Native American Legends
Badger carries Darkness: Coyote and Bobcat scratch each other
A White Mountain Apache Legend
Coyote was traveling along. Badger always used to carry darkness
on his back. Coyote met him. "My cross-cousin, what's in the
bag you carry?" he asked. He was hungry and he thought Badger
had food in his sack.
Because he thought there was food in there, Coyote wanted to stay
around where Badger was and maybe get something to eat. So the two
traveled on together for a way. Then Coyote was thinking he would
offer to carry the load and let Badger rest.
After quite a while Coyote said, "My cross-cousin, you look
tired. You have a heavy load there. Why don't you let me carry it
and you rest ?" "No, I'm not tired. I always travel this
way," Badger said.
After a while Coyote said again, "My cross-cousin, I think
you are tired. Let me carry the load for you just a little way and
you rest for a while." "All right, you carry this, my
bed, if you want. I know you are thinking it's something to eat,
but it's not. I carry this always. I'll let you have it, though."
"I'm just saying this because I want to carry it for you and
because you are giving out. I will carry it a little way,"
So Badger took his pack off and gave it to Coyote and they started
on again. After a while Coyote said to Badger, "I want to stop
to urinate behind this bush. You keep on ahead and don't bother
to wait for me." So Badger went on ahead.
As soon as Coyote got behind the bush he started to untie the pack,
as that was all he wanted to do in the first place. When he untied
the pack, it started to get dark. Darkness was all coming out. Coyote
got scared and hollered after Badger, "wa-'a, my cross-cousin,
I'm having a bad time here. It must be that you are packing bad
things with you. I can hardly see at all." Badger came back
and said, "I told you not to open my pack. Now you have done
it and started this. I already told you that there was no food in
it. You have done something bad." Then Badger spread his arms
and gathered in all the darkness and shoved it into the sack again,
tying the mouth tight. Coyote felt mad on account of being fooled
and said "You just carry badness."
Badger went on by himself. After a while he met Porcupine; The
two sat down and told stories about old times. Badger said, "I
was living when the sky fell out onto the earth," and he set
his pack down. "That's quite a while ago but I was living before
that," said Porcupine. "I was living when the sky and
the earth were rubbing together. Do you know about the time when
that happened ? Which of us is older now ?"
Later Coyote started on his way and met Bobcat. They stopped to
talk to each other. Then they said, "Let's scratch each other's
back in turn and see who has the sharpest claws." Bobcat said,
"I have no claws," He had claws all right, but they were
sheathed so you could not see them. "Let me see!" said
Coyote. Bobcat let him look and it seemed as if he had no claws
at all. Then Coyote let Bobcat look at his claws and there was far
more of them showing than of Bobcat's. "If I scratch your back
nothing will happen. It will just pull a little hair and skin off
you. But if you scratch my back, you will rip me right down,"
Bobcat said. "I want you to scratch me first," Bobcat
said. "No" Coyote said, "you come first." Finally
after a long argument Coyote thought it would be all right to do
it first, because he thought this was going to be an easy game for
him. He told Bobcat to sit up so he could scratch him from neck
to tail. When he was ready Coyote raked him down the back as hard
as he could and pulled a lot of fur and hide off Bobcat's back.
'"Eye'ya-, you hurt me, my cross-cousin, on my back,"
Bobcat said. Coyote just laughed at him and thought it was funny.
It really did not hurt Bobcat at all, but he made believe it did.
Now it was Bobcat's turn, and Coyote sat with his back to him. "My
finger nails are not long, you will just barely feel them,"
Bobcat said. But when he got ready, he unsheathed his claws and
gave Coyote a terrible rake with them, all down his back, taking
off hide and flesh. Coyote jumped up and yelled, "You have
killed me, my cross-cousin!"
Further on Skunk and Bear were sitting together, telling stories.
Bear said to Skunk, "You stink too much where your rear end
is." Skunk said, "You stink too much where your rear end
is." They argued about it for a while and then said, "Let's
see who is the worst one to stink. We will both try it and see which
is the best at this." Skunk said, "I think that I am the
best one. Come here and smell me." But Bear said, "When
I break wind it is the most powerful. I think I am best." They
kept on arguing, each saying he was the best one to make a bad smell.
"It will knock you over, the smell I make," each said.
"All right, you try it first!" said one "No, you
try it first!" Finally they agreed and Skunk said, "I
will put my head close to your buttocks so I will smell you well."
Bear started now and blew out hard, all he had, ka+, ka+, ka+ it
went and made a terrible smell. Skunk stuck his nose in the ground
and shook himself. He got out of the way as quick as he could. After
a while he recovered and came back, saying, "My cross-cousin,
I think you are the best. You smell the worst, but I will try all
the same to make a worse one." So Bear put his nose by Skunk's
buttocks. Now Skunk started to squirt and blow out at the same time.
It was terrible and when Bear smelt it he stuck his nose in the
ground. It was as if he had had his senses knocked out. It pretty
near killed him.
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