WHEN THE COYOTE MARRIED THE MAIDEN
From The Navaho Age of Gods
In the Age of Gods: After the first loom was made the people lived peacefully for about half a century. Then these strange creatures that were born began to eat the people. There is a little hill called tqnts'i'se ko just across the Mancos Canyon, which used to be a house. It was the home of 12 brothers. (On the top of this hill you can see a ruin.) The brothers were great hunters and hunted all over the mesas. They had one sister. The girl grew to be a beautiful maiden, and the holy men came from far and wide to ask her to marry them.
The maiden's name was Ataed'diy ini. When her brothers were away hunting she stayed at home alone. Now the Coyote came to the brothers and called out: "Brothers-in-law." He wanted this maiden to become his wife. Ataed'diy ini told him "No," for only the one who killed the giant would become her husband. The Coyote sat there with his head down for a moment, then he said: "Very well." He left her and went to the home of the giant.
When he saw the giant he said: "Brother, why do people outrun you? Now if you want me to, I can make you run as fast as I can. I have no trouble getting meat. I know of herbs that will clean your system; and I will show you the medicine which I use on my legs to make me run fast."
Now this giant was very clumsy; he just walked along slowly and when people saw him they became so frightened that they were unable to run away. Because of this he could pick them up and put them in his big basket. The giant was, however, interested in the Coyote's plan.
The Coyote told the giant to build a sweat house; and while the giant was doing this the Coyote gathered the herbs. He also got a fresh leg of deer. When the sweat house was built and the hot stones placed inside they both entered it. Each took a good drink of the herb infusion the Coyote prepared. Now the drink made them nauseated and they vomited into the bowls each had taken into the sweat house. In the Coyote's bowl were found grasshoppers and lizards; the giant had vomited fat meat; but the Coyote hastily changed the bowls, and pulling aside the door covering and letting in the light, he showed them to the giant and said: "Look what you vomited. These things keep you from running swiftly". The giant said: "I see." They left the sweat house to get cool.
"Now," said the Coyote, "I will give you the medicine for your legs so that you will run swiftly." It was well with the giant. They returned to the sweat house; and the Coyote secretly took the deer's leg with him. The Coyote said: "Now comes the last step. This is very powerful medicine that I use." In the darkness he laid the deer's leg over his own leg and cut it in two. He put the giant's hand over the severed leg and showed him that it was indeed in two pieces. The giant said: "I see." The Coyote then quickly put the pieces of the deer's leg back of himself. He commenced spitting on his own leg and said: "Now get well, get well." After this he made the giant feel his perfect leg. The Coyote told the giant that now all the bad food was out of his stomach, and all the bad blood was out of his leg, and that he could outrun anything he saw. The giant said again, "I see."
After this the Coyote got out his knife and said that he would do the same thing for the giant's leg. He cut off one of them, and the giant groaned with great pain. The giant began to spit on the two parts. He tried to make them grow together. But the Coyote grabbed the giant's severed leg and ran away with it, saying: "I never heard of a bone growing together in a day."
The Coyote took the giant's leg to the maiden and told her that he had killed the giant. But the maiden said that before she would marry him she would have to kill him; and if he could return to life, then he could be her husband. The Coyote hung his head and covered his eyes with his hand for a moment. "Very well," he said, and he went away.
He went a short distance to the east side of the dwelling, and there he formed a little black mountain. He put a tunnel through the mountain, and he traveled still farther to the east. He then took out his lungs and heart and wrapped them in the Black Wind. He returned through the tunnel to the maiden's home. He said: "Now you can do as you wish with me." She got a club and killed him and threw his body on the ash dump. She went into her house, but he followed her. "Are you my wife now?" he asked her. But she said: "I have to kill you twice." So he left her and traveled to the south, and there be built a blue mountain, and he carved a tunnel through it. To the south be took out his heart and his lungs and he wrapped them in the Blue Wind. Only his body returned to the maiden's dwelling. He said: "Now do whatever you wish with me." So she killed him and cut him into pieces and threw them. on the ash heap. But he followed her into her house and asked: "Are you my wife now?" But she said: "No, I must kill you three times." He left her and went out to the west, and there be built a yellow mountain; and he cut a tunnel through it; and in the west he left his heart and lungs wrapped in the Yellow Wind. He returned to the maiden and spoke to her as before. But again she killed him and ground the carcass with earth and threw it out. She returned to the house but he followed her. He said: "Are you my wife now?" But she answered: "No, four times I must kill you." This time the Coyote went to the north and built a white mountain. He cut a tunnel, as before. At its end he left his heart and lungs wrapped in the White Wind. His body returned to the maiden. "Now do with me whatever you wish," he said. This time, after she killed him, she cut him into pieces, ground the pieces with earth and threw it in all directions. Satisfied, she returned to her home; but after a little while the Coyote came in and said: "Now are you my wife?" The maiden asked him how he could do these things. He told her that after she became his wife he would show her his magic. She let the Coyote come. He became her husband and she became his wife. Then he took her to the east and showed her the mountain and the tunnel that he had made. And he took her to the south, and west, and north. She learned to do what the Coyote had done. He taught her his ways.
