Native American Legends
Coyote's adventures and the Prairie Falcon's blindness
A Yauelmani Yokut Legend
They were living at Kamupau.
Coyote's son was the hummingbird. He gambled constantly and won
from everybody. Then the eagle, the chief, said: "Coyote's
son is bad. We will kill him."
They went to the owl, huhuwet, to have him make a fire which would
burn up the hummingbird. They made the jackrabbit take this fire
Next day the crow went to Coyote and said to him: "Let us
hunt." When they were hunting, he said to Coyote's son: "Shoot
that jackrabbit there!" When the boy was about to shoot, his
father told him: "Do not miss the little white mark on his
The boy shot and caused a great fire to start. Coyote called to
his son: "Come," and they ran. The fire followed them
rapidly, trying to overtake them. They went up on a bare white mountain
in the northeast.
After three days the fire stopped burning. It had burned the mountains.
Then Coyote said: "I will go back to see about our property.
You must stay here until I come back."
Then Coyote went back to Kamupau. He arrived there at night. The
crow looked and saw a fire in Coyote's house. Then he told the eagle:
"Coyote is alive still. We did not kill him."
In the morning they went to him. "Where have you been?"
Coyote said: "I was lost."
The eagle told him: "It is well. Everything is as it used
"Very well," said Coyote.
Now one day Coyote began to carry wood and lay it outside his house.
For three days he worked bringing wood. Then the people began to
say: "What is Coyote doing? He has been bringing wood for three
days. What is it for? He must be crazy."
Then Coyote went off. He traveled one night. He came to the moon.
The moon said to him: "What do you want, my elder brother?"
Coyote said: "I have come to see you."
"What for?" asked the moon.
Coyote said: "I will tell you what I want. I do not want you
to rise any more. Stay at home."
The moon said: "Very well. But you had better go to see my
brother." Then Coyote went to see his brother, the thunder.
"What do you want?" he asked.
Coyote said: "I will tell you."
"Well, tell me," said the thunder.
Coyote said: "My brother, I do not want you to appear. Stay
back where I want you to."
"Well, yes," said the thunder; "but you had better
go to our other brother. See what he says. He will do what is right."
Then Coyote went to see the sun. He went into the house. The sun
did not want to see him. He turned away from him. Coyote spoke to
him but he turned away as if he were angry. Three times Coyote spoke.
Then the sun turned and said: "What do you want?"
Coyote said: "I want you to stay here and not to travel."
"Very well," said the sun; "is that all you want?"
"Yes," said Coyote.
"Very well," said the sun, "go to see our brother
the night. He will tell you what he will do." Then Coyote went
to where the night was, far off in the last land.
When Coyote came there it was dark and he could not see. "Where
are you," he said. No one answered. "Where are you?"
he said. Still there was no answer. "Where are you?" he
asked. Then it began to be light. "What do you want?"
he was asked.
"I want you not to come about but to stay here," said
"Very well; is that all?" asked the night.
Then the night asked him: "When do you want me to do this?"
Coyote said: "I will shout three times. You will hear it."
"Well, shout loudly," said the night, and Coyote agreed.
Then he went back to Kamupau. He arrived at night. In the morning
he got up early, shouted, shouted again, and shouted again three
times. It remained night, foggy and drizzling, and the sun
did not rise. People sat up, became tired, lay down again,
Coyote lived well. He had much food and plenty of wood. So it was
for a month. Then the people said: "What is it? Where is the
"I do not know," they told each other.
"Go to see Coyote," the eagle said. "Perhaps he
has done it. Bring him these beads." Then the crow went. He
told Coyote: "The chief sends you these. He wants you to take
them. What have you done?"
Coyote said: "I do not know. I cannot do anything." The
crow went back. "What did he say?" the eagle asked him.
"He said he could do nothing."
Now none of the people had any wood. All around the houses there
was water. It had rained for three months and was dark constantly
and there was no sun nor moon. Then the crow came again to Coyote.
"What is the matter?" he said.
"There is no sun nor moon, there is nothing. The chief wants
you to make it better."
Coyote said: "I do not know how. Perhaps it is that they just
have not come of themselves."
