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The Southern Sierra Miwok Language (1964), by Sylvia M. Broadbent
14. Coyote and Water Ouzel (Pages 188-195)
14. Coyote and Water Ouzel
(Told by Chris Brown)
(1) Long ago Coyote was in the tules. (2) He went to sleep there in the
tules. (3) But a certain one called Mosquito came up to him and talked
about this sky above him. (4) "Mmmmmm," he said singing, the Mosquito.
(5) But that one, Coyote, hit himself on the face when something landed
on him, but he hit only himself and bothered himself, (6) so he gave up.
"What can I do about this? Maybe if I go to this open country there won't
be any mosquitoes there." (7) He came along the rocks and his feet just
wore out. His old feet were bleeding. (8) "Ay!" he said, "Ay!" With
nothing to eat he grew hungry and thin. (9) "Now, when I see something
to eat somewhere, I'm going to kill him and eat him," he said. (10) He
went towards the east. For days and days he did not find anything to
eat anywhere, and he could not do anything for himself; (11) his foot hurt,
he could not chase anything. (12) He looked forward to eating a jack-rabbit,
but he could not catch up with it. (13) He cried over his feet
and was sad. (14) Then he got to a little creek, as he kept on traveling,
and he saw a Crane standing up to his waist in the water, watching
for trout to eat. (15) "Hey, now I’ll eat," he said, filled with anticipation
when he saw this big one far off. (16) "I’ll keep wandering on," he said.
(17) Then he came up to him. (18) "Let me come up to him, let me talk
to him, just wait," he said. (19) He got there. (20) "Hey, what are you
doing so hard, you very big one here in the water, looking?" he said.
(21) "I'm looking at this one under you, so that the sky won't turn over
on us. (22) If I don't do this, if I don't watch it, if it falls it will kill
all of us, (23) so I'm watching this water here. (24) When it gets worse,
I'm going to run around and go and tell the people. 'Move away! The
sky is coming down on us,' is what I’ll say." (25) Then, "Maybe that's
true, you are a heavy man," he said, (26) "And you are standing here.
Maybe it's the truth that he said just now. (27) Let me stand here, and
you go and find me some food somewhere, I'm hungry." (28) "All right,"
he said, but the Crane knew what he wanted to eat. (29) He saw some
mushrooms, and his old belly was empty. (30) So he kept standing there
in the water holding the water down. (31) Then [Coyote] went on and
further down he arrived at a tree, and that certain one climbed it,
another hunter of fish. He got there, (32) and just watched him. (33)
"What are you doing? What is he looking down for?" he said. (34) Then
he asked, "What are you people doing in the creek? You are peering at
the same thing under you in the water," he said. (35) "This sky is going
to fall, and we are here watching for something bad to arrive," he said.
(36) "We will tell the people about it before he comes. (37) That's our
job. (38) I'm the one who peers over from high up, I can see a long
way from here," he said. (39) "But I am very hungry. Can I do something
for you while you go and get me something to eat? Maybe if you
give me a little food, maybe I can survive, but I ought to help you,"
(40) and he climbed the tree, that one went, he ran perhaps to get some
food. (41) He got up there and fell down. He got to the ground at the
bottom and climbed again. (42) "I'm going to try again," he said. (43)
He got to the same place halfway up again, it broke and he fell. (44)
That Coyote, being hungry, could not hold himself, he could not do anything.
(45) "What am I going to do? Maybe I won't come out," he said.
(46) [The bird] looked at the water from halfway up the tree. (47) "Maybe
they are telling me the truth," he said. "These ripples in the water,
maybe that's the truth. (48) I’ll just ask for food." (49) That one went.
After he went, after he ran away, after looking and looking, Coyote said,
"Maybe he is telling me a lie in what he said to me." (50) He went on
quietly. When he heard the leaves talking, (51) he ran back, he went to
climb the tree and peep out. "He didn't do anything yet," he said. (52)
He went on. The leaves talked. (53) When the leaves talked he ran and
returned to them. Little by little he went further and further till he got
there, where one was standing in the water. (54) "I'm going to eat that
one no matter what happens, I don't care what he does to me, I'm going
to eat him. I'm very hungry, I'm getting thin," he said. (55) He got
there. "What are you doing here? You are jumping so much on these
rocks and bouncing around. What are you going to do there under the
water? What are you peering around at from there? There, what is it
that you are kicking so much underneath all the time?" (56) "Oh, I have
a job watching the water, to tell the people when the sky falls, (57) so
I'm kicking these rocks down because I don't want it to come out on top.
I'm holding it down. Once in a while I go below. I go to bounce all
the way to that rock, (58) then I go under the water, going to look to
see if everything in the world is all right under the water. (59) Then
I come again, kicking these rocks, kicking them down because I don't
want them to come up." (60) Then again he was thinking, "Maybe it's
true that it's going to fall. I've got to do something. I’ll say that I'm
going to look, I'm going to walk around under the water looking at everything.
I can't do anything, I am so hungry. I would help you, you are
very small and very light to do that, to hold those rocks down. (61)
But I am heavy, I am a big person," he said. (62) So then, "If you do
that, if you help me, maybe I can go and get some food for the starving
ones. Where can I go to find it?" (63) So then, "Yes, please do that,
I'm dying of hunger, dying of hunger. I can't do anything." (64) "All
right, I'm going. Maybe I’ll have to get food, it's all gone here. I’ll go
and get it and bring it, and later let me feed you with it, if you do that,
if you take care of these rocks for me. (65) You will jump to this one from
here, all the way to the rock, and from that rock to here again, you will
dance around again. You will dance all the way over again, talking, saying
"Ee! Ee!," you will talk and talk, if you jump on the rocks, if you
dance. (66) Then if you stay longer, you will go there under the water,
going to look for this thing, if it does that to you, if the earth cracks
on you, say." (67) So he went, he flew down below, to look for that food.
