Katherine Chandler.

In the reign of Coyote, folkflore from the Pacific coast online

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the night before Christmas as you do, nor did they
have a Christmas tree as Dorothy does. They did
not even receive any presents on Christmas. That
day to them was La Fiesta del Scnor, the " Feast
of the Master"; and they spent it in rejoicing that
Christ had given himself as a gift to the world.
But during the Christmastide there came a day


when they did receive presents. This was on Little
Christmas, the " Feast of the Epiphany," or January
the sixth. This feast, you know, is held in honor
of the day on which the Three Wise Kings brought
their gifts to the Infant Jesus in Bethlehem.

The evening before Little Christmas the Cali-
fornian children placed their shoes outside the door
or window, and the Three Wise Kings always left
something in them. It was not very much that the
Kings left just some funny little twirled candies
with caraway seeds in them and some odd wooden
toys. Juanita's doll would not seem pretty to you
to-day, Mabel, but she loved it just as dearly as you
do your Arabella from Paris, and she was just as
horrified at the idea of turning it into a man-of-tar
as you were when Joe wanted to throw Arabella
into the pond to teach Ponto to swim for her.


NE day the ranch was excited over a
fine deer that a herder had brought in.
In the late afternoon the children visited
the blacksmith shop.
In talking over the way deer lose their lives,
Wantasson said, " It has always been that way
ever since the day Old Grizzly killed Old Deer."

" When was that, Wantasson ? Won't you tell
us about it ? "

Never reluctant to rest, Wantasson sat down in
the doorway and began the story.

In the days of the ancients Old Deer and Old
Grizzly were good friends and lived together in one
lodge. They each had two children. Every morn-
ing they took their baskets and went out together
to dig roots.



Before leaving home Old Grizzly always said to
her cubs, " Do not skip down from the house, or
your hearts will get loose in you. Do not jump
over logs, or tree sticks will run into you. Do not
dive into the water, or it will rise and smother you."

The cubs always answered, " We will obey our
mother's orders."

Old Deer never warned her children of anything.
She just said, "Good-by, children."

One morning, while they were gathering roots,
Old Deer filled her basket first. Old Grizzly had
been eating as she dug. Old Deer said, " I 'm ready
to go home now " ; and started on. Old Grizzly
grumbled, but she went home with Old Deer, and
they each gave their roots to their children.

The next morning Old Grizzly again ate the
roots, instead of putting them into her basket. Old
Deer worked steadily and soon had her basket full.
When she started to go home, Old Grizzly in jealous
anger sprang upon her neck and killed her. She
hung Old Deer's body in a tree. Then she put into
her own basket the roots Old Deer had gathered
and returned home.

When she reached the lodge, she gave some
roots to her own cubs and some to Old Deer's
children. As the younger Deer child smelled the
roots, he cried, " That smells like our mother."


But the older Deer child nudged him and whispered,
" Be silent. Don't say that."

They put away the roots and lay awake all night
watching for their mother.

In the morning Old Grizzly said to the young
deer : " I must go and search for your mother. I
don't see why she has not come back. She must
have made a fire in the woods and have fallen asleep
there." Then after telling her own children what
they must not do while she was away, she set out
into the woods.

When she was out of sight, the young deer said
to the cubs, " Shall we play skipping down from
the house ?"

" Oh, no," the cubs answered, " our mother told
us not to skip down from the house. It will make
our hearts loose in us."

Then the young deer said, " Let 's jump over

" Oh, no," the cubs answered, " our mother made
us promise not to jump over logs, for the tree
sticks will run into our legs."

" If you will not jump," said the young deer,
"let 's play plunging into the water."

"Oh, no," answered the cubs, "our mother told
us not to dive into the water. It will rise up and
smother us."


" Well, then," said the young deer, " let 's play
' Smoke Out.' "

" Our mother has not told us about that. By
and by we will play it."

The young deer put' rotten wood on the lodge
fire. Then they said to the cubs: " We will go into
the lodge. You must put the cover on, and when
we call out, take it off."

"All right," said the cubs, "go in."

The young deer went in, and the cubs covered
the smoke hole. After a while the deer called out,

" Two smoke in,
Two smoke out,
Two smoke in,
Smother, smother, oh, oh."

