Coyote Dances with the Prairie Dogs

Coyote went back to his home. From there he went to Prairie-dog Town. He had some red cloth and he put this on a stick and marched around with it held up, saying, “Let all of you circle around here.” Then they all came.

Codi held a stone in the palm of his right hand. In his left hand he held the pole. He said to them, “You must all shut your doors tightly, for while we are dancing someone might steal your property.”

The prairie-dogs all ran home. Quickly they shut their doors tightly and came back.

The dance started. Coyote began to sing. He sang, “Let the large prairie-dogs come near to me. Let the small ones form behind them.”

When a big prairie-dog approached him, he hit it with a stone. That prairie-dog would fall down dead.

Some cried out with alarm. But Coyote said, “That is nothing. They are just unconscious from joy and celebration. When the sun goes down they will all get up again.”

The last prairie-dog to come out was a puny one. He was being carried on the back of his brother who was dancing in the rear. He caught sight of the rock in Coyote’s hand.

He called out, “Coyote has a stone in his hand!”

Everybody started to run. Coyote started to run after them too. They ran for their homes with Codi after them killing them. A few escaped, but Codi killed most of them. He killed that little one who told on him too.

Codi went around collecting the dead prairie-dogs. He collected them in one pile. He carried them to a place where there was wood. He built a big fire and waited till he had a large pile of hot ashes. Then he opened them up. He put the prairie-dogs in the ashes in a straight line with only the tails sticking out. That smallest prairie-dog he put at one end.

This was in the morning. It was hot and he had been working hard. So he went to some shade and took a nap.

While he vas sleeping Wildcat came along. He saw Coyote sleeping. He smelled cooking meat. He tip-toed around. He took all the prairie-dogs out, all except that small one at the end, which he left. He cut all the tails off and arranged them in a row just as they had looked before, sticking out of the ashes. He ate all the meat, for it was well roasted.

A few were still left and these he put up on the branch of a tree. It was hot weather and, since he had had such a good dinner, he went to sleep too.

Coyote woke up. He had been sleeping in the shade, but it was all sunny at that place now, and it woke him up. He stretched himself. There was a little pool of water near the place where he had buried the prairie-dogs in the ashes. He talked to himself: “I guess by this time that meat is done,” he said.

He went over to the ashes. He pulled the tail of the first one. It was the tail of the small prairie-dog.

“Oh, that is a small one,” he said. “I don’t care for this; it’s in my way,” and he hurled it into the air without watching where it went. It landed on the branch of a tree.

He began to pull at the other tails. They came out of the ashes easily, but the bodies were not attached.

“Oh, I have burned the tails off,” he said. He went down the whole line. All of them were the same.

He ran and got a poker and began raking the ashes. He couldn’t find anything. Then he began to look for the one he had thrown away. He looked and looked, but he couldn’t find it.

He gave up and sat at the bank of the pool, in the shade. Then he noticed the form of a prairie-dog in the water. He jumped into the water at once. But he couldn’t find it down there. He got up and watched the water till it steadied again. He saw the prairie-dog again when the water cleared. Three times he did this. Then he gave up and lay down in the shade.

He was lying face upward. There he saw the prairie-dog up in the tree. He jumped up and got it. He ate it, bones and all, he was so hungry.

Then he called his name. He said, “I guess Codi took all my prairie-dogs.”

He started to look for the tracks of the one who had taken the prairie-dogs. He finally found Wildcat. Wildcat was sound asleep.

Coyote took out the rectum of the wildcat and started to roast it over a fire. He picked it up with a pointed stick. Then he woke up Wildcat.

“Codi,” he called, “you must get up and eat. The people came with meat. This gut was all they gave me and I saved it for you.” Wildcat got up. He started to chew the meat. He had eaten all but a little of it when Coyote said, “Codi is eating his own rectum!”

Then Wildcat quickly took the remaining piece and thrust it back in place. That is why Wildcat has a short tail, for in his haste and excitement he pushed back part of his tail. Before this Wildcat had a long tail. Before Coyote woke up Wildcat, he pushed his face together and made it as it is now.


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