Manataka American Indian Council








Coyote Herds Sheep

For A White Man

White Mountain Apache Story

Coyote started traveling. After a while he came to a White man's house. The White man said he would give him some work.


"I want you to herd my sheep for me," he said.


So Coyote started in working, herding the sheep. He herded them all day till sundown.

After a while Coyote saw that some of the sheep were getting fat and he thought to himself, "I would like to eat some of them. Tomorrow I will herd them out, and then I will eat some."


The next morning he herded the sheep out to a lake, about which many bulrushes were growing. When he got there he went after one of the sheep and killed it. Then he cut off its tail and stuck this into the mud at the edge of the lake. He killed lots of sheep.  Each one's tail he cut off and stuck in the mud, all about the place. This way he killed them all.

Then he went back to the White man's house and called to the White man, "Gray Eyes, while I was herding your sheep they all sank into the ground."


"Then let's get some shovels and go and dig them out," said the White man.


So they did and went back to the lake. The White man saw the tails of the sheep Coyote had eaten, sticking out of the mud. He believed his sheep had really all sunk into the ground.


Then Coyote told him, "Don't try to grab their tails and pull them out because if you do you might pull the tail right off."


In spite of this the White man thought he would try to pull them out by the tails, so he grabbed hold of one tail and pulled. Out came the tail, but nothings else.


Coyote said, "I told you not to do that. Now you have pulled the sheep's tail off!"


But the White man kept pulling out one tail after another. Finally when he had them all pulled out, he still thought that the sheep were in the ground. He didn't know Coyote had eaten them. He had no more sheep.


"Now all my sheep have gone in the ground. I have none left," he said.

Told by Bane Tithla.  Taken from Myths and Tales of the White Mountain Apache by Grenville, Goodwin, 1939.
From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.




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