Indian Legends of California and the Southwest

Week 13: Native American Tales - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Coyote and the Hare (Sia, New Mexico)

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.

In this story you will see that Coyote gets tricked by the Hare, who proves himself to be an excellent trickster as well.
One day Coyote was passing about when he saw Hare sitting before his house. Coyote thought, "In a minute I will catch you," and he sprang and caught Hare.

Hare cried, "Man Coyote, do not eat me. Wait just a minute; I have something to tell you - something you will be glad to hear - something you must hear."

"Well," said Coyote, "I will wait."

"Let me sit at the entrance of my house," said Hare. "Then I can talk to you."

Coyote allowed Hare to take his seat at the entrance.

Hare said, What are you thinking of, Coyote?

"Nothing," said Coyote.

"Listen, then," said Hare. "I am a hare and I am very much afraid of people. When they come carrying arrows, I am afraid of them. When they see me they aim their arrows at me and I am afraid, and oh! how I tremble!"

Hare began trembling violently until he saw Coyote a little off his guard, then he began to run. It took Coyote a minute to think and then he ran after Hare, but always a little behind. Hare raced away and soon entered a house, just in time to escape Coyote. Coyote tried to enter the house but found it was hard stone. He became very angry.

Coyote cried, "I was very stupid! Why did I allow this Hare to fool me? I must have him. But this house is so strong, how can I open it?"

Coyote began to work, but after a while he said to himself, "The stone is so strong I cannot open it."

Presently Hare called, "Man Coyote, how are you going to kill me?"

"I know how," said Coyote. "I will kill you with fire."

"Where is the wood?" asked Hare, for he knew there was no wood at his house.

"I will bring grass," said Coyote, "and set fire to it. The fire will enter your house and kill you."

"Oh," said Hare, "but the grass is mine. It is my food; it will not kill me. It is my friend. The grass will not kill me."

"Then," said Coyote, "I will bring all the trees of the wood and set fire to them."

"All the trees know me," said Hare. "They are my friends. They will not kill me. They are my food." Coyote thought a minute. Then he said, "I will bring the gum of the pinon and set fire to that."

Hare said, "Now I am afraid. I do not eat that. It is not my friend."

Coyote rejoiced that he had thought of a plan for getting the hare. He hurried and brought all the gum he could carry and placed it at the door of Hare's house and set fire to it. In a short time the gum boiled like hot grease, and Hare cried, "Now I know I shall die! What shall I do?" Yet all the time he knew what he would do.

But Coyote was glad Hare was afraid. After a while Hare called, "The fire is entering my house," and Coyote answered, "'Blow it out!"

But Coyote drew nearer and blew with all his might to blow the flame into Hare's house

Hare cried, "You are so close you are blowing the fire on me and I will soon be burned."

Coyote was so happy that he drew closer and blew harder, and drew still closer so that his face was very close to Hare's face. Then Hare suddenly threw the boiling gum into Coyote's face and escaped from his house.

It took Coyote a long time to remove the gum from his face, and he felt very sorrowful. He said, "I am very, very stupid."

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did Hare manage to run away from Coyote?
  • how did Coyote try to kill Hare?
  • what happened to Coyote in the end?

Source: Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest. Compiled and Edited by Katharine Berry Judson. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1912. Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM