Coyote Visits the Red Ants

Then Coyote went to the fields. He came to the ants. He sat and watched them. They were scurrying all over. Some went far away, but they did not lose their way. They came back after a while. Coyote thought it peculiar.

He said to the ants, “You are a small people, yet you never lose your way. How is that? You must teach me what you know so that when I go away from my family I shall not get lost but will be able to go straight back to my home.”

The ants told him, “If you want to learn this you must not step on us whenever you are going along.”

Coyote asked, “What are you doing? I see you people run to a place and then come back. I see you carrying little stones and sticks to your hole. I don’t know why you do that. There must be someone in there who tells you to do it. Can you let me go down and see?”

The ants told him, “There is not room enough for you. You’d better stay away. And it’s too dark down there. If you go in there, some other ants might bite you.”

Coyote said, “Oh, I’m not afraid. You are small. Even if you bite me it won’t hurt. Come on, bite me. My body is all tough.” He let his tongue stick out for the ants. “My tongue is tender; bite it,” he said.

“You’ll swallow us when we get on your tongue.”

“No, you can get on my lips. Get on the edge of my lips.” The ant said, “All right.” He got up and bit Coyote on the tongue.

Coyote put his hand up and scratched at the ant. Then he jumped and kicked and ran away. The ants were all around and he was afraid he would be bitten again. It was the red ants [i.e., ‘fire’ ants] that he had visited.


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