The crow went back and said: "He says he does not know. He
will not help. I think he does not want to. He does not wish them
Coyote was still living well, with plenty of wood and plenty of
food. The people were in the water. The grass was high. It had rained
four months now. They were without food or fire. Two months more
they endured it. Then they went to Coyote again with a great quantity
of beads [lilna], three sacks full. The crow gave them to Coyote.
Coyote said: "What do you want? Food or wood?"
The crow said: "The chief wants the weather changed. What
is wrong with this world that there is no sun and no moon?"
Coyote told him: "I do not know. I will try." Then he
gave six sacks of beads to the eagle, double of what he had received.
So he outdid the eagle. He said: "I will see what I can do."
The crow took the six sacks of beads. When he gave them to the eagle,
this one asked him: "What did he say? The crow told him: "He
said: 'I will try.'" Then Coyote went to the moon.
For six months it had been night now, for one-half a year. The
moon said: "Well, you have come." Coyote said: "Yes,
I want you to travel again now."
"Very well," said the moon.
Then Coyote went to the thunder. "You have, come," he
"Yes. I want you to appear again."
Then he went to the sun, and told him also. "Travel again
now," and the sun agreed.
Then he went to the night and told him. "Come back to your
"Very well; when?"
Coyote said: "I will shout three times. You will hear me."
Then he went back. He shouted, and shouted, and shouted a third
time. Soon it cleared and became light. The sun came, and people
saw grass and clover, and ate. They thought much of Coyote because
he had brought this about.
Soon Coyote started out again. He said: "I am going to see
my son. I shall come back soon." The chief told him: "Very
well, but come back at once without staying. We want you here."
Coyote agreed and started. He went towards the white mountain where
his son was. He went up Kern river past Bakersfield to Gonoilkin,
a waterfall. There he sat and looked at the river. He saw many fish
and wanted to eat them. Then he said:
epash epash epash wanil wanil wanil
fish fish fish come come come
habak 1 tutsuat 2 tsenil 3
approach-the-fire 1 a-plant 2 ? 3
Soon little fish came to him. "You are no epash fish,"
he said and threw them back into the river. Then he called again.
Soon fish came that were a little larger, but he threw them back
also, saying: "You are no epash fish." He called again,
and this time they came as big as his forearm. He picked them up
and threw them back, telling them: "You are no epash fish."
Then he called once more and they came as big as his thigh. Then
he said: "Ya epash, ma epash, now they are epash fish, you
are epash fish." He kept on calling and more came. He filled
a large hole in the rock with them. Then he carried them to Wakhachau.
He said: "I think I will cook them here. No, I think I will
not. I will go down below. It is sandy here and not a good place."
He went down the river to Woilo, at Bakersfield.
He did not like it there and went on again down the river to Kuyo.
He did not like it there and went to Pokhalin tinliu. He did not
like it there either and went on to Tashlibunau, San Emidio. Now
he had carried them a long way. He said: "There is plenty of
wood here. I will cook." There was a big hole. In this he made
Then he thought: "If I put them entirely into this they will
burn." So he put their heads into the hole and covered them
up, leaving only the tails sticking out lying one next to the other
all around. So they cooked. He sat there. Then he said: "I
inside of me. I have good meat in my belly, I will mix my food.
I will drink and make it salty."
Then he went to a clear, bitter creek. Of that he drank. He drank
too much of it. He went back to where his fish were cooking. Soon
he was taken with colic. He defecated. Then he saw the bododiwat
and laughed. He said: "There is my good mixed meat." He
went back to where his fish were. Soon he defecated again. He laughed
again at seeing the beetles. "There is that good meat. I am
well now. I have put it outside of me. It will not be mixed any
Now he was weak. He could not walk or get up. He had defecated
too much. He could hardly sit up. He began to roll, and rolled like
a log into the river. There he stayed until he became well. Then
he got up and went where his fish were. He sat down. He said: "Well,
I will eat now." He dug up the earth, took the loose tails,
and threw them away, all around, here and there. He dug and dug,
but there was nothing else there. He said: "What is the matter?
