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Coyote and The Skukula'na Women

A Pen D'Oreille Legend

Coyote was traveling, and went up Bitter-Root River. There he saw a number of women dancing among tall grass on the bank. He approached, crossing a ridge. He heard them singing, "He goes up the ridge."

He said, "They have noticed me. They mean me."

When he went down over the ridge, they sang, "He goes down the ridge."

Coyote thought, "They refer to me."

He went down and joined the women. They took him by each hand, and danced with him towards the river. They said, "We are going into the water."

Coyote said, "Let me go. My clothes will get wet. I will take them off."

They answered, "You need not mind. It does not matter about clothes in the other world where you are going."

They took him into the water, and dragged him up and down until he was drowned. They left his body on the bank; and Fox came along, and brought him to life by jumping over him.

Coyote said, "I shall get even with these women."

He went back, and found them dancing in the same place. He set fire to the grass all around them, and they ran together to get away from the fire. When they saw that it would reach them, they rushed through and ran for the river. As they passed through the fire, they were scorched.

Coyote transformed them, saying, "You shall be Skukula'na, and people shall put you into the fire and eat you." For this reason these shell fish appear as if burned on one side.

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