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Coyote in the Buffalo Country

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

Just before Coyote reached the Buffalo country, he came to an old buffalo-Bull lying down. He had been gored and torn by another buffalo-Bull, and was badly crippled. Coyote walked around Buffalo and looked him over. Then Coyote took off his breech-cloth and urinated in Buffalo's face. So Buffalo said to Coyote, "Coyote, you have treated me shamefully, although you see that I am badly hurt. I had ten wives, but another bull took them from me and crippled me thus."

Now, this Buffalo that talked to Coyote was very old, and his horns were dull and short. Coyote asked Buffalo where the other one was that had taken the ten wives, and Buffalo replied that he ranged close by. Then Coyote said, "I will make you a set of new horns; I will bathe you and cure you; and when you get well, you can recover your wives. But if I cure you, and you recover the wives, I want one of them to take home with me."

Buffalo agreed to give him one. So Coyote went to a small creek and dug a bathing-hole in the ground, and filled it with water. Then he heated a pile of stones and put them into the water. Buffalo bathed in this hot water for five days, and at the end of these five days he was entirely well. Then Buffalo lay down, and Coyote went to work on his horns. With his flint knife he scraped and pointed the horns; and when they were sharp, he put rattlesnake-poison on them. Then they went on to meet the others.

Now, when Coyote and Buffalo came in sight of the others, the young bull that had defeated the old one recognized the enemy whose wives he had stolen, but he did not see Coyote. He met old Buffalo, and tried to force him back; but after they had fought for a time, and had begun to grow tired, the older one caught the other in the flank, and tore a great hole that let the entrails out. The young bull died, and the old one gathered up his old wives as well as those of his victim.

Coyote devoured as much of the dead Buffalo's flesh as he could hold; then he said, "Well, I have had enough now; give me one of the Buffalo-Cows for a wife, and I will go home." So Coyote picked out one to take with him; and Buffalo told Coyote, "This Buffalo-Cow must go with you for ten full days before you dare to touch her." Coyote agreed to wait ten days, and they started.

Coyote took the lead, and the cow followed him. When night came, they would sleep at a distance from each other. The sixth day Buffalo-Cow could talk to Coyote a little, and on the eighth day the Buffalo-Cow turned into a Coyote woman. After this had happened, Coyote could hardly keep his vow. The tenth day she slept on the opposite side of the fire, and Coyote could not sleep. When it was nearly daylight, Coyote crept over to where she was and touched her. As soon as he did this, she jumped up as a buffalo-cow again, and rushed out. Coyote sat by the fire and howled, while Buffalo-Cow went back to the herd.

Then Coyote decided he would go back and get her. He thought he would know better next time. When he arrived at the Buffalo camp, Coyote told Buffalo-Bull that he had had a nightmare that last night, and had frightened away his new wife. Then Buffalo Bull told Coyote, "She will not go a second time; now you will have to go home alone."

Coyote said, "This country will always be this way. When a man starts back from here with a new wife, he will always lose her before he gets home."

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