Native American Legends
Coyote creates Human Beings
A Nez Perce Legend
One day, long before there were any people on the Earth, a monster
came down from the North. He was a huge monster and he ate everything
in sight. He ate all the little animals, the chipmunks and the raccoons
and the mice, and all the big animals. He ate the deer and the elk
and even the mountain lion.
Coyote couldn't find any of his friends any more and this made
him very mad. He decided the time had come to stop the monster.
Coyote went across the Snake river and tied himself to the highest
peak in the Wallowa Mountains. Then he called out to the monster
on the other side of the river. He challenged the monster to try
and eat him.
The monster charged across the river and up into the mountains.
He tried as hard as he could to suck Coyote off the mountain with
his breath but it was no use. Coyote's rope was too strong.
This frightened the monster. He decided to make friends with Coyote
and he invited coyote to come and stay with him for awhile.
One day Coyote told the monster he would like to see all of the
animals in the monster's belly. The monster agreed and let Coyote
When he went inside, Coyote saw that all the animals were safe.
He told them to get ready to escape and set about his work. With
his fire starter he built a huge fire in the monster's stomach.
Then he took his knife and cut the monster's heart down. The monster
died a great death and all the animals escaped. Coyote was the last
Coyote said that in honor of the event he was gong to create a
new animal, a human being. Coyote cut the monster up in pieces and
flung the pieces to the four winds. Where each piece landed, some
in the North, some to the South, others to the East and West, in
valleys and canyons and along the rivers, a tribe was born. It was
in this way that all the tribes came to be.
When he was finished, Coyote's friend, Fox said that no tribe had
been created on the spot where they stood. Coyote was sorry he had
no more parts, but then he had an ides. He washed the blood from
his hands with water and sprinkled the drops on the ground.
Coyote said, "Here on this ground I make the Nez Perce. They
will be few in number, but they will be strong and pure." And
this is how the human beings came to be.
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