Native American Legends
Coyote, The Hawk, and The Condor
A Gashowu Yokut Legend
There was a woman whom no one was able to marry, except finally
Coyote. He overcame her. She was wachwach, a handsome species of
hawk. She lived alone. The wolf and Coyote and their families lived
in one place with other people.
Many men went out to hunt deer but never found any. The wild cat
and the weasel and others went. The magpie was "beniti."
He could see from inside his house and know everything. He saw that
the hawk-woman had supernatural power. She was able to kill a deer
and immediately eat it entirely, leaving only the skin.
Then the wolf and Coyote found the woman. She gave them an abundance
of acorn mush. She also cooked dried deer meat for them and gave
it to them to take home. She said to them: "Tell no one, but
when you want more for your children, come and get it."
The wolf and Coyote arrived at night. Their poor little children
had to eat the meat they brought slowly, so that no one would hear
them. Nevertheless the magpie knew it. Then the people also could
smell the meat.
Knowing that the two brothers had meat, they watched at night.
Then they saw them return and the old woman get up, take the meat,
cook it, and all of them eat. Then the watchers reported to the
others: "They are killing deer but give none of the meat away."
The eagle was the chief. The dove was his messenger [winatum].
Thinking he would ask advice of the magpie, the eagle sent the dove
to him. The magpie only laughed at the messenger. "Yes, Coyote
and the wolf have found a supernatural woman. She lives beyond this
hill. She has more dried meat than she can use. She keeps the deer
inside the hill under ground. That is where she gets the meat."
Then all the people went to that place, to the woman, so that it
became necessary for her to give them meat.
When Coyote and the wolf arrived there in the evening, they found
all the people there already. The weasel, the hawk called wakhwukh,
and others had dressed themselves finely in order to marry her,
but she would not have it. Finally all of them said: "Let us
They went, but Coyote lay there, apparently sick with fever and
chills, and unable to walk.
The woman said: "You go too."
Coyote told her: "I am sick. I cannot. Perhaps later on I
will be able."
Then the woman made a fire inside the house. Coyote thought how
he might enter it. He, too, had supernatural power. Then he wanted
the wind to blow the house to pieces. He said: "Pu!" and
a wind storm came. It began to tear the thatching from the house.
The woman ran about trying to mend it but could not. Then Coyote
said: "Give me the binding and I will tie it." She did
not like to touch him, but to save her house she handed it to him.
Now it was dark and rained. Coyote said: "I cannot sleep here.
Let me sleep inside in the corner by the door." But she would
not let him. He said: "I will die. If you wish me to freeze
to death let me lie here." Then she allowed him to come in,
and he lay near the door, shivering. She knew what he wanted.
He was thinking: "I want to sleep with her." Then she
said: "No, you cannot. You are no good." Coyote laughed.
"How does she know what I think?" he thought. "I
heard it," she said.
Coyote lay there and looked over towards her. "What do you
want now?" she asked. Then Coyote began to think of sexual
intercourse with her. She did not like that. She was stronger than
he and overcame him. He could not do anything to her. He went to
sleep where he lay.
Then at last the woman began to think of him. At once Coyote knew
it in his sleep. He woke up and said: "You want mine! I have
a good one!" She too was desirous now and let him lie with
her. But though she allowed him to embrace her she would not let
him come nearer. She wanted once more to try to overcome him.
She went out as if to urinate, took a rattles snake, put it into
herself, and returned. Then she spread herself and invited him.
He knew what she had done. Also going out to urinate, he by his
supernatural power obtained a stick of hard wood (takha) from the
cast. Putting it on himself, he returned to the woman. He approached
the stick, the rattlesnake bit it, lost its teeth, and was harmless.
Coyote said: "Ah! Now throw yours away and I will throw mine."
She did so and he married her.
Coyote had one son from this woman, wech, the condor, who was to
become a great gambler. At night they put the baby into water. After
three days he could walk. Soon he was able to gamble. Then he was
a man. Coyote was rich, constantly making beads from bone and other
materials, and encouraged his son to gamble. Then the boy went north.
Then he saw a large owl, hihina, and wishing to kill him, aimed
at him. The owl, who was a doctor, was angry and flew up into a
hollow tree. There he began to sing:
Hu hu hu 1 witcailac 2 min 3 put-onun 4
Hu hu hu 1, condor becomes 2 your 3 son 4.
As he sang this, the young man who had been so handsome began to
have feathers all over his body. His female relatives who were with
him tried to hold him, but they could not, and he turned into a
They said to Coyote: "Kill the owl before he changes him completely!"
But Coyote only cried and did nothing. Now the young man Was entirely
a condor. He shook himself, rose, and flew off. The women followed,
but he flew away from them. Coyote returned. His wife knew what
had happened. Then she took a rattlesnake once more. This time he
did not know it, was bitten, and died.
Now the condor lived above and came down to earth to kill people
for food. He thought of his mother, went to her, and brought her
up with him. He tried to make her, too, eat people, but she would
not do so. He brought two little boys and a little girl. These he
kept as pets. He called them his dogs. As he was about to go off
again he told his mother: "Feed them well. When I return I
will eat them."
When he was gone the woman said to the children: ''He will kill
us all. He has nearly exterminated the people now. When he has finished
them he will go hither up in the sky. Then he will come down and
eat us. When he comes back you must shoot him." She gave the
two boys bows and arrows.
Then the condor came back from the earth below and went to drink.
He drank half a day. The two boys shot at him, one from each side.
For half a day they shot as fast as they could, beginning as soon
as he started to drink. The little girl kept dragging the arrows
back to them and they shot them again and again. The condor never
gave notice, but continued to drink.
Now the half day was nearly over. The woman had made a hole. She
put the children in, went in herself, and covered the hole. Then
the condor stopped drinking. Now he began to feel something. Leaving
the dead bodies he had brought with him, he started upward. His
mother said: "If he flies straight, he will reach the place
above, and it will be the end of us. But if he flies to the side
and zigzags and falls, he will be killed."
He flew straight up. He was already nearly out of sight. Then suddenly
he shot to one side, zigzagged, dropped, struck, and was dead. They
burned him. Then his eyes burst and flew out and were lost in the
brush. If they had been able to find the eyes and put them back
in the fire there would have been no condors in the world.
Then the woman and the little girl went down from the sky on a
rope of down feathers, going through the hole in the sky through
which the condor used to pass. The two boys went southward in the
sky until they came to where the sky and the earth meet. There they
descended to the earth. Then they came to people without mouths,
who neither talked nor ate. They killed deer, roasted them, smelled
of the meat, and threw it out-doors. In the same way they only smelled
of their acorn mush. The two boys came to them, entered the house,
took hold of the meat that was cooking, and began to eat. The people
there made a protesting gesture, meaning. "Do not. It will
come out from you," again indicating by a gesture. Nevertheless
the boys ate. Then they asked the chief: "Have you a tongue
inside?" He shook his head. "Have you teeth?" Again
he shook his head. Then they offered to try to cut open a mouth
for one of them so that he would be like themselves and could eat.
It was agreed and the two boys took obsidian and cut a mouth for
one of those people. Soon the man could eat and talk.
Then he said:
T-ipînii 1 panîii 2 tcicîii 3 nah'èii 4 lukînii 5 bidîkii 6.
Supernatural-ones 1 arrived 2, cut 3, ate 4, belly filled 5, defecated 6,
He spoke thus because he could not talk yet correctly. If he had spoken right he would have said:
T-ipni panac tcicîni nah'ac lokònoc
Then this man cut mouths for others, and they cut still others, mid so they did to each other until all could eat and talk. The two boys returned home.
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