Cannibal Woman Chases Coyote

Told by Charley Anderson, 1954

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Told in English by Charley Anderson at Everson, Washington, in 1954. Reprinted in Skagit storyteller Vi Hilbert, "The Basket Ogresses chase Coyote," Haboo, Native American Stories from Puget Sound. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985, p. 8-9. Coyote is kind of a villain here, since he kills the children just because he can't understand them. But he does trick the Ogresses into leaving befor he quite starves to death hiding in a hole. In this story, you see one of the big problems caused by anthros inventing diacritically-marked letters for writing Native languages. I have no idea how to say the villain ogress's Indian name: ?@adus. Too, I think that's probably how the librarians' scanner rendered something different. So, in my own ear, I hear the word as Qeshadus. You'll have to make up your own sounding for it . . .

This Coyote was traveling, and he saw some children playing. Coyote asked them, "Whose children are you? What are your mother's and father's names?"

The children couldn't understand him. They couldn't speak. Their mouths just went mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmm.He couldn't understand these children, so he killed them and he went on away. Yeah.

?@adus. There were two sisters; they followed the tracks that were Coyote's. Pretty soon Coyote saw the ?@adus coming. He ran.

Then he came to a place. It was a rock by the beach, and there was a hole in it, way, way inside. The hole wasn't big enough for a big person to go in, but it was big enough for Coyote to crawl through. well, he stayed there.

He would peek out, and there were those two ?@adus right there, sitting on each side of the entry. He stayed inside. Well, he didn't know what to do now. He was hungry, and there was no water to drink. He was getting so bony. Just skin and bone now.

Well, he thought to himself, "I'll make believe that there are lots of people who live here. I'm going to holler to my neighbors across the river."

He hollered to his neighbors, "Oh, you, my friends, tomorrow we move down the river." After that he hollered and pretended that his friends were answring him from across the river. He kind of said, low, "Oh, all right. Yes." Yeah.

Well, those ?@adus gave up waiting for that coyote to come out. They found out that there are lots of people in there who are going to move down the river tomorrow.

Well, when coyote would move, all of his bones rattled. It sounded like dry poles (used for shades inside the house), and that's what the ?@adus thought. But it was Coyote's bones rattling.

Coyote went to the opening and peeked out. He saw that the ?@adus were gone now. They had given up. He was in there all by himself. He went out.

Oh, when he got out, he wished for a drink of water, He ran down to the water and Put his face down to drink. He saw something coming from under the water. It was a real tough-looking animal coming to bite him. He got scared and stepped back.

He was so thirsty. After a while he tried again. He went slow, slow, so he could get a drink of water.

He put his face close to that water, and he saw the animal coming from under the water, ready to bite him. He ran back again, he was so scared. Four times he did that; then he thought to himself, "I wonder if it is my shadow that I see under the water?" He went and drank, and he found out. "It's my shadow that looks so tough--just bones with teeth sticking out!" He had gone without food for such a long time.

He drank that water.

That is the end of the story.

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Page prepared by Paula Giese graphics and layout copyright 1996.

CREDITS: Story transcribed by Tacoma Public Library. I edited all the typos and spelling errors their scanner made, deleted false codes, and gave it a nice-looking layout here. The coyote was traced in FreeHand a long time ago from a book of designs; I don't think it's actually a Northwest Coast design, but have no idea what culture it came from.

Last Updated: Sunday, July 07, 1996 - 4:10:04 AM