave and attacked the people. Then Coyote broke the chain which held the sun down, and it sprang up in the sky again. The monster was blinded because the light was so bright. Then Coyote killed it.

When the pale-faces found the big bones of the monster and carried them away, Indians said evil would come of it.



(300 words)






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