The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
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58. THE COYOTE AND THE TURTLES. 1
A long time ago the Turtles lived in a river called Blue River (Sakwábayu), somewhere south-east of Winslow (Homólovi) . The Coyote was always hunting for something to eat. One time he was also hunting for food near the place where the Turtles lived. The latter would sometimes come out of the water and hunt cactus (yö'ngö) which they relished very much, and from which they have their name, Yöngö'sona (pl. Yöyö'ngösontu).
One of the Turtles had a little baby Turtle. One time when they were all going to hunt food again, the Turtle said: "I am not going to take my child with me, because it is sleeping so nicely. I am going to bring a cactus back with me and give it to my child." After they had left, the little Turtle awoke, and when it found nobody there it asked, "Where is my mother?" and began to cry, and at once came out of the water. Looking for the tracks, it found that they led to the bank and then way off somewhere. It followed the tracks for some distance, but could not find any one, and so cried very bitterly. The Coyote, hearing the cries of the little Turtle, at once hunted it up and when he found it he said: "What are you singing? You are singing something very nice. Sing again." "I am not singing," the little Turtle said, "but I am crying." "What are you crying for?" the Coyote asked. ''My mother has gone away and did not take me along," the Turtle replied, and continued to as follows:
Waoo, waoo, h-h-h-h (these h's spoken in quick succession while inhaling, to imitate the sobbing of a child that is sometimes heard in connection with or rather after a cry).
The Coyote again urged the Turtle to sing, as he called the crying, saying: "If you do not sing I am going to devour you." The little Turtle was very much afraid, but refused to comply with the request of the Coyote. The Coyote repeated his threat, saving, "I shall certainly devour you if you do not sing." The little Turtle, thinking of the subterfuge said: "All right, it will not hurt me; I will then simply live in Your body," The Coyote said to himself, "Maybe the Turtle
will continue to live in my body and move about there." And so he repeated his request, but this time changing his threat. "If you do not sing," he said, "I am going to throw you in that water there." "Don't do that, because if you do I shall drown," The Coyote did not know that the little Turtle lived in the water, and that he was being imposed upon. "All right," he said, "I shall not throw you in the water, but I shall devour you," and thereupon he took hold of the Turtle and ran towards the water. Arriving at the bank he slung the little Turtle away into the midst of the water.
"Aha! My house (Alí, Ikíningwu)," said the Turtle, and then dived into the water, but immediately came out again, saving, "Aha! My house. Thanks that you have brought me here (Alí, Ikíningwu! kwakwá, um nui pâk wíki)," and, swimming around on the water, laughed at the Coyote.
The Coyote was very angry and said: "Oh! that I did not devour you; but I am going to hunt your mother now, and if I find her somewhere, I shall certainly devour her," and thereupon ran away. Following the tracks of the Turtles, he met them on their way back to the water, They had been away quite a distance, had eaten there to their hearts' content, and were now returning. When the Coyote met them he said to the first one, "I am going to devour you," and tried to seize it. The Turtle immediately drew its head, feet and tail into the shell, and thus the Coyote, although he was working around it, throwing it over, pushing it backward and forward a long time, could not hurt it. He got very angry and jumped towards another one with the same result; so he tried others, but when he found that he could not hurt them, nor break their shell, he left them in disgust. When the Turtles arrived home, the Turtle mother gave a cactus to her child, saying: "This I brought for you," and the child ate it in great delight. "When did you awake?" the mother asked. "About half-way noon I woke up, and when I found that you were all gone I cried." "Yes," the mother said, "you were sleeping so nicely, and so I did not take you along." The little Turtle then related all about the Coyote, saying that the latter had threatened to devour it, but when he had been told that he could just do so, and that the little Turtle would then live in his body, he desisted. The Turtle mother laughed at it. The child then continued to relate how the Coyote had asked it to sing, and when refused he threatened to throw it into the water, and that he had done so, although the child had said that it would certainly drown; and the child continued, "When he threw me into the water I laughed at him and told him, 'Here I am living'; and so I got back without even getting tired."
The mother laughed at it and was very happy, saying: "Thanks that he brought you here, and that you got home even without becoming tired." And the Turtles are living there in that water still.
182:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).
Next: 59. The Water Serpent and the Coyote