Coyote And The Rattlesnake

: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest

Sia (New Mexico)

Coyote's house was not far from Rattlesnake's home. One morning when

they were out walking together, Coyote said to Rattlesnake,

"To-morrow come to my house."

In the morning Rattlesnake went to Coyote's house. He moved slowly along

the floor, shaking his rattle. Coyote sat at one side, very much

frightened. The movements of the snake and the rattle frightened h

Coyote had a pot of rabbit meat on the fire, which he placed in front of

the snake, saying,

"Companion, eat."

"I will not eat your meat. I do not understand your food," said


"What food do you eat?"

"I eat the yellow flowers of the corn."

Coyote at once began to search for the yellow corn flowers. When he

found some, Rattlesnake said,

"Put some on top of my head so that I may eat it."

Coyote stood as far off as he could and placed the pollen on the snake's


The snake said, "Come nearer and put enough on my head so that I may

find it."

Coyote was very much afraid, but after a while he came nearer and did as

he was told.

Then the snake went away, saying,

"Companion, to-morrow you come to my house."

"All right," said Coyote. To-morrow I will come."

Coyote sat down and thought about the morrow. He thought a good deal

about what the snake might do. So he made a small rattle by placing tiny

pebbles in a gourd and fastened it to the end of his tail. He shook it a

while and was much pleased with it.

The next morning he started for the snake's house. He shook the rattle

on the end of his tail and smiled, and said to himself,

"This is good. When I go into Rattlesnake's house, he will be very much

afraid of me."

Coyote did not walk into Snake's house, but moved like a snake. But

Coyote could not shake his rattle as the snake shook his. He had to hold

it in his hand. But when he shook his rattle, the snake seemed much

afraid, and said,

"Companion, I am afraid of you."

Now Rattlesnake had a stew of rats on the fire, and he placed some

before Coyote. But Coyote said,

"I do not understand your food. I cannot eat it because I do not

understand it."

Rattlesnake insisted upon his eating, but Coyote refused. He said,

"If you put some of the flower of the corn on my head, I will eat. I

understand that food."

The snake took some corn pollen, but he pretended to be afraid of Coyote

and stood off some distance. Coyote said,

"Come nearer and place it on top my head."

Snake replied, "I am afraid of you."

Coyote said, "Come nearer. I am not bad."

Then the snake came closer and put the pollen on top of Coyote's head.

But Coyote did not have the long tongue of the snake and he could not

get the pollen off the top of his head. He put out his tongue first on

one side of his nose and then on the other, but he could only reach to

the side of his nose. His efforts made the snake laugh, but the snake

put his hand over his mouth so Coyote should not see him laugh. Really,

the snake hid his head in his body.

At last Coyote went home. As he left the snake's house, he held his tail

in his hand and shook the rattle.

Snake cried, "Oh, companion! I am so afraid of you!" but really the

snake shook with laughter.

When Coyote reached his home he said to himself,

"I was such a fool. Rattlesnake had much food to eat and I would not

take it. Now I am very hungry."

Then he went out in search of food.