Perhaps I have cooked them too much and they have gone down into
He dug away but found no fish. He said: "They must have cooked
so much that they went down further." He dug and dug until
he was tired. He tore up the rocks and pulled them out. He got no
fish, but he made a big hole.
Soon batlawu came
to Coyote. He asked: "What are you looking for?"
Coyote said: "I am looking for my fish. Who took them?"
Batlawu said: "I will tell you who took them."
Coyote said: "I will give you half if you tell me."
Batlawu told him: "You will see him soon. He is in the woods
up here." It was sokhsukh
who had stolen the fish. He had eaten them all. Coyote came to him.
He said: "Give me half." Sokhsukh shook his head and vomited
half the fish. Coyote ate that. Then he said: "Now I will call
you and kill you." He called: "Sokhsukh!" and sokhsukh
fell. Coyote tried to catch him but he escaped. Again he tried to
seize him but he escaped. Soon he flew up so high that Coyote could
not reach him any longer. He still followed him, looking up at him.
They traveled over half the land from the hills down to the lake
[Tulare lake]. Then sokhsukh disappeared. Coyote could not see him
any longer. Then he stopped. "It is too far to go back to the
hills," he said. "I will go to the lake. I can eat tules
and mud. It will be good." Then he went to the lake. He was
hungry. Then he ate tule [-roots]. He said: "It is well. Now
I will go to see what I can find." He went. He saw many ducks.
He said: "I will kill many of them. Then I shall be well off."
So he started to hunt them. The ducks were calling: "en,
en, en" Coyote listened, still thinking:
"I will kill them and eat them." He went on again. The
ducks continued to call: ["en, en, en"]
Coyote danced to the sound.
Suddenly he danced into the water and the ducks flew up. He went
on again until he found more ducks in the lake. He thought: "I
will try to kill them. If I am lucky I shall kill one or two of
them, and then I shall have something to eat." He approached
them. The ducks heard him coming and sang: "en,
en, en" Coyote began to dance again and
danced into the water. The ducks flew up.
Coyote said: "I cannot kill them. I will let it be."
Then he went on until he came north of Tulamni. There he saw a man
looking into the water. He was wa'k. He
had many small fish. Coyote went to him. The man asked him: "What
are you doing here?"
Coyote said: "Nothing. I came to see you. I want to eat of
the fish you have caught."
The man said: "Well, take some. There is what I have caught."
Coyote ate of them. He ate them raw, bones and all. Then he said:
"I will go on now."
The man asked him: "Where are you going?"
Coyote said: "I am going to see my son."
The man said: "You will see a man below here who will give
you more fish."
Coyote went on down and saw a man sitting. It was wakhat, the crane.
He reached him. "Hello!" he said.
"Hello! Where are you going?" asked the crane.
Coyote said: "I came to see you. I want to eat of the fish
you are catching."
"Very well," said the crane. Coyote ate. He ate them
raw, he was so hungry [or, greedy]. "Where are you going?"
asked the crane.
"I am going to see my son," said Coyote.
The crane told him: "You will see another man fishing."
Coyote went on. Then he saw many men fishing, batlawu and yimelan.
Coyote said: "Hello! Are you here?"
They said: "Yes."
He said: "I have come to eat of your fish."
They said: "Very well, there are many in there. Eat as many
as you want."
Then Coyote made a fire in the place and ate. He ate all he wanted.
When he had enough, he said: "Why do you not go over there?
There are many large fish there. I was there a long time. ago."
He was lying. They said: "Show us how to catch them."
Coyote said: "Very well. But show me how you make your noses
They told him: "We put tule into the hot ashes and then put
it on our noses and it makes them red."
Coyote said: "It is good. I wish you would do it to me."
"Very well," they said.
Then they put Coyote into the ashes and glowing tules. Three or
four of them held him down. He was burned in the fire and died.
"Throw him away. He is no good," they said, and then went
off. Coyote lay there.
Next day he woke up. He said: "I have been asleep. Where did
they go to?" Now his nose was white. The flesh had come off
and the bone showed. Then he came to those who had done this to
him. 'You have been asleep," they said.
"Yes, I slept a little," he said.
"How is it that you are red and I am white?"
"You burned it too much," they said; "you are redder
than we are." They had got a rock ready so that it looked like
a dakhdu fish. They said: "Here is a dakhdu.
