Western Shoshoni Myths:
Coyote and the Bear Cubs; The Death of Wolf
One day Wolf said to his brother, Coyote. "I would like some seeds. I like them better than meat. Go to your aunt's place and get some for me." Coyote said, "We have no relatives." Wolf said, "Yes; we have. You go over there and see."
Coyote went out to find the seeds and met two girl cousins, two bear cubs. They looked like twins. They were gathering seeds. Coyote talked to them for a little while. Then he choked both of them; they died. 36 He laid them side by side and covered them up with a rabbit-skin blanket. Then he started to gather seeds.
About sundown, Coyote's aunt, Bear, came to where the girls were. She was carrying seeds. She said, "What are you doing there, sleeping at this time?" She walked over to them, and pushed and pinched them, trying to wake them up. When they didn't move she looked under the blanket and saw that they were dead. This made her angry. She ran to Coyote and clawed all the meat off his back with her fingers. Coyote howled, "Wheeeeee." Then he ran away.
Coyote covered his back with a blanket and went home without his seeds.
When he arrived at his home, Wolf asked for the seeds. Coyote said, "I did not see any." Wolf, who knew everything, said "Yes, you did. Why do you cover your back? I know you killed those girls and your aunt clawed you." Coyote admitted that this was so.
Wolf wished Coyote asleep. He had this power. Wolf then went out hunting and killed a very small fawn. He cut the meat off its back in thin strips. It was very smooth and tender. When he got home, Coyote was still curled up asleep. Wolf slipped Coyote's blanket off and mended his back with the fawn's back muscles. He made it smooth, just like new.
In the morning, Coyote stretched himself and felt his back. He said, "My back meat has returned. Last night it was gone and there were just bones back there, but now it has come back. It is fine and smooth!"
Wolf said to Coyote, "Now you be good. You are always fooling me. Don't go back and bother your aunt. But, if you do, be sure to skin her and cut up all the meat and bring it home. Don't leave any of it."
Coyote said he would not go back, but he went nevertheless. He met Bear and cut her throat. He skinned her and cut up all the meat and wrapped it in the skin, but he forgot a piece of tripe. On the way home he remembered the tripe, and what Wolf had said about bringing all the meat home, so he went back for it. The Tripe had moved to the north. Coyote chased it but could not catch it. He asked, "What are you doing?" Tripe said, "I am well now. I am going to tell my people what you have done to my daughters." Coyote said, "Go ahead. I am glad."
When Coyote returned to the camp with the meat, he told Wolf he had brought it all home. Wolf said, "No you didn't. You had better watch out. When you see your people, you will find out why." Coyote said, "There are no people here. What is the matter?" Wolf only said, "In a few days you will see."
In a few days Wolf said to Coyote, "Stand away from the fire and look to the north." Coyote said, "Why should I? It is cold." But he looked, and in the north there was a crowd of people. They looked black in the distance. There was lightning. Finally Coyote said, "It looks like people coming closer. I can see arms and legs. You look, Wolf." Wolf would not look, but he said to Coyote, "You had better pack everything, and move away." Coyote said, "Why should I move?"
Wolf went out to see the people coming. The men in the crowd shot Wolf and he died. Then they skinned him, and taking the skin with them they went back to the north. Coyote was afraid, but he followed their tracks until he came to a big camp. The people had made things ready for a circle dance around a fire.
Coyote didn't dare go into the camp, but stayed on the outside, watching them. An old woman came up to him there and said, "Maybe you are Coyote." Coyote said "What is this Coyote?" The old woman said, "He lives at Tin Mountain (i. e., Charleston Peak), Coyote said, "What is he, a bad Indian?" She said, "I think you must be Coyote." He said, "I come from the north, but my grandfather told me about Coyote's brother, Wolf, who lives on Tin Mountain. Have you ever heard of him?" The old woman said, "Yes, my son has killed Wolf. My people have Wolf's hide. At sundown we will dance all night." The old woman then told Coyote that during the dance she tended the children of the dancers. She gathered them all around her and covered them all up with Wolf's hide. She said that was why she was crying. She told him that during the night
while the children slept she, too, could dance a little, but in the morning the children would cry, "Mama, mama, come and take care of me."
When Coyote heard this, he had an idea. He killed the old woman. He beat her and beat her and broke all her bones. He then made a little opening in her skin and pulled all the bones out and made a sack. He climbed into this sack and looked just like the old woman. He took her stick and hobbled into the camp. The children all cried, "Grandma is coming." After sundown, the people all said, "Mama, look after the babies while we dance."
While the people were dancing, Coyote quietly choked the children to death. He held their noses, and choked them. The people thought the children were asleep and they asked him to dance. Coyote said, "All right." Then he jumped out of the old woman's skin and put on Wolf's hide. He ran out of the house shouting, "I am the man you killed," and then fled from the camp.
The people followed him, but he ran, ran, ran, ran, and finally came to a wooded mountain. Here the people lost the track and returned home. Coyote walked back to the place where Wolf had been killed. Wolf's carcass was all dried up and stiff like wood. Very carefully, he fitted Wolf's skin over the carcass.
In the morning he went out to look and saw that the nose had moved a little and was slightly wet. The next morning Coyote was awakened by hearing Wolf howl. He got up to look, but found that Wolf had gone to the northeast. Wolf was alive but he was very angry.
He left Tin Mountain and never came back. That is why there are no wolves or bears on Tin Mountain now.
36 M. S. intimated that the girls rebuffed Coyote's amorous advances, which caused him to kill them.