The cubs uncovered the smoke hole, and the
deer came out. * .

Then the cubs went into the lodge, and the deer
covered the hole. In a short time the cubs cried,

" Smoke in,
Smother, smother."

The deer uncovered the hole, and the cubs came
out. After the deer had been in a second time, it
was the cubs' turn again.


They went in, and the deer again covered the
hole. When the cubs called,

" Two smoke in,
Two smoke in, .
Smother, smother,"

the deer sat on the cover and would not let them

When the cubs were smothered to death, the
young deer drew them up. They took some red
paint, which Old Grizzly had stolen from the Indians,
and lined the cubs' faces. The older one they
propped up on the top of the lodge, with a stick
under his mouth to keep it closed. The younger
cub they tied to the ladder and put a stick under
his mouth to keep it closed.

Then they went into the lodge and said to the
fireplace: "Fireplace, do not tell Okl Grizzly which
way we have gone. She killed our mother and so
we have killed her children." The fireplace promised
that it would not tell. And so they bound every-
thing in the lodge not to tell, everything but the
bone awl. They did not notice this because it was
sticking in the ceiling. Then they started away.

When Old Grizzly approached her home again,
she saw her cubs on the roof and ladder. She
noticed the red paint on their faces. She became


angry. " I '11 punish you well for wasting my red
paint," she cried. " I '11 teach you not to play with
such things."

As she came nearer, she saw that her children
were dead. She dropped her basket and wailed,
" Oh ! the children of Old Deer have punished me."

Then she cried, " Oh, children, where are you ? "

She went into the lodge and asked, "Fireplace,
which way did Old Deer's children go ? " The fire-
place was silent.

She questioned each article in the lodge, but re-
ceived no answer until she came to the bone awl. It
said, "The children of Old Deer went to the east."

Old Grizzly started after them. As the evening
star climbed up the sky, she came to a cave blockaded
with stones. She knew the young deer were in it.
She called out loud : " To-morrow when it is light,
I shall play a game with you children. Then I shall
be able to see."

The older child was awakened. It shook the
younger and whispered: "She has overtaken us.
We must plan what to do."

They watched Old Grizzly build a fire and lie
down beside it. After a while she snored. The
deer children threw little sticks near her. She did
not stir. They threw larger sticks. She did not
stir. They threw small stones and large stones.


Still she did not stir. Then they stole out of the
cave and ran away through the woods.

When they came to the river, they called out to
Old Crane: "Cross us over very fast, O Uncle,
else Old Grizzly will overtake us."

Old Crane hurried across to them. They told
him the story of Old Grizzly's killing their mother,
and of their revenge and flight. Old Crane was
very fond of Old Deer, so he lifted up his voice
and wailed, " E-ush tchiwa, t-ush tchiwa."

Crane's children also wept aloud, "E-ush tchi
tchil tchi tchti"

Then Old Crane crossed them over the river and
blew upon them. They stiffened out upon the
ground and looked like two whistle sticks.

When Old Grizzly was awakened by the morn-
ing star, she growled, " Now, at last, I shall play a
game with you children." She rushed to the cave.
The children were gone. She followed their tracks
to the river. There she hallooed to Old Crane,
" Come and cross me over the river."

Old Crane came slowly.

"Hurry, Old Crane. I want to overtake Old
Deer's children. Have you seen them ? Are they
on your side of the river."

"There are no deer children on my side,"
answered Old Crane.


" You are deceiving me," growled Old Grizzly.
" You are trying to conceal them. Here are their
tracks. Now cross me over fast."

" I have no canoe," objected Old Crane.

" You need no canoe. Cross me over fast,"
insisted Old Grizzly.

Old Crane spread out his legs across the river,
making a bridge from one side to the other. Old
Grizzly stepped on his legs and began walking over.
When she was halfway across, she felt thirsty.
She seized Old Crane's skullcap and drank from
the river. Then, to empty the cap, she gave it a
hit against Old Crane's leg. This angered Old
Crane. He drew down his leg and doused Old
Grizzly in the river.

Then he blew upon the whistle sticks, and they
turned into Old Deer's children. They took the
bows of Old Crane's children and shot Old Grizzly

While Wantasson had been telling his story,
Klayukat had come to the shop, his punch in his
hand. When the story was finished, he said, "A
very good tale that, Wantasson. My people have
one something like it, only it is of the robin and
the salmon berry, and it goes farther and tells how
the trees got their uses."


