Parthenon, Acropolis

The following was taken from The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi by Hattie Greene Lockett at Project Gutenberg, which is in the public domain.

The Coyote and the Water Plume Snake, by Dawavantsie

Once upon a time a Coyote and a Water Plume Snake got acquainted. One day the Coyote invited his friend, the big snake, to come and visit him at his house. The Snake was pleased to be invited, so he went that very night.

The Coyote was at home waiting, and when his guest arrived, he told him to come right in. So the Snake started in, first his head, then his long body, and more and more of him kept coming in, so that the Coyote had to keep crowding over against the wall to make room. By the time the Snake was in, tail and all, the Coyote had to go up and stay outside, for his visitor took up all the room in his house.

Now the Coyote could still put his head close to his door and visit with the Snake, so that they had a very good visit. But that night was pretty cold, and after while the Coyote was so cold he got cross and wished the Snake would go home.

Well, by and by, the Snake said he must go home now, so he said goodnight and invited the Coyote to come over to his house the next night.

The Coyote said he would be sure to come over, then he went into his house and sat by the fire and got warm and made plans how he would get even with that big Water Plume Snake.

Well, next day he went and gathered a lot of cedar bark and some corn husks and some pine gum, and he made himself a great long tail and put lots of wool and some of his hair on the outside, so that it was a very big tail and long, too.

So when evening came, he waited for it to get dark, then he started for the kiva of the big Snake.

When he got there his friend was waiting and had a nice fire and received him with good welcome and told him to come right in and get warm.

Now the Water Plume Snake was sure surprised when the Coyote got in and kept going round and round, pulling his long tail after him, and being wise he saw just what was going on, and now he knows the Coyote is making fun of him. So he just says nothing and makes room enough for the Coyote by going outdoors himself.

So the Snake just put his head in and was very nice and polite and they have a good visit. But the Snake got very cold and still the Coyote will not go home and the Snake is nearly freezing.

At last the Coyote says he have to go and the Snake is pretty cold and pretty mad, too. So he says good night to the Coyote and crawls right down into his house quick as the Coyote's body is out, and when he sees all that big tail rolling out he just holds the end of it over the fireplace and gets it burning.

But the Coyote is very pleased with himself and he don't look back but just goes right along. After a while he notices a fire behind him and turns around and sees the grass is burning way back there. So he says to himself, 'Well I better not go into my house for the Hopi have set fire to the grass to drive me away, and I'll just go on, so they won't find me at home.'

But soon the fire got going fast in that cedar bark and before he can get that tail untied he is burned so bad that he just keeps running till he gets to Bayupa (Little Colorado River). There was a great flood going down the river and he was so weak from running that he could not swim, so he drowned. And that is what he got for trying to get even with somebody.

HUM 2130 World Mythology