Synopses & Reviews
Coyote Keeps His Name
One time great spirit called all the animal people together. They came from all over the earth to one camp and set up their lodges. Spirit Chief said there was going to be a change. There was going to be a new kind of people coming along. nimal People they would now have to have
He told all the Animal People they would now have to have names.
"Some Of you have names now, some have no names. Tomorrow everyone will have a name. This name will be your name forever, for all your descendants. In the morning you must come to my lodge and choose your name. The first one to come may choose any name he wants. The next person will take any other name. That is the way it will go. And to each person I will give some work to do."
All the Animal People wanted to have powerful names and be well known. They wanted to be the first to Old Man's lodge in the morning. Coyote walked around saying he would be the first. He did not like his name. He was called Trickster and Imitator. Everybody said those names fitted him, but he wanted a new name.
"I will take one of the three powerful names," said Coyote. "The Mountain Person, Grizzly Bear, who rules all the fourleggeds, or Eagle, who rules the birds, or Good Swimmer, the Salmon, the chief of the Fish People. These are the best names. I will take one of these names."
Fox, who was Coyote's brother, said, "Maybe you will have to keep the name you have, which is Sinkalip. People don't like that name. No one wants it."
"I am tired of that name, Sinkalip!" said Coyote. "Let some old person who cannot do anything take it. I am a warrior! Tomorrow when I am called Grizzly Bear or Eagle or Salmon you will nottalk like this. You will beg to have my new name, brother."
"You had better go home and get some sleep, Sinkalip," said Fox, "or you will not wake up in time to get any name."
But Coyote didn't go home. He went around asking the Animal People questions. When he heard the answers he would say, "Oh, I knew that before. I did not have to ask." This is the way he was. He lost his shirt in a game of hoop and stick, then he went home and talked with his wife. She would be called Mole, the Mound Digger, after the naming day.
"Bring in plenty of wood now. I must stay awake all night. Tomorrow I must get my new name. I will be Grizzly Bear. I will be a great warrior and a chief."
Coyote sat watching the fire. Mole went to bed with the children. Half the night passed. Coyote got sleepy. His eyes grew heavy and started to close, so he took two small sticks and wedged them between his eyelids to hold his eyes open. "Now I can stay awake," he thought, but before long he was asleep with his eyes wide open.
The sun was high in the sky when Coyote woke up. Mole made a noise that woke Coyote. She did not wake him up before this because she was afraid if he got a great name he would go away and leave her. So she didn't say anything.
Coyote went right over to the lodge of Old Man. He saw no one around and thought he was the first. He went right in and said, "I am going to be Grizzly Bear. That shall be my name." He was talking very loudly.
"The name Grizzly Bear was taken at dawn," said the Great Spirit.
"Then my name shall be Eagle."
"Eagle flew away at sunrise."
"Well, I shall be called Salmon then," said Coyote in a quiet voice.
"The name Salmon has also b entaken," said the Great Spirit. "All the names have been taken except yours. No one wanted to steal your name."
Coyote looked very sad. He sat down by the fire and was very quiet. The Great., Spirit was touched.
"Imitator," he said, you must keep your name. It is a good name for you. I wanted you to have that name and so I made you sleep late. I wanted you to be the last one here. I have important work for you to do. The New People are coming, you will be their chief.
"There are many bad creatures on the earth. You will have to kill them. Otherwise they will eat the New People. When you do this, the New People will honor you. They will say you are a great chief. Even the ones who come after them will remember what you have done, and they will honor you for killing the People-devouring monsters and for teaching the New People all the ways of living.
"The New People will not know anything when they come, not how to dress, how to sing, how to shoot an arrow. You will show them how to do all these things. And put the buffalo out for them and show them how to catch salmon.
"But you will do foolish things too, and for this the New People will laugh at you. You cannot help it. This will be your way.
"To make your work easier, I will give you a special power. You will be able to change yourself into anything. You will be able to talk to anything and hear anything talk except the water.
"If you die, you will come back to life. This will be your way. Changing Person, do your work well!"
Coyote was glad. He went right out and began his work. This is the way it was with him. He went out to make things right.
Prankster, warrior, seducer, fool -- Old Man Coyote is the most enduring legend in Native American culture. Crafty and cagey -- often the victim of his own magical intrigues and lusty appetites -- he created the earth and man, scrambled the stars and first brought fire . . . and death. Barry Lopez -- National Book Award-winning author of Arctic Dreams and recipient of the John Burroughs Medal for his bestselling masterwork Of Wolves and Men -- has collected sixty-eight tales from forty-two tribes, and brings to life a timeless myth that abounds with sly wit, erotic adventure, and rueful wisdom.
Prankster, warrior, seducer, fool -- Old Man Coyote is the most enduring legend in Native American culture. Crafty and cagey -- often the victim of his own magical intrigues and lusty appetites -- he created the earth and man, scrambled the stars and first brought fire . . . and death. Barry Lopez -- National Book Award-winning author of"
Prankster, warrior, seducer, fool--Old Man Coyote is the most enduring legend in Native American culture. Crafty and cagey-often the victim of his own magical intrigues and lusty appetites--he created the Earth and man, scrambled the stars and first brought fire...and death.