"Oh, tell that story to us, Klayukat. Oh,
please ! " cried the children.

" Not now, little ones. You have had your story
and a good one, too. Now Wantasson will fix my
punch for me, and you go to your play."


VIDENTLY Klayukat expected the
children the next morning, for he had
a basket of hazelnuts cracked for them.
"You eat these," he said, "and while I
stitch, I will tell you the story we spoke of."
"But first, Klayukat, what is a salmon berry?"
asked Antonio. " Has it anything to do with a
salmon ? "

" Nothing to do with a salmon except its color.
It is salmon colored when it is ripe. It is a berry
that is something like your blackberry, only it is
not black, and it does not grow on a vine. It grows
on a bush."

The children began crunching the nuts, and
Klayukat began his tale.

Robin and Salmon Berry were sisters. They
lived in different parts of the same house. Robin



had five children, and they were all girls. Salmon
Berry had five children, and they were all boys.

Every day Robin and Salmon Berry went picking
berries together. One evening, as they walked
toward home, Salmon Berry noticed that Robin's
berries were all unripe, for Robin had eaten the
ripe ones as she found them. Her own basket was
filled with luscious berries. Robin looked at Salmon
Berry and said, " What would you think if I should
eat you ? "

Salmon Berry replied, " Don't do that. My chil-
dren would be poor without me."

That night Salmon Berry told her children :
" That monster said she would like to eat me. If
she really should eat me, don't stay here any longer,
else she will eat you also. If she tries to deceive
you, do not believe her."

One night Robin came home alone. "Your
mother lost her way," she said to the Salmon Berry

" Behold, she has killed her," thought the eldest
son of Salmon Berry.

He stayed awake all night for fear that Robin
would eat him and his brothers while they were

In the morning Robin said: "I will search for
your mother. She must be lost in the woods."


When she was out of sight, Salmon Berry's eldest
son made a fire. He said to Robin's children : " Let 's
play a game. Let 's steam each other. You steam
us first, and then we will steam you. When we
cry, ' Now we are done,' you must let us out of the

"All right," said the children of Robin.

They heated stones and put them in the hole.
Then Salmon Berry's children went into the hole.
Robin's children piled dirt up over them. After a
while the eldest son called out, " Now we are done,"
and Robin's children uncovered them and let them

They heated stones again and put them into the
hole. Robin's children went in. The children of
Salmon Berry covered them up with dirt and piled
heavy sticks on top of them. Soon Robin's children
called, " We are done " ; but the children of Salmon
Berry would not let them out. Robin's children
cried a little while and then were silent. They were
dead. All five were dead.

The children of Salmon Berry took them out of
the hole. They put one near a pond of water and
twisted its mouth so that it looked as if it were
laughing. They put another in the water of the
pond. This was the youngest robin child. Still
another they put on the roof where it seemed to


be looking for its mother. The fourth they stood
upright near the door of the house, while they
placed the fifth on the sand so that it looked as if
it were playing with shells. Then they dug a hole.
They left their dog at the mouth of the hole and
they escaped through it.

Robin came home at night. She thought to
herself, "Now I will eat the eldest son."

She noticed something floating on the water, but
did not stop to examine it. She went straight to
the house, and said to the child sitting upright near
the door, "Where is your youngest sister?" The
child did not answer. She pushed her, and her
finger went right into her flesh.

She saw the child on the roof. " Where is your
youngest sister?" she called. The child did not
answer. She pulled at its arm, and the arm came

She went to the child playing in the sand.
" Where is your youngest sister ? " but the child
did not answer. She put her hand on its head,
and the head rolled off.

She saw the child sitting near the pond with its
mouth twisted as if it were laughing. " You cruel
thing ! " she cried, " I cannot find your youngest
sister, and you are laughing." She pulled the
child's hair, and it came out.


When she saw the youngest child floating on the
water, she went in to pull it out, and it came to
pieces. Then she wailed, " Oh, Salmon Berry's son
has killed my children."

She went to the house and looked around for her
nephews. Then she noticed the dog. " Which way
did your masters go ? " she asked him.

