The great character in all Southwest animal tales is, of course, Coyote. In Cochiti his character is unusually consistent and no tales are recorded that clash with it. 1 He is an ill-omened cheat, imitator, and fool, never the clever inventor nor culture hero with magic power. This concept is so strong that even the Cochiti analogues of Hoodwinked Dancers can be identified only by the line of the song: "Coyote is going to hit you on the back," and the tale is only of a decrepit Grandfather Coyote singing to his drum over and over to the delight of the prairie dogs (p. 144). When in Cochiti they do tell of Coyote's murderous intent at a dance of prairie dogs, they tell how the prairie dogs taunted him and escaped into their holes. He dug till his tongue hung out, but he did not get one (p. 144).
The tale of how the prey animals fasted for their power, given under the Origin Tales, is consistent with this character of Coyote:
The other animals carried out their fast and were blest, but Coyote cheated by drinking water and sacred meal on the third day and his punishment was to get his food with difficulty forever (p. 8).
The same punishment is elsewhere visited upon Coyote for opening the jar of stars that had been entrusted to him by Our Mother (p. 4).
Quail brought her children to play just above Whirlpool Place. She sang while they danced. Coyote came along and wanted her children to play with the young quails. Quail sang for them. Coyote noticed that her children had no topknots, and was told, by Quail that she had put sticks in her children's heads to make them. Coyote tried to do likewise, hammering sticks into her children's heads. Thus she killed them, and Quail and her children ran off. (p. 145).
Coyote and Rattlesnake lived at Gamatsika. They planned to invite each other to a great feast. Coyote, invited Rattlesnake first, and prepared paper bread and meat for them, killing a sheep for the occasion. She called her guest who came in and coiled himself on the floor, but he did not care for the feast because he only ate sacred meal and pollen. When Rattlesnakes turn came,
he thought of what Coyote might like and went out and killed two chickens. Coyote, wishing to imitate the snake, tied a gourd rattle on his tall, but found this too heavy and replaced it with corn husks. He came in to Rattlesnake's and turned around as his guest had done, and tried to make a noise with his tall. Because his guest had refused his feast, he too refused. Rattlesnake was angry and ran at him, for he thought he was being mocked, and Coyote had to escape. So he lost the chickens (p. 146).
For Bungling Host, see also introduction to "Bear and Deer" tale (pp. 160, 161, notes, p. 243).
There were many foxes and coyotes living at White Bank. Fox was invited by Coyote to race him to a big pond. Fox saw the full moon in the pond and told Coyote that somebody there had a big piece of cheese. Fox suggested that they drink the pond up in order to get the cheese. They took turns, Fox pretending to drink, and Coyote drinking. When Coyote was nearly exhausted, Fox said that he would get the cheese, put it out on a stone, and they would both race for it. He pulled up a white stone and carried It to the appointed place. But Coyote, when she began the race, burst, and "got no cheese" (p. 147).
Coyote was told that he should look into the water of a little stream. When he did this he saw something which he was told was cheese, and it was suggested that he jump in and get it. This he did and was drowned (p. 148).
At Whirlpool Place a duck lived with her ducklings. She sang for them to jump into the river. Coyote heard her and decided that her children should do likewise. The young coyotes were afraid of the water. Duck sang for them, but they would not jump. Coyote threw half of them into the water and they were drowned. She cried so for her lost children that she died (p. 148).
There was a bank of paper bread of all colors, and at the foot of this there was a pond of sweet corn milk. A crow was perched on the top of this bank singing, and every time he sang, he bit off a piece of the paper bread and flew down and drank of the sweet corn milk. Coyote came along and tried to imitate him, but when he jumped from the bank, he was drowned in the pond. Crow was glad for he wanted his eyes. Crow called all the small animals to come to get his fur for their nests, and all the birds who ate meat, to get his flesh. An old man came along with a basket and picked up the bones for soup, and took them home to his wife (p. 149).
Old Man Coyote is the proverbial bad hunter in the fable "Coyote and Beaver exchange wives" (p. 136, notes, p. 236).
Roadrunner girls were grinding corn, and Coyote Woman wanted to grind too. They told her to bring something to grind, and she brought hard acorns and could not break them. Roadrunner girls made a precipice in front of the door and excused themselves one by one. When Coyote Woman went out she fell and was killed. Crow plucked her eyes out and called all the little animals to get fur for their nests from the dead coyote. There was nothing left but bones, and an old man took these home to his wife to make soup of (p. 149).
Coyote went to get water for her children and was bringing it back when somebody called that she had a ball on her toe. She screamed and spilled the water. This happened a second time. The third time she drank lots, and while she was running back, she burst, and her children didn't get any water after all (p. 150).
Crow went visiting a pueblo, bringing a song to make them happy. He took his mother's dancing shells. Only Coyote came to hear him sling, and he admired the bunch of shells. Crow told him he had made them out of his own eyes, and offered to make some for Coyote. Crow directed him to find an obsidian arrow point, and he cut out both his eyes. Crow flew away and mocked Coyote. The blind Coyote ran about helplessly and died (p. 151).