You have a large month, ours are little. See if you can catch it."
Coyote said: "Well, I will go and see."
Then they went to the place to dive. Coyote jumped in, struck the
rock, and mashed his head, which was already only bones. He died
again. They left him and went off.
Next day Coyote got up and looked around. No one was there. He
went on. He said: "Well I think I must go to the place for
which I started." He went on and on but saw no one. Then he
came to where there were many men. They asked him: "Where have
He told them: "Oh, about the land."
They asked: "Where are you going?"
He said: "I am going to see my son."
They said: "It is well."
Then he told them: "I want to stay here for a time. I am tired."
The chief said: "Very well."
Next day they began to gamble. People there gambled all the time.
Now the prairie falcon had been gambling and had lost one of his
eyes. "I want to win your other eye," his opponent said.
The prairie falcon agreed and they played again. Then, when it was
nearly sunset the prairie falcon had lost both his eyes. Then he
took a sharp grass that grows on the mountains and cut out his eyes
and gave them to the man who had won them. Now he sat there. Then
his friend the crow came to him and said: "We had better go
into the house."
The prairie falcon said: "No, I will not go into the house."
The crow asked Min: "What are you going to do? Will you sit
here all night?"
He said: "Well, I am going north. I have a relative [nusus,
father's sister] there." In the middle of the night he started.
He had no eyes. The crow said: "I will go with you."
"Very well," he said. Then he sang a little as they started
- khoyu nan return - [= bad luck comes to?] me
- ama, nim huwut - then my gambling
- t'awe nan - beat me
- dokoi nim - gambling-implements my
So he sang and started. He went singing all the time. After a longtime
he said: "Are you hungry?"
The crow said: "Yes."
"Where is there a bush?"
"Here," said the crow.
The prairie falcon felt around until he touched the bush. Suddenly
he struck it and killed a rabbit. Then the crow ate. When he had
finished, the prairie falcon asked him: "Do you want water?"
The crow said: "Yes."
The prairie falcon told him: "Turn the other way around,"
and the crow turned. Soon the prairie falcon said to him: "Well,
now you can turn this way." The crow turned around and there
was a little spring there. The prairie falcon had made it for him.
Then he drank and they went on.
Now they came to a village. A man said: "What is the matter
with the prairie falcon? He is blind. A man holds him by the band
and leads him. It is the crow, his friend." The prairie falcon
sang: "Hiwèti, yona, hiwèti, naamtayo, lanîyo,
hilalèkiyo, tawatè" They stayed at that village
one night. Then they went on again.
Again the prairie falcon asked his companion: "Are you hungry?"
and when the crow said that he was, he did the same as before. He
struck a bush and killed a rabbit and the crow cooked it and ate
it. Then he asked him: "Do you want to drink?" and again
made a spring for him. From there they went on again.
They came to a village. The people said: "What is the matter
with the prairie falcon? He is blind and his friend the crow is
leading him by the hand." They asked him: "What is the
He said: "I have lost my eyes gambling."
The chief said: "It is too bad. Where are you going now?"
He said: "I am going to my relative."
The chief asked him: "Will you stay here?" He said: "Yes,
for a little while."
The chief said to him: "We would like you to sing."
"Very well," he said. Then he sang: "Yahilulumai,
yahimai lulmnai, sawawa kanama, taniyo, yapiwi piwimai, tawana tsiniyo,
hilalikiyo, tawati tawat." The prairie falcon and the crow
went on again from that place.
They went far. Again he asked the crow: "Are you hungry?"
and killed a rabbit and made water for him. He himself ate nothing.
He only used tobacco. That was his food. Then they came to a village.
[The same conversation is repeated]. Then he sang for them: "Hilamata,
hayaawiyu, lokoyowani, waatin, humuyu hile." It was at Kaweah
that he sang thus.
In the morning they went on again. The traveled far. Then they
came to Chowchilla. They approached a village. [The same dialogue
is repeated.] "Stay here and sing," they said and he agreed.
He sang: "Hosimi, hosiwimine, wanit wilima, lananama, hosimi."
That is the end. The prairie falcon stayed there.
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