(68) But this kept on going and told them there below, he told some of
them there, "This thing, this big one, he's going to eat us. Maybe he's
an ogre," he said as he went. "Look out for yourselves, watch for him
to come out, he will come out here. Try hard to be good to him, all of
you," he said. (69) Then all the little birds thought, "Maybe that's true,
he's getting rid of us, that one, he's going to eat us and get rid of us
people here," they said. (70) So he bounced around and looked forward
to [getting food]. He was so proud that he put on his flicker-feather
headband, and with his costume he arrived there and danced on top of
the rocks. Being vain, he tried to keep up, that Coyote bounced around
and bounced around. (71) "I'm going to peer at this country, at what's
wrong here under the water. Maybe we might fall down," he said. (72)
"I'm going anyhow, I'm going now here under the water, I'm going to
arrive somewhere, I’ll reach it," he just said. "I'm going a long way.
(73) But that one is thinking, that tiny one, the little bird, he's not going
far on top of the water, he's going to look," he said. (74) So high on
that rock he climbed and got set. He went high up, and came out on the
rock, but the water was shallow and he fell down there and broke his
nose and blacked his eyes. (75) "Maybe something did it to you when I
landed on it," he said when he came out. He clutched himself, but he
danced just the same holding his hand; he danced just the same, singing.
He was proud of the costumes and things that he hid and put on, (76)
saying, "Maybe he can help me." Then, "I'm going to try again," he said,
as his head got better and was not cut. (77) "Maybe I'd better try again,
maybe I can go to find it, maybe it can do something," he said. (78) He
jumped and went high up again, and came down. (79) Arriving at the
bottom, he burrowed under the sand and rocks and everything, starving
[?]. "What is he doing, maybe they treat me badly, poor old me," he
said. (80) "It seems that I was treated badly, I was treated even worse.
I'd better go, I'm only getting more hungry here doing this, I am only
keeping on playing with these rocks, and washing my hair in the water.
Maybe I'd better not stay very long, maybe I’ll get to something," he
said seeing that one, (81) who had not gone far. (82) "I'm going."
(83) He went up the hillside. (84) From the hill he jumped in the water
again. (85) He landed head first and was more cut up. (86) He went
over there again, and hearing something he ran. (87) "Let them be careless,
let them die," he said, getting angry with those people. He went
west. (88) "I'm going there now just the same, I don't care if I die on
the road," he said. (89) "I'm very tired from hunger. (90) Now they
aren't going to do that to me, they aren't going to treat me badly. (91)
Now if I see any of those birds I eat him, I swallow him, I don't care
whether the world comes down or not," he said. (92) He went to the
west, he did not see anything, he went a long way. (93) "What can I do?
Where can I go?" he said. (94) "I’ll go over the land, but this water
looks bad to me," he said. (95) He went over the land. (96) He walked
and walked through the rocks. He came upon a certain Water Ouzel,
(97) he came upon him there when he was shouting. "It's certainly a
very little thing," he said, "but what I'm going to do is eat him just the
same. I don't care anyway, let it fall down, all this rock below. (98)
When I swallow him I am going to run, I'm going a long way off again,"
he said. (99) "Maybe they lied to me, it seems," he said. (100) The
little one was running around saying "Ee! Ee!" (101) He went in the
holes in the rocks and came out the other side again. (102) "What are
you doing, you bird who are so small?" he said. (103) "All right, I'm
looking at these rocks, if these rocks do that, if they shake down, this
land will fall down and kill us all," said that little one. (104) "I really
ought to help you, but I can't do anything, I'm too big, maybe I can't go
through, I can't come out the way you come out." (105) "From here you
can only peer over, you can look around over there," he said. (106)
''But wait, closer, closer, come closer, closer, closer, tell me, say it
to me louder, make this talk easy for me," he said, (107) that Coyote to
the little one. "All right," he said. "From here just look at it, I'm
going over there. You can see all the way to there if these rocks are
all right," he said. (108) Then this one went, he flew to the other side.
(109) "I'm going, or he’ll eat me," this one said. "He’ll eat me." (110)
"I'm going to eat, I'm hungry." His eyes changed when he spoke, he
only looked up, he couldn't do anything, he just had his mouth open.
"Huh, huh, huh, huh," he just kept on saying. (111) He got there, he
caught him, he swallowed that little Ouzel, he ate him. (112) "Ah, but
now I have eaten! I have eaten now! Oh, my belly feels better," he said.
(113) He rubbed his belly. "Oh, but I have eaten now, oh, now I’ll come
out of it, I can go far, anywhere," he said. (114) But this old one a
little later came out again, outside of him. (115) He shouted in front of
him. "How did he do that to me? Where did he come out of me? He
came out." (116) He looked at his teeth, his teeth were all right.
(117) "I thought I swallowed him," he said. (118) "But now I'm going to
fix you." He caught him and swallowed that little bird, holding his rectum.
He put his hand over his rectum, but the bird came out through
his claws, through his feet. (119) He flew away and landed far off.
(120) "You are going to eat me, you want to treat me badly," he said.
(121) "But you can't get me," he said. (122) "Hey, I closed it off with
this hand of mine," he said, "But he came out of me." (123) Then that
old Coyote went away, he went any old way, he went somewhere north,
still hungry. (124) That's all of that.
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Previous: The Black Horse