Sunday, September 25, 2011

Skunk Outwits Coyote

a Native American Tale

told by Cornerstoregoddess


One day Coyote was out walking, feeling  hungry, when he met up with Skunk. "Hello, brother," said Coyote. "You look hungry and I'm quite hungry, too. If I lead the way, will you join me in a trick to get us something to eat?" 

"I'd be happy to join you," answered  Skunk. "There's a  prairie dog village just over that hill.  Why don't you go down there and play dead?  I'll wait a while, and talk to the prairie dogs and say,  'Why don't we dance on the dead body of our enemy?'"

This sounded like a foolish idea to Skunk.  How could one get anything to eat by playing dead and dancing.  "Why should I do this?" he asked.

"Stop stalling," insisted Coyote.  "Puff yourself up and play dead."

 Skunk sighed, but did as Coyote asked.  He went to the prairie dog village, clutched his heart, and pretended to fall over dead.

A while later, along came Coyote.  He saw several Prairie Dogs playing outside their holes, keeping a good distance away from Skunk.

"Oh, look!" said Coyote. "Our enemy is dead on the ground.  Let's dance to celebrate.  Call everyone from their burrow holes, and be sure to stop up the doors behind them."

The foolish prairie dogs did as he said. "Now," said Coyote, "we must all stand in a big circle and dance with our eyes closed. If anyone opens his eyes to look, he will immediately turn into something very bad." 

The Prairie Dogs, not being the brightest of creatures, began to dance with their eyes closed.  Quickly Coyote killed one.

Then he called out, "Everyone open your eyes!"  The Prairie Dogs opened their ees and were horrified to see one of their own lying dead on the ground.

"Oh, dear," said Coyote, "Look at your poor brother. He opened his eyes and died. Quickly, all of you!  Close your eyes and dance again.  Don't look, or you'll die, too!"

Again they began to dance.  One by one, Coyote drew them out of the dance circle and killed them. At last, one of the Prairie Dogs became suspicious.  He opened his eyes, and when he saw what was happening, he called out, "Coyote is killing us!"

At his warning, all the survivors raced to their homes, trying to unstop the holes.

Skunk stood up, laughing at how easily Coyote had tricked them.  He helped Coyote gather firewood.  Together they began to roast the Prairie Dogs that Coyote had killed.

The meal smelled so good that Coyote decided he would rather eat it all himself, so he turned to Skunk and made a suggestion.  "Let us run a race," he said.  "The winner shall have first pick of the most delicious Prairie Dog."

But Skunk shook his head.  "You are too fast," he said.  "I am a slow runner, and would never be able to overtake you."

"No problem" said Coyote.  "I shall tie a rock to my foot."

"All right," said Skunk.  "If you tie a rock to your foot, I will race you."

The two decided that he base of the hill would be their race course.  "Why don't you get a head start while I tie this rock to my foot," suggested Coyote.  

Skunk began to run.  Soon he was around the hill and out of sight.  Coyote tied a rock to his foot and started after him, slowly at first.  But soon he kicked the rock loose and sped up.

Skunk, however, had found a pile of brush along the course.  He ran there and hid.

As soon as he saw Coyote race past, he turned back and went straight to the cooking fire.  He raked all the roasted prairie dogs out of the coals, except for two small bony ones that he did not want. Then he cut off the tails and stuck them back in the ashes, and carried the meat away to the brush pile. 

Coyote, meanwhile, was loping along, sure that Skunk was just ahead around the next bend.  He was a bit puzzled, however.  He didn't know that Skunk could run so fast.

Soon he circled back to the cooking fire, where he saw the tails sticking out.  He seized one and tasted it.  "This is delicious!" said Coyote.  He took another.

But then he started to suspect that something was wrong.  Taking a stick, Coyote raked through the coals, but all he found were two bony overcooked Prairie Dogs.

"Someone has stolen our meat," he said, as he ate the two tasteless Prairie Dogs.

Skunk, meanwhile, had feasted delicious Prairie Dog.  He crept to the top of the hill and looked down at Coyote.

Coyote began to search everywhere, trying to find who had stolen his meat.  As Coyote searched, Skunk threw some prairie dog bones down on him. Coyote looked up and saw him.  "You took all the delicious prairie dogs!" he roared. "Give some of them to me!"

"No," Skunk answered. "We ran a race for them and. I beat you so I'm going to eat all of them."

Coyote begged and begged for some of the delicious prairie dogs, but while he was still pleading, Skunk swallowed the last bite... because Skunk was a better trickster than Coyote.

Coyote and skunk charms can be found here and here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I am so glad the little skunk did not become coyote's dinner. Silly little skunk though because a coyote is still a coyote. Good lesson thanks. Oh and adorable charms!