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Native American Legends

Coyote and the Snake Monster

A Pen D'Oreille Legend

There was a huge rattlesnake-monster which occupied the Jocko valley. Its tail was at S.nlpo' (Come-Out or Emerge), a place near Evero; and its mouth, at Skul'lo', near Ravalli. Its stomach was near Jocko. It swallowed people without their knowing it. They walked into its mouth, and passed on to its stomach, thinking they were going through a valley, and not knowing that they were inside a monster. When they reached the stomach, they became sick, and before long died.

Coyote was traveling with Fox, and reached that district. The people told him of the monster, and he said he would go and kill it. Coyote's cousin Fox, who was his traveling companion, advised him not to go, because he would be killed. Coyote, however, started; and when near the monster's head, he cut two long tamarack poles, and carried them along on his shoulder. He thought, "I will use these in case he tries to close his mouth on me." He passed through the monster's mouth without knowing it. When he reached a place near Arlee, he saw a number of people in all stages of dying. He asked them what they were doing there; and they answered, "The monster has killed us." He said, "Where is he? I am looking for him. I don't see anything here to kill you." They answered, "You have been swallowed. You are in its stomach now." Then he placed his poles upright. Therefore two tamaracks grow at this place today, not very far from there he saw the monster's heart hanging down.

Coyote was wearing a sharp arrow-stone fastened upright on his head. He began to dance; and whenever he jumped up, the dagger pierced the heart. Thus he kept on dancing until he had killed the monster. Its heart may still be seen in the shape of Butte, near Jocko. Coyote supported its mouth so that it could not close, and opened its tail. The cut he made may be seen as a canyon near Evero. Thus Coyote made it possible for people to pass through without hindrance or harm. When he had finished, the valley was as we see it today.

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