Three brothers who are herding sheep send their burro home for food. Their father orders bread and corn, put in the saddle bags and the burro starts on the return journey. On the way back he passes Coyote who, in order to secure the food for her children, pretends to be lame and asks Burro to help her to her near-by home. She takes almost all the food. Burro becomes suspicious, throws her off, and discovers her ruse. The three brothers whip Burro, and send him back to get Coyote, telling him to turn his arse to the hole. Burro does this and Coyote is caught when she tries to get the meat which she thinks she sees coming in at her door. The little coyotes think she has caught a buffalo, Burro carries her to the brothers who whip her, and send her home bleeding. The little coyotes think she is meat and eat her, regardless of her protests (p. 152).
The rest of the animal tales are of very mixed character.
There is a light-hearted tale of the little snipe and the horned toad who play hide and seek. When Toad hid, Snipe thought she had found a flint arrow head when she stumbled over him. When Snipe hid, Toad thought he had found an awl for his grandfather to make moccasins with (p. 153).
Spider and Dung Beetle were playing, and they bet their eyes on the game. Therefore Spider who won has four eyes and Beetle none (p. 153).
Rabbit is the clever animal.
Bear and Rabbit bet their lives upon being able to scare each other. Bear scared Rabbit, who was not frightened. When her turn came Rabbit removed her skin, and Bear ran, pursued by Rabbit, who called to her aid all the animals In the mountain that were hunting. Bear was killed. Rabbit took the claws. giving the meat and skin to the rest. She made a necklace of the claws, and went to get coals from the little bears, so that she should have a chance to exhibit her prize. The little beam were enraged, and set out to kill her. She escaped to the rocks. She fooled the bears Into bringing her cactus and sage brush for her winter stores by telling them that in this way they could reach her. They went home disgusted (p. 157).
Black Boy was planting cotton. Horned Toad, who did not know cotton, asked him what he was doing and was told, but did not seem to know what he was doing. He said that he would ask four times and, If he were not told, he would swallow him. Four times he asked, and four times received the same answer. Black Boy swallowed Toad. Then he heard a song which said "I am In your stomach, and eating your heart, liver, lungs, and stomach." He became frightened and decided that he would go to the river where he would find the hishtiani who could open him with his thunder knife. He continued to hear the song, so he hurried to carry out his plans. The hishtiani cut him open and released Toad, and then rubbed his body and closed the wound. Black Boy got up and went home (p. 156).
Two Santa Ana girls went to Haniashte to pick beans. The geese called to them in their own language to come over and pick white beans. The girls became frightened, and fearing that they might be dangerous they returned home and told their mother, who warned them not to go again (p. 158).
The geese were gathering shells in a field. Their leader urged them to hurry, and they had just flown off when the owner of the field came up. He only got Crane, who had just come up (p. 159).
"BEAR AND DEER"
This widespread story 2 occurs in Cochiti in an atypical form with an introduction of a bungling host story. 3 It has been recorded three
times: a, Boas, p. 160; b, Benedict, informant 1, p. 161; c, Benedict, informant 3 (omitted).
Deer invited Coyote to her house and killed her two children to feed her. She told Coyote to wash the bones in the river and the children were alive again. Coyote imitated her and killed her children to feed Deer. When her children did not come to life she pursued Deer and her fawns. A beaver carried Coyote across the water. She came to a buck, who gored her, a.
Version b differs slightly in the account of Coyote's pursuit. Beaver took Coyote across the river but played with her in the boat and had intercourse with her. Meantime the boat drifted two miles down the river and delayed Coyote. She overtook Deer on La Bajada Hill, but they had reached the buck, the father of the fawns, and he gored Coyote.
A deer, bear, lynx, lion, and wildcat came from Painted Cave. They decided that cats were needed so the lion was selected to get them. He was placed in the center of the circle while the others smoked around him. He sneezed twice, and a male and female cat came out from his nostrils. He declared that they were to be considered as his offspring and have his face, and that they were to be useful to people to protect them from mice. The rest of the animals were to live in the mountains, but these two cats were to live in Cochiti (p. 154).
Woodrat and Mouse challenged each other as to who had the larger store of grain. Woodrat arranged to show Mouse her stores which were very plentiful. The next night she was to inspect those of Mouse who lived with a cruel lion whose property Mouse considered as her own. As they were looking at the stores the cat discovered them. Mouse escaped, but Woodrat was too big and was caught and eaten (p. 155).
Other animal tales are grouped as fables, among the novelistic tales (pp. 135-142). These are stories that seem somewhat explicitly human moralistic tales, a rather unusual Indian development. (Notes, pp. 236-238.)
239:1 Coyote as a human character or a katcina who marries a virtuous girl who has scorned proposals of marriage (pp. 83, 84), or who is sent as a messenger to Our Mother (Dumarest 215), is not to be confused with the character of Coyote in the animal tales.
242:2 Journal of American Folklore, 42:307.
242:3 Notes, p. 239.