Native American Legends
The Prairie Falcon Loses
A Yauelmani Yokut Legend
At Kamupau, south of San Emidio, many people lived. The eagle was
the chief. Coyote was there too. He was a good talker and knew everything.
The prairie falcon was there. He was fierce. The large owl, hutulu,
and the small ground owl, tokowets, both of them medicine-men, were
there. The panther was there. He was a good hunter. The weasel,
the fox, and the magpie lived there too. These three were all gamblers.
Many others lived there.
Every day the hunters, the eagle, the prairie falcon and the panther,
went out for rabbits. Coyote brought wood to every house. He never
went hunting. When the hunters came back they called to Coyote:
"Tutunusut!" That was his name. They gave him the intestines
of the rabbits and he ate them. They also gave him the unborn rabbits
[wasis]. When Coyote received these he spoke over them and blew
on them and made them larger [sukhua, to make or create by blowing].
By the time he came to his house they were large rabbits. In this
way he lived.
The gamblers played every day at the gambling ground with the hoop
and poles. Now the small black-eared rabbit, tukuyun, came from
pitnani [the forks of Kern river, the country of the Shoshonean
Pitanisha or Tübatulabal]. Coyote said: "A stranger has
come." They went to him and brought him into the chief's house.
He was bringing food with him, pinenuts, and puhuk, and hapu. This
he gave to the eagle.
Next morning he went to gamble with the fox. The rabbit won everything.
He won also the weasel's beads. He won all that the magpie had.
He won everything from all the gamblers. Coyote was about as an
attendant. He helped them as they played and was paid for it. He
did not ask to receive much. He did not expect to be made rich.
In the evening they stopped playing because the rabbit had won
everything. Early in the morning they began again. Now the rabbit
gambled with the prairie falcon. The prairie falcon won everything
he had. He won all that the rabbit had won the day before as well
as the beads which the eagle had given him for the food which he
had brought. Then the rabbit told him: "I have nothing more."
But the prairie falcon said to him: "Play for your ear."
The rabbit agreed.
Then they played and the prairie falcon won his ear. He cut it
off. "Try with the other," he said, and the rabbit consented.
Then Coyote said to the rabbit: "Wait." Then he went off
to the wife of the prairie falcon, who was in the house making a
basket. He told her: "I want my gambling hoop. It is in the
The woman said: "I cannot find it."
Coyote went there and found it. Then he cohabited with the woman.
Then the prairie falcon began to lose. The rabbit won everything
back again. He won everything that he had lost. He won everything
that the prairie falcon had. Then the prairie falcon thought: "Tonight
I must go away and die. I have nothing left." That night he
went off toward the coast.
In the morning he was in the hills. He saw smoke. He went to the
house there. An old woman and a girl were there. They took him in.
The old woman got up and gave him acorn soup and fish to eat. Then
the prairie falcon was married again. He married that girl. At night
two boys came fighting. They were the girl's brothers. As they fought
outside the house, the old woman went out and told them: "Be
quiet. Your brother-in-law is inside. It is the prairie falcon."
They laughed and fought; then they came in and ate. Then the old
woman told them to go outside again. They went out.
Early in the morning they went to the ocean to fish. The prairie
falcon went out into the brush and set snares for rabbits. He filled
two sacks with rabbits and came home while it was still morning.
At night the two boys came again and ate of the rabbits. They said:
"Our brother-in-law has killed game. We will eat it. He is
a good hunter. In the morning we will take him with us to catch
fish." Then the girl said: "Are you going fishing in the
morning?" The prairie falcon said: "Yes, I will go."
In the morning they went. They went in a boat out on the ocean.
They caught fish and filled the boat. Then the wind blew the boat
out to sea. The two boys [by sukhua, magic by blowing] then created
a string with which they pulled the boat back to land.
Next day the prairie falcon went fishing again with his brothers-in-law.
They caught many fish and filled the boat. Now the wind came and
blew them out to sea again. Then the prairie falcon fell into the
water and drowned. The two boys fought in the boat because their
brother-in-law was dead. When they came to land they fought again.
Then they went home.
Now Coyote, another coyote who was the prairie falcon's mother's
brother, knew that he was dead. He knew it because he had supernatural
power [tipni]. He was in the house with his wife. When the prairie
falcon died he felt bad. His heart came out of his mouth, he felt
so sorry. He would have died, but he caught his heart as it was
in the air and put it back into his month.
Then he went to where the prairie falcon's new wife was. "Where
is the prairie falcon?' he asked the old woman. Then the two boys
took him where the prairie falcon bad died. "Where did he fall
in?" Coyote asked. "Here," they said. Then he took
tobacco and dived far down into the water.
He came to seven trails. He could not tell which way to go. Then
he took his tobacco and by means of it chose one trail. He followed
this and came to a large communal house [gawi]. There he saw a man
with his knees burning. "You are burning," he said. He
did riot answer. Coyote took tobacco, spoke over it, and made the
person able to talk again. The prairie falcon was in the house.
Only his feathers were left. Now he sang in the Tokye [Chumash]
language: "Kapikh, tata, shakhshaniwash, salialama. You came,
my uncle. You will die."
Then Coyote sang also. He sang: "I am dead already. You know
it." He meant that he should have died when he had jumped into
the water, and therefore could not really die. Then he took the
prairie falcon. No one was there except the old man whose knees
were being burned for wood. So Coyote took the prairie falcon back
with him. Then he put blue rock-paint on him as medicine and made
him well again. This was through his supernatural power. He took
a small sharp grass and stuck him in the anus. Then the prairie
falcon got up.
The girl, the old woman, and the two boys were spiders of a species
called ulumush or kolokilwi. The prairie falcon's uncle, Coyote,
came from Nohomo, southwest of San Emidio.
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