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Coyote's Rabbit Chase

A Tewa Legend

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! Yip! 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 and muscles.

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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