Native American Legends
Coyote's Rabbit Chase
A Tewa Legend
Here is another version of the Cochiti "A
Contest For Wives."
Coyote got up early one morning feeling unusually full of pep.
He trotted along the ridge of a wash just as the sun was beginning
to appear on the distant horizon. as ran, he spotted a small, lumbering
figure moving slowly below him. He loped down to see who it was
and recognized Badger. "Greetings, brother!" he called.
Quietly Badger wished him a good morning.
Coyote had already hatched a plot to get the best of Badger, so
as the two paused to visit, Coyote said: "Brother, it's such
a fine day that we shouldn't waste it just wandering around. Why
don't we have a contest and a wager? Let's each spend the day hunting
rabbits, and at sunset we'll return to this spot with our catch.
Whoever kills the most rabbits gets to spend the night with the
other's wife. What do you say, brother Badger?"
At first Badger did not think this was such a good idea, but fearing
that Coyote would call him a coward, he accepted.As the two set
out in opposite directions, Coyote felt there was no way he could
lose. While he ran, he imagined how it would be to spend the night
with Badger Woman. After a while he spotted a jackrabbit nibbling
grass in a shady spot, and he took off after it, yelling "Yip!
Now, this jackrabbit had also just emerged from his hole, and he
too was full of pep on this morning. He led Coyote a merry day-long
chase up and down washes, over hills, and through forests. Coyote
was serenely confident, thinking, "This jackrabbit should be
all I need to beat old Badger, so slow, so cumbersome, so near-sighted.
I doubt whether he'd catch anything if he had a whole year."
In this fashion the day slowly waned.
Just before sunset Coyote finally wore the jackrabbit down and
caught it. He hurried back to the rendezvous with Badger feeling
quite sure of himself.
Meanwhile, Badger had hatched a plan of his own. Soon after their
parting, he hurried to a system of rabbit holes that he knew were
nearby, and at the first one he begin to dig with his powerful claws
In short order he caught several half-asleep rabbits. By the time
he made his way through the entire tunnel system, he had twelve
of them. These he laid out in a row above the tunnels as fast as
he caught them, so while Coyote was just getting into his jackrabbit
chase, Badger already had twelve rabbits.
Badger leisurely took several trip to carry his catch to the rendezvous,
and then he searched until he found a spot of shade to wait for
Coyote. He was surprised when Coyote appeared, worn out and dripping
with perspiration, carrying one jackrabbit. When Coyote spotted
Badger's catch, he realized that his trick had backfired. That night
Coyote had to remain outside his own den while Badger made endless
love to his wife. Throughout the night these love-making sessions
were marked with howls of pain from Coyote Woman. Coyote didn't
sleep at all that night, and the next morning his wife, very sore
from the exertions of the evening, said: "Old man! You think
you're so smart! You lose contests and I have to pay for your stupidity!"
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