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Coyote Creates

Human Beings

B a rry Lo pez with illustrations by Sam Watson

There are many versions of Coyote’s creation of man. This version was written by Barry Lopez and published in 1977 by Avon Books in a collection called Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping With His Daughter: Coyote Builds North America

One day, long before there were any people on the Earth, a monster came down from the North. He was a huge monster and he ate everything in sight.

He ate all the little animals, the chipmunks and the raccoons and the mice, and all the big animals. He ate the deer and the elk and even the mountain lion.

Coyote couldn’t find any of his friends any more and this made him very mad. He decided the time had come to stop the monster. Coyote went across the Snake river and tied himself to the highest peak in the Wallowa Mountains. Then he called out to the monster on the other side of the river. He challenged the monster to try and eat him.

The monster charged across the river and up into the mountains. He tried as hard as he could to suck Coyote off the mountain with his breath but it was no use. Coyote’s rope was too strong. This frightened the monster. He decided to make friends with Coyote and he invited coyote to come and stay with him for awhile.

One day Coyote told the monster he would like to see all of the animals in the monster’s belly. The monster agreed and let Coyote go in. When he went inside, Coyote saw that all the animals were safe. He told them to get ready to escape and set about his work.

With his fire starter he built a huge fire in the monster’s stomach. Then he took his knife and cut the monster’s heart down. The monster died a great death and all the animals escaped. Coyote was the last one out.

Coyote said that in honor of the event he was gong to create a new animal, a human being. Coyote cut the monster up in pieces and flung the pieces to the four winds. Where each piece landed, some in the North, some to the South, others to the East and West, in valleys and canyons and along the rivers, a tribe was born. It was in this way that all the tribes came to be.

Chemaku Yahuskin Blackfoot Wada Klikitat Lemhi Yakima Nespelem Kalispel Palus Kalapuya Umatilla

Hunipui Molala Flathead Crow Tenino Kutenai Spokane Coeur D’Alene Cayuse Bohogue

When he was finished, Coyote’s friend, Fox said that no tribe had been created on the spot where they stood. Coyote was sorry he had no more parts, but then he had an ides. He washed the blood from his hands with water and sprinkled the drops on the ground.

Coyote said, “Here on this ground I make the Nez Perce. They will be few in number, but they will be strong and pure.� And this is how the human beings came to be

Coyote Creates Human Beings