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Native American Legends

The origin of Death

A Pohonichi Miwok Legend

When the first person died Coyote was south of him, the meadow-lark to the north. Now the dead person began to stink. The meadow-lark smelled it. He did not like it. Coyote said: "I think I will make him get up."

The meadow-lark said: "No, do not. There will be too many. They will become so many that they will eat each other."

Coyote said: "That is nothing. I do not like people to die."

But the meadow-lark told him: "No, it is not well to have too many. There will be others instead of those that die. A man will have many children. The old people will die but the young will live."

Then Coyote said nothing more. So from that time on people have always died. Coyote said: "It will be best to put them into the fire." And so the dead were burned.

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