Native American Legends
Coyote gets rich off the white men
A White Mountain Apache Legend
Once when Coyote was visiting various camps, he and Bobcat heard
about a white man who was making some whiskey. They went together
to the man's house and managed to steal some, and after they had
run a short distance with it, they stopped to drink.
Then Coyote said, "My cousin, I feel so good, I'd like to
"No, we're still close to those white men," Bobcat said.
"I won't holler loud, cousin," Coyote said. They kept
arguing and drinking. Finally Bobcat said, "All right then,
Coyote intended to holler softly, but before he knew it he got
carried away and was hollering as loud as he could. Now the white
men heard the noise and headed right toward him. Bobcat had enough
whiskey in him to feel good, but Coyote was really drunk. When the
white men surrounded them, Bobcat got up and sailed over the nearest
man with one jump. In a second jump he leaped over all the rest
and got away. So they arrested Coyote and took him in chains to
the town jail.
Later on, Bobcat used to visit Coyote from time to time, and once
they arrested Bobcat and had them both locked up for quite a while.
One day the two prisoners watched some white men breaking horses
in front of the jail. There was one horse that no one could get
close to, and Coyote boasted, "I could saddle that horse right
away." The prison guard told the men what Coyote had said,
and they decided to let him out and see what he could do.
Now Coyote had horse power, and when he had used it with the horse,
it wasn't wild any more. He got on and rode it around and then thought
he would have some fun. The horse balked, and though he kicked it
gently with his heel, it wouldn't move. Coyote told the white people
to put on a fancy saddle. They bought out a brand new one with taps
and saddle bags and everything on it, just as he wanted. He put
it on the animal, remounted and kicked it, but gently, so it wouldn't
"This horse is thinking about a nice white bridle and bits
and lines, all covered with silver," said Coyote. Actually
the horse was ready to go, but Coyote kept holding him in. The men
brought a fine bridle and put it on the horse. Then Coyote dismounted
the horse and said, "I want you to fill the saddle bags with
crackers and cheese; that's what the horse wants. Also, I have to
wear a good white shirt and vest, and a big show hat, and a pair
of white-handled pistols in a belt. That's what the horse likes.
And good silver spurs: the horse wants these also." They brought
all the finery for Coyote and filled the saddle bags.
Now Coyote got on the horse. Ahead by the gate were some American
soldiers. He kicked the horse hard and started for the soldiers
at a gallop, making it look as if the horse were running away with
him. The soldiers moved back, and he and the horse tore through
the gate and disappeared. Later Coyote sat down by a spring under
a walnut tree, thinking about the soldiers that he knew were after
him. He swept the ground clean under the tree and strung his money
up on its branches. Pretty soon the soldiers came along, and Coyote
said, "I'm going to tell you about this tree. Money grows on
it and I want to sell it. Want to buy?" The soldiers were interested,
and Coyote told them, "It takes a day for the money to grow
and ripen. Today's crop is mine, but tomorrow it's all yours. I'll
sell you this fine tree for all your pack mules."
Coyote was always thinking about eating, and he hoped the packs
held food. The soldiers agreed to the terms, and Coyote got a big
rock and threw it against the trunk. Most of the money fell to the
ground. "See, it only ripens at noon," he said. "You
have to hit it just at noon." He whacked the tree again, and
the rest of the money dropped out. Now it was all on the ground,
and the white men helped him pick it up and put it in sacks. They
turned all their pack mules over, and he started off.
Coyote traveled for the rest of the day and all night, until he
was in another country. Meanwhile the soldiers camped under the
walnut tree waiting for noon. Then the officer told the soldiers
to hit the tree, and they pounded it hard. When no money fell out,
the officer ordered it chopped down, cut into lengths, and split
up, in case the money was inside. No matter what they did, they
couldn't find even five cents. That night one of Coyote's mules
got hungry and started to bray. Irritated at the noise, he killed
every mule that brayed, until at last he had killed them all. So
when he came to a white man's house, he bought a burro from him.
Now Coyote was always thinking about how he could swindle someone,
and the burro gave him another idea. Returning to his old home in
the mountain, he put a lot of money up the burro's rear end, then
kicked the animal in the belly so that it expelled all the money.
He tried it again, and it worked as before. "This burro is
going to make me lots of money," he thought. Coyote put his
money in the burro's rear end and started for town, where he went
to the big man in charge. "Look at this wonderful burro! His
excrement is money, and it comes out of him every day." Coyote
always talked like a Chiricahua.
"Let's see him do it," the head man said. "All right,
see for yourself. The first money that comes out is mine, but after
that it's all yours." Coyote started kicking the burro in the
belly, and his money fell out. He gathered it up. "Now it's
yours," he said. "Tomorrow at the same time, he'll do
it again." They paid him lots of money, and he went on his
way. On the following day when the time came, the white men brought
the burro out and kicked him. He merely broke wind. They kicked
him all day till evening, the said, "We might just as well
kill this burro and look inside him." So they cut him open,
but there wasn't a sign of money inside.
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