Native American Legends
Coyote, Wren, and Grouse
A Pen D'Oreille Legend
Once Coyote met Wren (tseska'n), and laughed at his small bow and
He said, "You can't shoot far with those."
Wren answered, "Yes, I can shoot far. If you go to that distant
ridge, I will shoot you while you are there."
Coyote laughed, and said, "That ridge is so far away that
we can hardly see it."
Soon afterwards Coyote was walking along this ridge, and Fox was
following him. He had forgotten about his talk with Wren. Presently
he heard something coming, and Wren's arrow struck him in the heart.
He gave two jumps and fell down dead. Fox pulled out the arrow,
and jumped over Coyote, who came to life, and said, "I must
have slept a long time."
Fox said, "You were not sleeping, you were dead. Wren's arrow
struck your heart. Why do you fool with Wren? You know he can shoot
better than any one." Coyote took the arrow from Fox, and said,
" I shall get even with him."
Some time after this, Coyote met Wren, and proposed to gamble with
him. He said, "I have an arrow which looks like yours. Now
you have a chance to win it back." They played a game of throwing
arrows. Coyote beat Wren every time, and won all his arrows. Then
he won his bow, and later all his beautiful clothes. Wren was left
practically naked. Coyote went off singing, "Alpano'n e Kalispe'"
(" I won from the Kalispel "). Wren followed him at some
Coyote passed by the lodge of Willow-Grouse, who had ten young
children. Their parents were off in the hills. Coyote asked the
children, "Who is your father?"
They answered, "Toxto'xtu'su"' (Flying-Past-Head).
He laughed, and said, "No, that cannot be his name."
He asked the name of their mother; and they answered, Toxto'xtusêpu'scEn"
He laughed, saying, "No, that cannot be her name." He
went into the lodge and dug a small hole near the fire. Then he
said to the children, "Carry those red bearberries into the
hole, and watch me cook them for you." They did so, and crowded
around the edge to watch him. He pushed them into the hole, and
threw earth and hot ashes on top of them. When they were cooked,
he went on.
Their parents came home, and, finding their children dead, they
cried. Wren came along, and asked them why they cried. They told
Wren said, "I have a grudge against Coyote, too. I want my
things which he won from me. If you can get them back for me, I
will restore your children to life."
Coyote was then passing over a high ridge, close to a steep cliff.
Grouse made a detour, and hid ahead of him on the upper side. When
Coyote was opposite them, one flew out suddenly at his head. He
bent back over the cliff to avoid it. Then the other flew between
his legs. He lost his balance and fell over the cliff. Grouse hastened,
and plucked him as he was falling. They plucked away his bow and
arrows and quiver and clothes, and gave them back to Wren, who then
revived the Grouse children. Coyote was killed by the fall; but
Fox found him, and brought him back to life by jumping over him.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends