Manataka American Indian Council





Apache Stories VI



Coyote Marries his Own Daughter

Chiricahua Apache



Coyote lived with his many children. His oldest daughter was very pretty. He
wanted to marry her.

Then he pretended to be sick. He spoke thus to his wife: "I am badly sick."
he said to her. "Make me a bed on that tree that stands there. Put me up
there." he said to her.  Then his wife made a bed for him there.

Then he lay down up there. From somewhere he had brought a liver back that was rotten. He had put this by his side.

Then he spoke thus to his wife: "Sweep right here under me every day. When worms begin to fall, you will know I am gone.1 Then you will go away. You will give [my daughter] to anyone you meet carrying four fat prairie dogs.
You will give him the oldest one." he said to her.

He had sexual desires toward his daughter. So he spoke thus.

They knew him by a large wart that was on the side of his head. 2

Then, every day, his wife swept [the ground] under him. One day there appeared many worms on that liver. And he was dropping the worms down [to the ground].

Then, the next day, his wife was coming again to the place under him. She saw the worms he had dropped lying scattered about on the ground. She went back to her children. She was weeping.

"The worms have fallen. We shall go right away. 'When the worms fall, you will go.' he said to us." she said to her children.

Sadly, they started off. When they were nearly out of sight, the small one, the youngest one, looked back to the tree that stood there. He saw his father jumping from the tree that stood there.

Then he spoke thus to his mother: "My mother, [I'm] sure my father jumped from the tree that stands there!" he said to her.

Then his mother spoke thus to him: "Do not say so, my child. He is gone long ago. Do not mention him." his mother said to him. 3

In spite of that, the little one spoke thus to his mother: "No, I say! No, I say! It was my father! It was certainly him!" he said.

But then his mother stopped him. They went on.

Then, at a place still further on, that Coyote himself, carrying four prairie dogs, met his children. Her husband talked to her but she did not recognize him.

Then that Coyote, when he met his children, spoke thus to them: "Where are you who look so sad going?" he said to them.

Then his wife spoke thus to him: "'When the worms fall, you will go,' he said to us. Then the worms fell. Therefore we are travelling here. He has gone." she said.

Then, though it was indeed him, he spoke thus to her: "The old man was wise. He said some thing else, no doubt?" he said to her.

Then she spoke thus to him: "Yes. 'You will give this oldest girl to anyone who carries four prairie dogs.' he said to me." she said.

Then he spoke thus to her: "It is so, I say, he was wise!" he said.

Then she gave him her oldest daughter. She made a wickiup for him. 4 His daughter, being his wife, sat with him in the sun.

Then he spoke thus to his daughter: "My wife, search for lice on me." he said to her.

Putting his head in her lap, he lay on his side as she searched for lice on him. They knew him by a large wart that was on the side of his head. His head lay on that side. She put her hand there every now and then.

Then he spoke thus to her: "They are on this side of me." he said, not permitting her to put her hand on the side on which the big wart lay.  Suddenly, he fell asleep.

Then that girl thought thus. "Let's see, why does he not allow me to put my hand on this side?" she thought, looking on that side as he slept.

And a big wart was on the side of his head! It was her father! As he slept, she slipped quietly out from under him. She ran back to her mother. She spoke thus to her mother: "My mother, that one is my father! A big wart lies
on the side of his head! That shows that it is surely him!" she said to her.

She went back to him with her mother. He was still asleep. The two of them went to him. They looked at the side of his head. It was indeed him!

[The mother] picked up a big stone. She put it on top of her head. She stood over him where he slept. She threw the stone on his head. She had killed him.

Ethnological Notes
Morris Opler

1 "To be gone" is the accepted euphemism for death.

2 That is, the members of Coyote's family knew that he had a large wart on the side of his head. The informant did not know this tale very well, and, in the first telling of it, omitted this detail which is important later. He
afterward made this insertion which is, therefore, curiously out of context.

3 Mention of the dead is forbidden by the Apache, especially in the presence of relatives of the deceased.

4 Residence among the Chiricahua is matrilocal. The girl's mother, with the help of other female relatives, constructs a wickiup for the newly married couple not very far distant from her own home. House building is the work of the women.

Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Texts,1938, Harry Hoijer, principal author. Ethnological Notes by Morris Opler. Told by Sam Kenoi
Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.



Coyote Hunts Geese

Chiricahua Apache

Coyote was once a man and lived with the people. His great-grandfather named him Coyote, but because he did wrong the people came to dislike him and began to call him coward. The reason the people did not like him was because he was always scheming and trying to cheat some one. One time he went out to visit his best friend, and when he arrived at his friend's lodge he found that his friend had been feasting on white geese. "Where did you get these white geese?"

"Well," said his friend, "I catch them every evening near the lake. Would you like to go with me this evening to catch a few of them?" "Yes," said Coyote. His friend then said: "You go on home and come back this evening. We will then go together and I will show you where the geese always come in the evening, and I will see that you have a good time, too. "Oh, you do not have to show me how to get them; I can get them all right. All you have to do is just to show me where they are," said Coyote. "All right," said his friend, and Coyote was pleased, for he thought he was going to have a very fine, fat bird for supper that evening. He danced all the way from his friend's home to his own. As soon as Coyote was out of sight the friend began to carry out ashes from the fire and place them near the lake, where he formed them in the shape of white geese. Just before it was evening he went out and put some coals under the ashes, and in a little while the coals burned up, but the fire could not be seen from the outside. When Coyote came to his friend he found him laughing and feeling in high spirits.

"Well," said Coyote, "are you ready to go and catch a few white geese? I am ready to make a long jump and I think I can get two at once." "Well," said the friend, "I am ready, too. We will go now." They started out, and as they approached the place the friend began to go slowly, taking the lead, and when they came to the place he pretended not to see the first pile of ashes.

Finally Coyote saw the first pile, came closer to his friend and began punching him in the back. Both stopped and Coyote said: "I guess I will have to kill this first one, and if I catch him I will take him for my supper."

"All right," said the friend. Coyote began to get down next to the ground, going nearer and nearer to the pile of ashes. When he was about to jump, the friend began to laugh. Coyote paid no attention, but jumped on the pile of hot ashes and burned himself. He began to run from the place. He was burned so badly that he ran until he killed himself.

Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Texts,1938, Harry Hoijer, principal author. Ethnological Notes by Morris Opler. Told by Sam Kenoi.

Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories



Coyote Obtains Fire

Chiricahua Apache

Long ago, there was no fire. Then only those who are called Flies had fire.

Then the Flies held a ceremony. And Coyote came there1. At that place where they held the ceremony, Coyote danced around and around at the edge of the fire. And he continually poked his tail in the fire.

Then they spoke thus to him: "Friend, your tail will burn," they said to him.

Then: "Let it burn!" he said to them. And he put his tail in the fire. The fire flared up under his tail.

Then many of them circled around him. The Flies, they did so. Then many of them circled around him but that Coyote jumped over [and] away from them with the fire. He ran away from them with the fire. They ran behind him.

Then, farther on, he gave fire to the Eagle. At that place, now, he scattered the fire all over among these mountains. Fire was burning in every direction.

Then these Flies tried to put out the fire but they tried in vain.

Then, that Coyote having been helped by the blowing of the wind, the fire, becoming impossible to control, burned on. In this way, fire came into existence. 5

Then [the Flies] hated that Coyote. And they spoke thus to him: "The stones, the earth, the water: let them all become hot for him!" they said to him. That happened exactly so.

Then he was dashing around and around. The Coyote did so. All of these became hot for him. Therefore he ran away in vain. A [pond of] water lay there.

"This, also, used to be cool." he said. And he jumped into the water that lay there. A [hissing] noise was heard. Right there, he was boiled.

At this time, anything that they said occurred in exactly that way. Anything of which one said: "It is to happen so." happened in just that way. For that reason one did not say just anything to someone. If one spoke in that way to
someone one hated, it happened in exactly that way. For that reason, one did not say just anything to someone. 6 They spoke only in a very good way.

Then, it having happened so in this place, fire came into existence. Because of Coyote, fire came into existence, they say. In this way, the old people have told them about it.

Ethnological Notes
Morris Opler

5 The winning of fire for man is always attributed to Coyote by the Chiricahua. The identities of those from whom he steals it and of those who aid him in the theft differ in various versions.

6 The informant might have added that the same belief governs Apache behavior today. If an Apache curses and wishes ill to another shortly before some disaster occurs to the one upon whom the malediction falls, the person
who spoke so rashly will be considered a "witch" by many and may find himself in serious trouble.

Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Texts,1938, Harry Hoijer, principal author. Ethnological Notes by Morris Opler.  Told by Lawrence Mithlo
Submitted by Blue Panther Keeper of Stories