Coyote and His Mother-in-Law

Finally Coyote got out of the water. He was cold and tired. He went to the oak trees and lay down among the dead leaves. He stayed there over night, for he was too wet to go out.

The next day he went home. That day his mother-in-law came over to visit with his wife.

Coyote saw that his mother-in-law had a big bottom. He thought, “She is better than my wife.” He tried to think of some plan by which he could have intercourse with her.

He went out and chased a rabbit towards his home. He chased it into a brushy place, and it was right in the corner there. He crawled in after it, but he couldn’t reach it; his arm was too short. He went over and spoke to his wife. His wife did not have long arms, but her mother did.

So Coyote said, “Tell your mother that she can get that rabbit, for she has long arms.”

So his wife went over to her mother and said, “My husband wants you to reach a rabbit under some brush. He can’t reach it, but you have a long arm.”

The mother said she would do it and started for the place. Coyote said to his wife, “You stay here and watch your food so that it won’t burn. And watch your mother’s camp too so that no one goes over there in her absence.”

Then he left and ran to the place. The old woman had just got there and had crawled in that narrow, bushy place. Her head and her body down to the hips were in there, and her buttocks were sticking out. She couldn’t look behind her, for it was a narrow place.

So Coyote came up quickly and had intercourse with her from behind. He did it hurriedly and then ran off before the old lady could get out and see who it was.

The old lady got the rabbit and went home. She called her daughter then and told what someone had done to her.

The two women went to that place and looked at the tracks. They measured them with a stick. They tracked the person and saw the tracks lead to the other side and then to Coyote’s house.

Coyote was in there singing and happy as though he had done nothing. Then his wife came in with the stick and tried to measure Coyote’s foot as he lay there.

“What are you doing?” he asked. “Get away. Don’t measure my foot.”

Then his wife asked, “Did you go over where my mother was and have intercourse with her?”

“No, she’s my mother-in-law. I wouldn’t do such a thing!” he said. “If you talk like that about me, perhaps the bears will run after me sometime when I am in the mountains. If you say such things, Bear won’t pay any attention when I say, ‘My mother-in- law, don’t look at me.’” [Since the mother-in-law was avoided, a man who met a bear in the mountains addressed the bear as his mother-in-law. The bear was expected to become very ashamed at meeting one who called it by an avoidance-term and to run away.]

So Coyote stayed at his camp for a few days. And then he became blind. [A film (cataracts) over the eyes and ultimate blindness are the putative penalties attached to purposely facing or becoming intimate with one who stands in an avoidance-relationship to a Jicarilla.] Then his children had to lead him wherever he wanted to go.

He went over where Jack-rabbit was, for Jack-rabbit makes eyes for people. He was led to Jack-rabbit’s home. He asked Jack-rabbit to help him.

Jack-rabbit asked, “What did you do to make your eyes like this?”

“I slept right in the sunshine with my head up and my eyes were all burned. I want you to help me.”

Jack-rabbit looked for a stick and then opened Coyote’s lids with it. There was something covering Coyote’s eyes. Jack-rabbit took it away from one eye and then from the other.

“Can you see all right now?”

“Yes, my eyes are all right now.”

“You must not sleep in the sunshine.”

Now Coyote could see once more.


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