Coyote and the Woman

Indian fishing at Spokane Falls

Spokane Falls, Washington Territory - Heinemann

As Told By Lawrence Aripa, Coeur d'Alene

One time,..
       a long time ago,...
               the Coyote .. was out enjoying himself,..
                     and he was..running up the Spokane River,..
                            really having fun..
He was running in the .. sand
       on the rocks,
             and just enjoying himself,
                      really having a good time...

And all of a sudden .. he stops, ..
       and he sees a camp...
And there are tipis
       and smoke
               and people all over ..

And he looked, ..
       and on the shore .. there was a group of .. people ..
Some were fishing
Some were cleaning fish ..
And he watched.
And as he watched,
       he saw them,
               really busy
                     cleaning a lot of fish
They were preparing for the winter.
So they had a lot of fish that they were cleaning ..


And as they cleaned
       there was .. on young lady .. that stood out ..
The Coyote kept looking at her.
And as he looked he says,
                              "Oh my gosh .. that is the most beautiful creature that I have ever seen!" ..
And as he watches,..
       the other women and the mean .. are all singing.
They are singing because they are happy that they have enough fish .. for the winter...
They come here every year to fish
        and get a lot of fish for the winter ...
And so they were happy,
        as they sang,
                and as they worked ...

And the Coyote,
      he couldn't keep his eyes off this beautiful creature ...
He kept watching her,
       her movements were something .. were something to look at.
And he just kept watching her,
       and watching.

And finally he couldn't stand it anymore ...
So he runs into the camp,..
        and asks for the chief ...
And he tells the chief, ..
       "I have seen the most beautiful woman that I have ever .. set my eyes on, ..
             and I want her ...
        I want her to be mine forever!" ..
The chief looked at him with a surprised look
        and he started to laugh ...
And then .. the Coyote says,
      "What are you laughing at?
       What is so funny?" ..
The chief says,
      "You are a coyote!
              You are not human ...
       You can't take care of a human being.
       You are only a coyote!" ..
And the Coyote says,
      "Well, .. what I can do is
              I can .. dance
                      and I can pray
                              and the Great Animal Spirit .. will change me ...
        He will change me into a handsome .. man."
But the chief says
      "No-o-ho .. no-o!"
He says, ..
         "You know,
                  I know,
                          and my daughter knows, ..
                                  that you are a coyote ...
          You'll always be a coyote.
                    And .. no that can't happen!"
So he says,
          "No,
                  you get out.
            Leave this camp.
                      Don't bother us." ..

So they Coyote left the camp.
But he was angry ...
And he says,
         "I have to have that woman.
                   I have to have her." ..
He says,
         "I will get the help from another tribe." ..

So he goes to the Kalispel ...
And he tells the kalispel, ..
         "You people .. you fish on the river, ..
                  and you get salmon."
And the Kalispel chief says,
        "Yes we do.
         We go there
                 and we join the .. Spokanes,
                          and the Coeur d'Alenes,
                 and we all get salmon
                 There is enough salmon for everybody."
And the Coyote says
            "Well, .. I wan to ask a favor ...
            I will bring you more salmon if you will help me.
            Go and talk to the Coeur d'Alene chief, ..
                    and tell him to let me have his daughter,
                            let me have that beautiful creature."
And the Kalispel chief started to laugh.
He laughed and laughed.
And the Coyote says
       "What are you laughing about?" ..
And he says
        "You are a coyote!
                 You can't marry a human!"
And the Coyote says
        "I will change myself to a handsome .. man!"
And then the Kalispel chief says, ..
        "Well I will know that you are a coyote.
                 You'll always be a coyote.
          No, .. I won't help you."

So he goes to the Spokane tribe ...
And he tells the Spokane chief,
        "You fish out of the same river as the Kalispel
                 and the Coeur d'Alene ...
         You get a lot of salmon ...
         If you will help me
                I will get your more salmon!" ..
And so the chief says
            "Well how can you do that?"
And he says
            "I have the power,
                     and I can do it." ..
And he says
        "All I wany tou to do is help me." ..
And the Spokane chief says
        "What is it you want?" ..
He says
        "I want that woman.
         I want that beautiful woman as my mate." ..
And the Spokane chief .. began to laugh ..
He laughed and laughed.
And the Coyote got angry.

And the other .. people from the council came in.
And the Spokane chief told them what the Coyote had said,
        and they started to laugh.
They laugh and laugh.
And he left the camp while they were still laughing ...

And so .. he says
        "I will teach them.
                I will teach them a lesson ..
          They can't laught at me."
He says
       "That isn't right.
        But I'm going to have that woman." ..

So he goes
        and he starts praying
                 and he dances
                         and then .. he asks for the Great Animal Spirit ..
All of a sudden the Animal Spirit appears,
        and he says
               "Yes, .. what is it?" ..
And the Coyote says, ..
         "You owe me a favor, ..
                   and I am asking for it now." ..
And so .. the Animal Spirit says
        "What is it?" ..
He says
         "I want your to give me .. the power of strength ...
          I want to be strong,
                  and be able to .. move about .. in the air
                           and everything." ..
And so the Animal Spirit didn't know what it was for.
So he says
         "Yes, .. you can." ..

And so .. the Coyote ... went to the rocks
          he went to the mountains
He got big rocks, ..
        he got mud, ..
                dirt, ..
                       little rocks.
And he moved them all to the river ...
He pushed them into the river,
         and by doing that he created .. falls, ..
                 he created Spokane Falls,
                          Post Falls.
He created other streams,
         that run away from the river ...

And then .. he went back to the .. Coeur d'Alene chief ...
And he says
        "There are no more salmon coming up that river ...
        And the only way you can get salmon again .. is to let me have your daughter." ..
And the Coeur d'Alene chief says
        "N-o-o! ..
         It is not possible
                   and I will not do it!" ..

And so .. the Coyote says
        "Well, .. you will not have any salmon ...
        You will no longer have salmon until .. you tell me I can have her,
                 then I will let the salmon come back up again.
         Otherwise .. you will not get salmon." ..

And as he started to leave
       a young man
            who had been .. more or less courting the young lady
        he too was a very important man,
            he was part of the chief's line,
    and so he followed the Coyote ...

And so .. the Coeur d'Alene chief .. waited and waited.
He says,
    "He will not .. keep the fish from us
    We will get it." ..
But there was no sign of the Coyote ..
And the Chief says
    "When he comes back
        we will tell him no
    We can't do it." ..

And then the people started to talk ...
    "We have no fish.
    The fish stopped coming ...
    We need more fish, ..
         and we must get it." ..
So the chief says
    "Well, .. the next time Coyote comes back
          then we will talk.
    And maybe something can be worked out." ..

But they waited,..
    and waited ...
And the young man
    who had been courting .. the lady ..
          never said anything
           but we was glad
He was walking around smiling
    and dancing
        and being happy ...

And all of a sudden word came
    they found the Coyote.
He was dead ...

And so the spell was never taken away ...
And to this day, ..
    the Coeur d'Alenes
        the Spokanes,
            the Kalispels,
                the Colvilles,
                    we .. have .. no .. salmon ...
The Coyote never came back.
And he never broke the spell.
So ever since then ... we have no more salmon ...