Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Coyote Bringing Fire To The Red People

The Coyote Bringing Fire To The Red People [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

The Coyote Bringing Fire To The Red People [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

There was once a time when the Indians had no fire, but had to live on herbs, berries, plants and such other things as could be eaten raw. They did not eat fish or flesh, because they had no fire to cook with.

 When the cold winter came, the people could not keep warm, and asked the animal people for of their fire; but the animals had none to give.

The Coyote Bringing Fire To The Red People [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

The red people knew where fire was kept; but no man had ever dared go to the place where the Great Spirit had hidden it in a casket and had set two old hags on guard, so that man could not steal it.

Now it happened that man had been very kind to the coyote in his hour of need; so the coyote promised to bring the much-needed fire to man, and called together all the animals. He told them how he planned to get fire and asked if they would help him, and as all the animals were willing, he selected one of each kind, from the cougar down to the poor little frog.

“I will station you all along the trail, from the settlement of man to the distant home of the Great Spirit, where the hags guard the fire," said the coyote. "The frog, because he is weakest, shall he stationed nearest home, and so in turn each animal, until the cougar shall have his post nearest the fire — for you are stronger than the others, cougar. I will steal the fire and run with it to the cougar; he will take it and pass it on ; and each animal, in turn, will run his best, so that the old hags cannot get the fire away from him."

Then the coyote went to the Indian camp and took one of the red men with him. He placed him under a hill near the old hags' cabin, went to the door, and knocked.

One of the old hags opened the door, and the coyote said, "Good evening."

“Good evening," answered the old woman.

"It is a cold night. Will you not let me come in and sit by your fire? "

“Yes; come in," and the coyote went in and stretched himself before the fire. He reached his nose toward the warm blaze, sniffed the heat, and felt very comfortable. Then he stretched his head along his forepaws and pretended to sleep.

He kept the corner of one eye open to watch the hags; but, as they had been set by the Great Spirit to watch the fire, they never slept day or night. Thus the coyote's night of watching and thinking was all to no purpose; he might as well have slept.

Next morning he went out to the Indian whom he had hidden under the hill, and said : " I have not been successful ; the hags watch the fire all the time. I will go back again, and, when I am in the cabin, you must make a rush as if you were going to steal some fire, and then, while they are trying to keep you back, I will steal it."

That night the coyote went back again. He knocked, and when he asked to go in again the hags said he might; for they did not think a coyote could steal fire.

The Coyote Bringing Fire To The Red People [Red Folk And Wild Folk]

He stood close to the casket and, when the Indian made a great rush toward the cabin, the coyote seized a brand of fire in his teeth and ran out of the other door.

He skimmed over the ground; but the old hags saw the sparks flying and gave chase. They gained on him fast, and he was all out of breath, when he reached the cougar, who did not lose an instant, but ran to the next animal—the old hags always following, and each animal having very little time to spare before the hags came up.

Next to the last came the ground squirrel. He snatched the burning brand from the rabbit, just as the hags came up, and he almost flew along. He went so fast that his tail caught fire, and, as he held it curled over his hack to keep it out of his way, it burned a black spot behind his shoulders, which is there to this day.

He was almost out of breath and so tired he could not take another step, when he reached the frog. The hags were almost at his heels. The frog opened his mouth very wide, and the squirrel threw the fire into it. He swallowed it at a gulp and then turned to take a great jump, for the poor fellow could not run.

The hags were so close behind that they seized him by the tail and tweaked it off, for he was a tadpole then, and that is the reason frogs have no tails to this day.

The hags were sure of capturing their fire then; but, in the little moment they gave the frog, he jumped into the water and swam under it for a long time—as long as he could possibly hold his breath. Then he came up and spat the fire into a log of driftwood, where it has staid ever since.

After that when the Indians wanted fire they needed only to rub two sticks together, and the fire came forth.