The Race Around the World

Southeast of Santa Fe, sixty miles away, there is a little hill. It is just east of Estancia. There were an old man and an old woman living there who had two good-looking daughters. Some young men wanted to marry these girls, but the old people wouldn’t allow it. They didn’t like the men who wanted to become their sons-in-law. A number of young men were refused by them.

Twelve of the leaders of the people, the greatest men, met at a certain place. They talked about this matter and considered it carefully. They decided that the girls should be told to marry, even though their parents didn’t want them to do so. So they sent word to the parents.

The messenger met the old people. “Why do you not let those two girls get married? Twelve of the most prominent men have decided that those daughters of yours should be married regardless of your wishes.”

The old people said nothing.

The messenger said to them, “What’s the matter that you do not talk? You have mouths. You must speak.”

The old people said then, “Gather all the people who live under the sky. We are going to build a tipi to the east. Let all the people come over there, and from that place start to race around the world. The one who wins the race will get both our daughters.”

So on the appointed day all the people gathered around this tipi. Wood Rat was the first one there. Next came other animals who were slow runners. They came in all day long.

The next day some who were faster runners came. The third day those who could run still faster arrived. The evening of the third day Coyote came and started to run. The others had started to run as soon as they arrived and Coyote ran after them. On the morning of the fourth day Sandhill Crane, Cliff Swallow, Hawk, and Fox started.

They started running to the south. Shortly afterward they caught up with Rat, the one who had started first. His face was covered with dust. The four were still together.

These four were sorry for Rat. They asked, “Who will carry this one?”

Fox said, “I’ll carry him.” And he put him on his back.

Many were still ahead of these good runners. When they arrived at the north and headed for the east, however, Coyote was the only one ahead of them. These four fleet ones still ran together. They saw the tipi ahead of them. This was the finish line. Here they passed Coyote.

After they had passed Coyote, Sandhill Crane took Rat from his back and said, “Now run to that tipi and win. Hurry, for Coyote is coming behind.”

Rat ran over to that place as fast as he could. Coyote was coming behind and catching up. Rat ran around the tipi just a little ahead of Coyote.

Rat went in the tipi and stayed there four days with those two girls.

Four days passed and some people said to him, “Now go out.” It was the four who had helped him who told him to go out.

Then Fox went in, taking his place with the girls. Fox continued to live with these girls and they became his wives. That is why the men had two wives in the old days.

When Rat went out of the tipi all the people gave him gifts. That is why he always gathers everything together in his home and heaps sticks over it.

When Coyote lost the race he was very angry at Rat. “You didn’t do it fairly,” he said. He called Rat all kinds of names, but that didn’t help.

This story explains how the September 15th race started. After this the people were told by Killer-of-Enemies, Child-of-the-Water, and others to hold a race like this so that they would have enough to eat and would have long life.


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