And now she was called Jikai'naazi'li, Tingling Maiden.
After a time they saw the brothers returning. The two were frightened and did not know what to do. The Coyote jumped over a pile of goods (blankets) and his wife covered him. When the brothers entered the house the fire was out, and the girl sat there looking strangely. She was not the same. The eldest brother asked in surprise: "Why is the fire out? Why is there nothing cooking? Why is the home not in order?"
The eldest brother told the others to get wood. The brothers did this and built a fire of cedar wood. When the fire was burning the odor of coyote was strong inside the house. The eldest brother told the others to throw out the wood and to bring fresh wood. A second fire was built of fresh wood, but still they smelled coyote. They threw the firewood out again and they gathered the branches of trees, but it did no good; they gathered the topmost branches, but still the odor of coyote was strong in the dwelling. The eldest brother then cursed the coyote. "The Coyote with his ugly odor is everywhere," he said. Just then the Coyote threw the cover off and came out, saying: "What is the trouble, my brothers-in-law?"
Now the brothers did not know what to say. They sat around the fire with their heads down. In a short time they went out and built themselves a little shelter, and they camped there that night. The house they left for the Coyote and his wife.
The following morning when the brothers went out to hunt, the Coyote said that he would go with them. The eldest brother told the others that from then on they could only expect trouble. "But it is our duty to hunt," he said, "and we must go and hunt today."
Now in those days all was sacred and holy. There was a rainbow, formed like a young man, lying by the canyon's edge. They threw him over the canyon and crossed on him. After the brothers had crossed the canyon they heard the Coyote calling far behind them. The eldest brother said: "I guess that we had better bring him across before he does something worse than howling." So they went back and brought him over the rainbow bridge.
They were on a mesa north of the Mancos Canyon when the Coyote came chasing a big ram. (There were many mountain sheep there at that time.) One of the brothers pulled his bow and aimed his arrow at the ram. He shot the arrow and killed the ram. Now in those days the horn of the mountain sheep was filled with fat, delicious marrow; and all the hunters prized it as their favorite fat. Whoever killed a sheep, to him went the horns. When the Coyote saw that the ram he had been chasing had been killed by one of the brothers he claimed the horns. The brother spoke to the Coyote and told him to behave like a man once in a while. "There was a rule that whoever kills a sheep gets the horns." With this the brother began to cut the pair of horns. The Coyote stood to one side and whispered: "Turn to bone. Turn to bone." The brother cut and cut, but the horn had turned to solid bone. And where he had tried to cut it ridges formed. That is why there, are rings on mountain sheep horns today.'
The brothers dressed the sheep and rolled the meat into a little ball. They told the Coyote to take the meat to his wife and to tell her to have it ready for them when they returned. One of the brothers took the Coyote across the canyon. He warned him by no means to put the meat ball down on the way. But no sooner had the brother departed than he put down the meat ball. Immediately it turned into the big pile of meat. The Coyote thought that he could do what the brothers had done. He tried to roll it into a little ball again; but he could not do it. He walked over to the canyon's edge and he saw that way down in the bottom of the canyon a big game was going on. There were people in the canyon playing this game. They were the Swallow People or cliff dwellers. The Coyote called down to them; he said that they were certainly an ugly people--the men and their wives alike. He said that his wife was beautiful and light of skin.
All this made the cliff people very angry, and they decided to get rid of him, to kill him. While the Coyote sat up there calling out insults, two young spider men climbed up the wall of the canyon; and from the cliff's edge they spun a long, high fence strong as woven mats. It was very high and very strong, and it extended for a long way back of the Coyote. After the two young men had finished they returned to the bottom of the canyon. Then all the cliff people went after the Coyote who was still sitting there on the rim mocking them. He insulted them and he kicked at them and he said that not one in all that crowd could catch him. Just as they reached the rim of the canyon, away he went as fast as he could run. But he came up against the spider men's fence and it threw him back, He tried to jump over it but failed. Now the cliff people were very near. He tried and tried to jump over the fence, and the fourth time he fell back among the cliff people. They caught him and killed him. They cut his hide into strips and made headbands of the fur. That is why swallows have a little ring around their heads. They have worn these little light bands ever since they made them out of the Coyote's hide.