Saturday, August 23, 2014

Jaime de Angulo, from Indian Tales

The next morning while they were sitting around the fire eating acorn mush and rabbit ham and little round roasted balls made from the nuts of the laurel tree pounded into paste, Antelope and Bear started to argue. Bear said, “I don’t understand how Coyote could make people as something new that had never been before, since he himself and Hawk and Flint and the Ducks and all the others were already people. That’s too much for me.”
Coyote Old Man just squinted and smiled and went on eating laurel-nut balls and rabbit ham, but Antelope said, “Aaah, you don’t understand anything. He didn’t say last night that his great-grandfather’s grandfather made people, he said that Hawk complained because there were no people.”
“Well, isn’t that just what I was saying? I said that you said that Grandfather said—“
But Fox Boy interrupted, “Why don’t you listen to the stories instead of talking like two magpies?”
“Well, what does the story say then, you smart boy?”
“How can I tell after you two have mixed it all up?”
“At that Old Man Coyote burst out laughing and almost strangled on a rabbit bone.”
“That boy is clever all right,” he said. But Bear grumbled, “You are so clever yourself, Old Man, well then, tell me why you say that you made people when there were already people.”
“Because I am Coyote Old Man. I am a very old man. I am a thousand  years old. I KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENED AFTER THE BEFORE and before the after!”
Bear growled, “That doesn’t make sense what you say,” but Coyote shot back, “It doesn’t make sense to YOU because you are a young man yet, Mr. Bear. You are too young yet to understand.”
At that, Fox Boy started to dance. He whooped and yelled and sang, “Father is too young, Father is too young.” He took Antelope by the hand and they both danced around the fire singing, “Father is too young, Father is too young.”
Old Man Coyote got up and took the little baby Quail in his arms and he joined the dance around the fire. Bear growled, “Just a bunch of kids. I’m going to hunt rabbits. Somebody has got to do something useful in this camp.”
“Wait a minute Father, I’m going with you.”
Antelope took up her weaving material; she had commenced a new basket. Coyote was watching her. He said, “Why don’t you weave in the Quail pattern?”
“I don’t know how it goes. Do you?”
“Yes, I’ll show you how,” and old man Coyote took the basket from her. His fingers went fast, fast, fast. Pretty soon you could see all the Quail running around and around the basket, black figures on the white background.
“That’s beautiful,” said Antelope. Coyote gave her back the basket and she continued weaving, but she had to go slowly because it was a new pattern to her and she had often had to stop and ask instructions from the old man Coyote. Coyote was rocking the baby Quail in her cradle board.
“I’ll sing the Quail song for you.”
                        Daabo le eema ma a...

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