The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
Index Previous Next
59. THE WATER SERPENT AND THE COYOTE. 1
Listen! The people were here living (Alíksai! Yáo yep yéshiwa). The Water Serpent (Bálölöokong) was living in Lânva, the Flute Spring, and a short distance towards the south at Ishmovala the Coyote was living. They were strong friends and often visited each other. They were still young, but the Water Serpent was already very long so that when he visited the Coyote and coiled up in his kiva he filled the entire kiva, leaving only a very small place for the Coyote, near the fireplace, where he had to sit in a crouched position. "I am going to be still larger," the Water Serpent said to him one time, "so you must enlarge your kiva." He then invited the Coyote to visit him once too, which the Coyote promised to do.
He meditated how he, too, could fill the kiva of the Water Serpent and said to the Snake: "I am going to become large and my tail will become long some day, too." While he said this the Snake was already slowly leaving the kiva, but he was so long that when the head was out already, a large part of the body was still in the kiva. After he had left, the Coyote said to himself: "Now, let me go and hunt something, too." In the evening he left the kiva and went to a place where a great deal of cedar grew. Here he pulled off a large bundle of cedar bark and carried it home. "How shall I make a tail now?" he said to himself. Soon he began to rub the cedar bark so as to make it pliable, and laying it out on the floor in a long line, wrapped it up with yucca leaves, which he had also brought with him. "But how shall I make this tail so that the Snake will not know, it?" he again asked himself, but soon formed a plan. He pulled out a lot of his hair and pasted it to the cedar bark so that it looked like a tail. This false tail he then fastened to his own tail.
In the morning when he had had his breakfast he went over to his friend, the Water Serpent. The latter had a larger kiva, so that there was sonic vacant space in it. When the Coyote had entered he kept going around the kiva dragging his long tail after him. Then he kept circling around until the kiva also was well filled, and he sat down by the head of the Water Serpent and they talked with one another. The Water Serpent smiled, thinking to himself: "Well. that tail did not used to be this way, how can that be?" After they had
talked together nearly all forenoon, the Coyote said he was going home to eat his dinner, and, uncoiling his long tail, he went up the ladder, saying to the Snake: "Now, whenever you feel that way, come and visit me too again sometime," which the Snake promised to do. As the Coyote went over to his kiva dragging his long tail after him, he looked around and smilingly said to himself, "Aha, he did not find out, because he did not say anything about my tail," When he came into his kiva he went around coiling up his tail, and then untied it from his natural tail.
By and by the Snake went over to visit his friend, the Coyote, again. The latter, who had been looking for this visit, had been very much concerned about it, fearing that his friend might all at once come when he had his tail detached from his natural tail, and so was always on the lookout. Hence he saw his friend coming, and had time enough to put his tail in order again, and when the Snake arrived at the kiva he was sitting at the fireplace, ready to receive his friend. The latter began to enter, but as he had been growing considerably since his last visit, and a part of the kiva was filled with the Coyote's tail, he did not find room enough for his whole body. "I have been growing since I have been here last, and cannot get into this kiva now." "All right, let me go out," the Coyote said, "and I can talk to you from the outside while you are in the kiva. You might get cold out there." So the Coyote went out, circled around a number of times outside the kiva, coiling up his tail, and then took a seat near the kiva opening, conversing with his friend, the Water Serpent. By and by he got cold and began to wish that his friend would go home, but the latter remained. The Coyote finally got very cold and began to be secretly angry at his friend because he tarried so long. At last the latter said: "Now I must go home and eat my dinner." The Snake had not yet entirely left the kiva when the Coyote, who was very cold, rushed in and warmed himself. He was out of humor about the matter, and made up his mind to try to get even with his friend. "I am going to pay him back," he said to himself. So, after he had eaten his dinner, he thought a great deal about the matter, and in the evening went to the timber again. He brought another armful of dry cedar bark and some yucca, and made another long addition to his tail in the same manner as before, only this time he made it considerably thicker. When it was done it filled his kiva entirely. He had so well covered it with hair and wool from his body that he thought nobody would know that it was not natural.
As the Snake had invited the Coyote at his last visit to visit him. too, sometime again, the Coyote planned to go over to his friend, but
thought he would wait until there was a cold day. As in about four days it became very cold, he concluded to pay his friend a visit. Coming over to the kiva of the Snake, the two exchanged the usual greeting, the Coyote saying, "How! (is) the friend at home?" (How! kwatch kátu?) ''Yes, I (am) at home. Come in." (Owé! Pai nu kátu. Paki!) Whereupon the Coyote entered the kiva, and kept circling around and around, filling the entire kiva with his tail. "Well!" the Snake said, "you are going to fill this whole kiva, so let me go outside and talk to you from there." Leaving the kiva, the Water Serpent kept going around outside for some time, coiling up in such a manner that finally the head was close to the entrance so that he could talk with his friend. It was very cold and the Coyote smilingly thought to himself while he was feeling very comfortable in the warm kiva, "Now you can freeze out there, too." The Snake became very cold and wished that his friend might leave, but he tarried. The Snake was shivering and became angry and wished very much that the Coyote might take his leave. Finally the latter said that he must now go home and eat his dinner, and while the Coyote was going up the ladder dragging his tail after him, the Water Serpent went in. Arriving at the fireplace the latter said, "I am going to get even with you. I am going to pay you back;" and grabbing a stick at the fireplace, he shoved the part of the Coyote's tail that was still in the kiva on the fire, so that it caught fire, saying: "You get out of this; you (referring to the Coyote) are always taking other people's things and are always doing something bad; you had better get away from here."
The Coyote had by this time gotten away quite a distance, and, looking around, he admired his long tail. When he had nearly reached his kiva he looked around again and then noticed some smoke and fire behind him, but as there was high grass around there at that time, he thought it was the grass burning. "Oh," he said, "the Hopi have set the grass on fire. They are after me and want to drive me away. Maybe they will kill me. I am not going to my house, but I am going to run away." So he began to run westward. Looking back he again noticed the grass burning at various places and thought he was pursued. He finally reached the timber and when he saw that burning after a while, he concluded that he would run to Little Colorado River (Báyupa) and jump in there. Then he thought the people would not find him. He did not 'yet know at this time that his tail was burning. Arriving at the river, which was very high, he jumped in and tried to swim across, but before he got across he became very tired. The river was drifting him along, and he finally
sank down and drowned. The Bálölöokong now lived in peace at the spring forever afterwards.
184:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).
Next: 60. The Coyote and the Bálölöokong (Water Serpent).