" Wu ! " answered the dog, pointing with his
mouth in one direction.

Robin ran that way and tried to smell the tracks
of the children of Salmon Berry. She could find
no trace of them. She returned to the dog. " You
are deceiving me," she accused him. "Tell me
which way your masters have gone."

'" Wu! " answered the dog, and pointed his mouth
in another direction. Robin ran where he had
pointed, but she could find no trace of the children
of Salmon Berry. She came back to the dog and
scolded him again. Five times did the dog turn her
from the right track. Then she discovered the hole.

She ran down it and found the tracks of the
children. She followed them, calling as she ran,
" O children ! I have found your mother."

The children of Salmon Berry heard her and ran
faster. The youngest grew tired, and the others
took turns in carrying him. After a while they
came to the skins of two elk bucks. The eldest


son found two kettles and boiled the skins in one
and the antlers in another, and he said to each:
" When Robin reaches you, you must boil violently.
Don't cool off too quickly, for she will be hungry
and will forget to pursue us while she waits to eat."
Then the children ran on.

Robin came to the kettles. They were both boil-
ing violently. She began to scold the kettle of
skins. " I will take revenge on your grandmother,
your mother, and all your relatives." The skins
could not stand this. They stopped boiling. They
cooled off. Robin ate, and ate, and ate, until she
finished all that was in the kettle of skins.

Then she looked at the kettle of antlers and be-
gan to scold it. " I will take revenge on your father,
your uncle, your mother, and all your relatives."
The antlers could not stand this. They stopped
boiling and cooled off. Robin ate, and ate, and ate,
until she had eaten all that was in the kettle of
antlers. Then she went on as quickly as she could.

Meanwhile the children of Salmon Berry had
reached the creek. They saw Old Crane near the
water and asked him to take them across.

"Don't be afraid, children," he answered. "Go
to my house and eat there. Fish has been boiled
for you." They went to Old Crane's house and
ate and rested.


Robin came to the creek. She called, " Younger
Brother, take me across." She called this many
times. Then Old Crane came over slowly. He
stretched his legs out and bridged the water. He
said to Robin, " Don't be afraid, or you might
fall in."

Robin started to walk across on his leg. When
she was halfway over, she became frightened, for
the leg there was narrow.. Old Crane began to
shake his leg, and he shook it so hard that Robin
fell into the water. As she was floating down-
stream, she heard Old Crane calling after her:
" Robin shall be your name, Robin shall be your
name. But no more shall you eat people."

The current first swept Robin against jagged
rocks, which cut her breast, and then it landed
her upon a sandy beach. There she lay still and
seemed to be dead. The crow came and pecked
at the hole in her breast. The blood flowed out,
and Robin stirred a little. " Stop eating me, Old
Crow," she murmured, "I am alive." The crow
flew away. Robin lay still awhile.

When the blood had stopped flowing and had
caked itself over her breast, she arose and started
homeward through the woods. On her way she
passed a willow and said to it, " O Willow, is my
painting becoming ? "


The willow sighed, " Oh, how bad looks the
blood on her breast ! "

" Oh, you bad thing ! " answered Robin. " When
your wood burns, it will crackle and give out little

Then she came to an alder and asked, " O Alder,
is my painting becoming ? "

The alder bowed quietly. "It is becoming, the
blood of your breast.".

"Ah, little sister," laughed Robin ; " when people
want color, they will get red dye from your bark.
When you are dry, you will burn with a steady

She next came to a cottonwood. " O Cotton-
wood, is my painting becoming ? "

" Oh, how bad looks the blood of her breast ! "
murmured the cottonwood.

" Oh, you horrid thing ! You shall have breaks
in your side, and you will not burn well when you
are dry."

Then she passed to the maple and asked, " O
Maple, is my painting becoming ? "

" Oh, how becoming is the blood of her breast ! "
nodded the maple.

" Ah, you are true, dear sister. Your bark shall
be used for baskets, and people shall find them of
great use."


When she came to the vine maple, she asked as
before, " Is my painting becoming ? "

" Oh, how becoming is the blood of her breast ! "
replied the vine maple.

" You answer well, and your wood shall be used
for dishes and spoons, and for all things to make
a house comfortable."

