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Native American Legends

The Tick and the Deer

A Sanpoils Legend

Coyote lived in a tent alone. There was no prospect of food: everything was covered with snow. He stirred up his fire and lay down near it. He wanted to sleep, but was too hungry. He wished for some bones with sinew. Just then he heard a noise. He went to the door and looked out. He found a bag of bones in front of the tent. He took them in and made some soup. They lasted for several days. Then he was hungry again.

He made another wish. He wanted deer-ham with chunks of meat. He heard another thump. He found another bag of bones. He thought he could have plenty to eat by making a wish. He wished for a bag of fat, and it came also. He puzzled over it. He thought that some one must bring this food.

Near him lived a queer old wizard, -- disfigured, with many arms on his body. He knew of Coyote's wish, and carried the food to him. Coyote decided to watch and see who came. The next time when he wished, he stood close by the door, looked out, and saw the wizard disappearing from sight. He followed him to the top of the hill.

There he saw a tent, and around it a platform for drying meat. Coyote went near, and found an old man warming his back by the fire. He offered to carry water for him if he should be allowed to live there. Although he was not allowed to live with the old man, he was given a tent close by. After three days he thought that if he should kill the old man, all the provisions would be his. Therefore next morning he followed him to a pile of rocks, and pounded him flat. He threw the body into sagebrush. Then he went back to the tent. He was astonished to see all the bones jump up and run away. The Old man had revived, and had resuscitated the deer-bones. As the last deer ran away, the old man caught its tail and hung on. Coyote turned him into a wood-tick, and said that in the spring of the year it would live on deer.

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