Western Shoshoni Myths:
The Origin of People
Every day Coyote met a girl. The girl lived with her mother, who said, "Why don't you bring that Coyote here? He will hunt, game for us. Bring him home."
When Coyote met the girl again, he became amorous. She said, "All right, but I shall go a little way ahead. Then you come." The girl went some distance toward the east and stopped. When Coyote came up to her he said, "This is the place." She said, "No, it is farther." She went ahead again, and when Coyote cattle to where she was, the same thing happened. Every time he came up to her, Coyote made advances. Thus, they went from place to place and crossed a high mountain.
While crossing the mountain, they came to a cliff. What Coyote discovered while climbing the cliff . . . frightened him. Coyote continued to follow the, girl, and they went toward the east, where the girl and her mother had a house.
Coyote and the girl reached the house. That night the girl's Mother, an old woman, cooked all kinds of food for them to eat.
She said to Coyote and the girl, "You go and make a bed outside." Coyote . . . knew what to expect . . . He was frustrated.
In the morning the old woman said to Coyote, "You go and hunt ducks. There are a lot of arrows out there. Take them with you. Hunt all day and kill many ducks." 14
Coyote hunted all day and brought back a great many ducks. The old woman plucked them and boiled them in a pot. She and her daughter ate the meat. Coyote sat to one side. He could see how they disposed of the bones . . .
That night Coyote's advances were frustrated . . .
In the morning the old woman said to Coyote, "You go and hunt again. Hunt mountain sheep. There are arrows outside. Take them with you." Coyote said, "I am a great hunter. All right. I will go and hunt."
Coyote walked up into the mountains. Coyote was a smart man. Halfway up the mountain, he saw a mountain sheep. It was young and small and had short horns that were still soft and weak. Coyote went after the small sheep and killed it at once. He shot it. He butchered it and prepared it. He wanted a piece of the neck, because the neck is strong. He cut off a piece of the neck and said, "I do not want to give this to those women." He hid it.
Coyote went back to the women's house that night. The old woman met him and took the sheep. She looked it over and said, "Coyote, what did you do with that neck?" Coyote, said, "I threw it away." The old woman said, "It is good to eat." The old woman and the girl boiled the meat. They ate it, and when they were through it was dark.
The old woman said, "You two make a bed." The girl made a bed. Coyote was still lustful. The girl was very fine; she was a good looking girl . . . Coyote went to where he had hidden the mountain sheep's neck. He returned bringing it with him . . . He visited both the girl and the old woman . . .
In the morning, Coyote went out to hunt ducks. He brought back a great many ducks for the women to eat. The women plucked and boiled the ducks. They ate off the meat, then pulverized the bones with a rock.
That night Coyote again visited the women.
The old woman made a basketry water jug, a very large jug. She worked on it for several days. Coyote stayed with the women. Every day he hunted.
After a few days, the old woman said to him, "You must go home. Carry that jug, with you. Don't open it while you are traveling. Don't open it anywhere. When you come to the middle of the country, open it."
Coyote started out carrying the jug, but it was too heavy. He said, "What is in this jug? It is too heavy. I want to open it and see what is in it." He decided to open it. He took a rock and hammered open the stopper. At once people jumped out. Many people jumped out. Nearly all the people jumped out. There were young men and young women. These were fine looking men and women. This happened near Saline Valley. 15
When only a few people remained in the jug, Coyote put the stopper back in. He carried the jug on his back and went on toward his own country. When he had gone half way, he opened it again. This was at Owens River. 16 Old and homely people came out. A great many people came out. Then Coyote threw away the jug.
That is how men and women were made.
14 T. 8. did not know the source of these arrows, but supposed that the old woman had made them.
15 These are Shoshoni.
16 These are Northern Paiute.