Then she passed to the cedar and asked, " O
Cedar, is my painting becoming ? "

" Oh, how becoming is the blood of her breast ! "
answered the cedar.

" You speak well, my younger brother. When
people make canoes of you, they will be able to
exchange them for slaves. They shall use you
for houses and sell these for values."

Then she went to the fir and asked, " O Fir, is
my painting becoming ? "

" Oh, how becoming is the blood of her breast ! "
sighed the fir.

"You are wise, O Fir. When conjurers chant
their songs, your wood shall be burned in their
sacred fires. Your breath shall ever be sought
after by p'eople. You will always be a healer
of woes."

Thus Robin passed through the forest, giving
to each tree the uses that it has to-day.


"And did that horrid robin give every tree its
use every single tree?" inquired Juanita.

" Every tree that has a use got it from Robin
that day."

"And was the hazel tree told to raise these
nuts ? " and Antonio held up the few that were
left in the basket.

" It was told that day."

"Well, they're good nuts, but I wish that old
Robin hadn't told them to grow," said Juanita,
as she stood up and shook her skirt in disdain.

" You may have more nuts some other day.
Now go to the house before that Tecla comes
calling for you."



HE next day Juanita said, "When
Klayukat told us about the robin
and salmon berry, why did n't we
ask him if he knew a story about the
real salmon ? "
" Let 's go and ask him now, though I don't see
that a salmon could do much living always in the

" But the salmon berry children did much. Why
not a salmon ? Wilt thou ask him, Tonio ? "

" Yes. Come along," and they walked across to
the saddlery.

" About a salmon ? Well, I know how the ani-
mals first got salmon. Will that do ? Yes? Well,
sit on the hides, and I will tell you that story."



In the olden times there were a great many sal-
mon in the sea, but none could get up the river.
Five old beaver sisters built a dam at the mouth of
the river and would not let them pass.

The animals up the river were starving. They
had eaten all the berries and nuts and roots of
the past year, and there would be no more food
for them for three moons. They went in a body
to Coyote and prayed, " O Coyote ! get us some
salmon, else our bones will cut through our

" I will think what to do," answered Coyote. He
thought and thought and thought. Then he made
a boat and started down alone to the mouth of the

When he got near the dam, he changed himself
into an Indian baby tied to a papoose board. Then
he lay in the bottom of the boat and floated until
he was just above the dam. Just then one of the
five sisters came out to the river's edge. As soon
as Coyote saw her, he began to wail like a little
baby. She waded in and brought the canoe to

Then she called to her sisters: "O sisters! I
have found a baby. His mother must have been
drowned from the canoe, and he has floated down

She waded in and brought the canoe to shore :


The other sisters crowded around to see him
and to pinch his round little cheeks. He began to
cry. Then they said, " Let us give him some food."

They gave him shredded salmon, and it tasted
very good to hungry Coyote. He laughed and held
up his tiny hands. They laughed with him and
pinched his cheeks and caressed him. Then they
took him to their camp and left him alone while
they went out to watch the dam.

After they had disappeared, Coyote changed
back to his own form. He hunted around for
the key of the dam. He did not find it, but he
found some dried salmon and ate it.

The sisters came home at sundown. They saw
only the little' baby on a papoose board in the
corner where they had left him. When they
missed their dried salmon, they exclaimed, "This
is strange "; but they did not suspect the baby.

The next sunrise the sisters went to guard
the dam. Coyote became himself again, and again
searched for the key. He did not find it, but he
found and ate some more dried salmon. At night,
when the sisters missed their food, they said, " This
is wonderful." They looked keenly at the baby on
the papoose board in the corner. He smiled and
cooed, " Goo, goo ! " They smiled back and said,
"No, it cannot be the baby."


This happened for four suns. On the fifth Coy-
ote found the key to the dam hanging on a knot of
an elder tree. So fast did he run to the river that
the earth trembled beneath his steps.

The sisters, sitting at the dam, were shaken.
"This is amazing," they said. "That baby must
be a monster."

Just then they saw Coyote in his own form run-
ning towards them. They seized clubs and fell
upon him. He wriggled away and plunged into the
water. He swam to the door of the dam and

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Online LibraryKatherine ChandlerIn the reign of Coyote, folkflore from the Pacific coast → online text (page 4 of 7)