Pacific NW: Coyote in the Buffalo Country

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 in the Buffalo Country

COYOTE took to the trail again. After a while he had nothing to eat. He was nearly starved. He went into a tepee at noon and lay down to rest. He was very weak because he had had nothing to eat. This happened in the Jocko Valley.

Coyote heard someone halloo, but he could not see any one. Then someone called again. After he had looked carefully for some time, Coyote saw Eagle a long ways off. Eagle said that far away there was a country where there were buffalo all the time. Eagle said, "I am going there, but you cannot. You are too poor."

Then Coyote was angry. Coyote said, "I can go anywhere. I am going there." Coyote started out and in fifteen days he reached the place. It was near Great Falls. There was a big camp there and the chief's name was Bear. The people did not like Bear. When buffalo were killed, Bear would take  the best pieces for himself— all the good meat and the chunks of fat.

Coyote wanted to be chief himself. So he killed a big buffalo and stripped off all the fat. Then he cut the meat in strips and hung it up to dry. After that he built a big fire and heated some stones red hot.

Bear heard that Coyote had killed a buffalo, so he came to look at the meat. Bear said, "This is nice meat. I will take it."

Coyote said, "I saved some fat for you." Then Coyote took a red hot stone, wrapped it in fat, and put it in Bear's mouth. Thus Coyote killed Bear. Then the people made Coyote chief.

Now Bear was a great medicine man. Whatever he wished came true. There were many buffalo at Great Falls because Bear had wished it. After Coyote became chief all the buffalo went away. Then the people said, "Coyote is a bad chief."

Coyote went out again to hunt for buffalo. He was all alone and he hunted for five days. But the buffalo were all gone. Coyote was ashamed to go back to the camp so he kept right on.

In a little while Coyote met Wolf.

Wolf said, "Where are you going?"

Coyote said, "I am going to travel all over the world."

Wolf went on ahead. Soon Coyote heard someone coming. It was a man with plenty of meat.

Coyote lay down by the trail and pretended to be dead. The man stopped. He said, "This is pretty good fur." So he threw Coyote among the meat and went on.

Coyote ate all the meat he could hold. Then he ran away. After a while he met Wolf again. Wolf said, "You look fat. Where did you get meat?"

Coyote told him he had pretended to be dead. He said, "The man wanted me for my fur. Your fur is finer than mine. If you pretend to be dead, you can get meat."

Wolf heard the man coming so he lay down by the trail and pretended to be dead. The man stopped. He said, "This is pretty good fur, but I'll make sure he is dead."

Then he hit Wolf with a club. He hit Wolf twice. Then Wolf jumped up and ran away.

Wolf was very angry. He said, "Coyote did this on purpose. I will kill Coyote."

Wolf ran and Coyote ran. After a while Wolf overtook Coyote. Wolf said, "Why did you play that trick on me? Now I will kill you."

Coyote said, "Wait until I tell you something. Then you can kill me."

Wolf said, "What do you want to tell me?"

Coyote said, "There are only two of us. It is not fair for us to fight alone. Let us get others to fight with us. Then it will be like one tribe fighting another." Wolf agreed. So Wolf went in one direction and Coyote in another.

Wolf met Bear. Wolf said, "Come with me and fight Coyote." Then Bear and Wolf went on together. In a little while they met Mole. Wolf said, "Come with me and fight Coyote." So Wolf and Bear and Mole went on together.

Now Coyote had gone in another direction. He met Cat and Dog. Coyote said, "Come with me and fight Wolf." So Coyote and Cat and Dog went on together.

Now Wolf reached the meeting-place first. He looked up and said, "I see Coyote coming." Coyote was coming with Cat and Dog. Coyote was dressed up, with beaded moccasins and a beaded shirt. Therefore he was a great chief. When the fight began, Coyote with Cat and Dog killed all his enemies. Then Coyote went on alone.

(800 words)

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