Western Shoshoni Myths:
The Theft of Pine Nuts
The people in this country had no pine nuts. They talked about going off toward the north to get some.
They started off toward the northeast. Coyote was among them. They went to a big camp where there were many people gathering pine nuts. Soon after they arrived, they began to play the hand game against these people. But the next day, they did not know whether they had lost or won. They went on to another place where there were also people who had pine nuts. Here they played a game of shooting at a small round target with a bow and arrow. They bet their lives in this game; the losers were to be killed by the winners. When one side missed the target, its opponents took its arrow. Crow was shooting and had only two arrows left. Coyote watched him. When Coyote saw him losing, he walked around and shouted and wondered what to do. Crow was about to shoot at the target again. Coyote said to him, "Why don't you hit the target?" Crow shot and missed. He had only one arrow now. When he shot this one, he hit the target. Then he began to win. He won back everything they had lost and then won everything the other people owned. Finally, their opponents even bet their pine nuts, and lost them.
The people did not want to give up their pine nuts. They hung them on a tall tree which had no branches, so that no one could climb up. During the night they slept under the tree to prevent anyone getting the pine nuts. Cottontail began to play his flute, "tu hu du du du . . ." Some old women who were helping to protect the nuts knew that they were going to lose them and began to cry for help. Early in the morning, while the people under the tree were still asleep, Coyote and the others started to get the pine nuts. Coyote said, "What do these old women make a noise for? Why don't they go to sleep?" He poked their eyes with a stick and
blinded them. Woodpecker (a red woodpecker) flew up in the tree and took the pine nuts.
When Woodpecker brought the pine nuts down, Coyote and the people took them and began to run for home. The others pursued them and caught those who became tired while they were running. They killed every one they caught. Although many people started out, nearly all were killed before they got home.
When nearly all the people were dead, Woodpecker gave the pine nuts to Crow. Crow went on with them. He hid them under his feathers, behind his ear, and in other parts of his body. The pursuers knew he would hide them this way and tried to hit him. They struck his leg and knocked it off. It went a long way through the air. Then they struck Crow and brought him to the ground. They said, "Now we will wait and take a rest."
After they had rested, they went on to where Crow had fallen and searched his body for the pine nuts. They found that Crow had left his feathers behind [i. e., shed his skin] and gone on, taking the pine nuts with him. They looked and a long way off saw where his leg had fallen, but Crow was far beyond, still carrying his pine nuts. They saw pine-nut trees all over the mountains, where the nuts had fallen from Crow's leg when it was knocked through the air. They saw smoke coming up through the trees, where the people were already out picking the pine nuts. Crow was flying about crying, "Caw, caw, I have had my pine nuts with me all the time."
All this happened up by Lida.