10. Coyote Obtains Fire
Long ago, there was no fire.
Then only those who are called Flies had fire.
Then the Flies held a ceremony.
And Coyote came there1.
At that place where they held the ceremony,
Coyote danced around and around at the edge of the fire.
And he continually poked his tail in the fire.
Then they spoke thus to him:
"Friend, your tail will burn," they said to him.
"Let it burn!" he said to them.
And he put his tail in the fire.
The fire flared up under his tail.
Then many of them circled around him.
The Flies, they did so.
Then many of them circled around him but that Coyote jumped over [and] away from them with the fire.
He ran away from them with the fire.
They ran behind him.
Then, farther on, he gave fire to the Eagle.
At that place, now, he scattered the fire all over among these mountains.
Fire was burning in every direction.
Then these Flies tried to put out the fire but they tried in vain.
Then, that Coyote having been helped by the blowing of the wind, the fire, becoming impossible to control, burned on.
In this way, fire came into existence.2
Then [the Flies] hated that Coyote.
And they spoke thus to him:
"The stones, the earth, the water: they said to him.
let them all become hot for him!"
That happened exactly so.
Then he was dashing around and around.
The Coyote did so.
All of these became hot for him.
Therefore he ran away in vain.
A [pond of] water lay there.
"This, also, used to be cool." he said.
And he jumped into the water that lay there.
A [hissing] noise was heard.
Right there, he was boiled.
At this time, anything that they said occurred in exactly that way.
Anything of which one said:
"It is to happen so." happened in just that way.
For that reason one did not say just anything to someone.
If one spoke in that way to someone one hated, it happened in exactly that way.
For that reason, one did not say just anything to someone.3
They spoke only in a very good way.
Then, it having happened so in this place, fire came into existence.
Because of Coyote, fire came into existence, they say.
In this way, the old people have told them about it.
Texts 10 through 18 are episodes belonging to the familiar coyote trickster cycle. Among the Chiricahua these
stories were told as a connected series of episodes having a definite order. They were told at night and in the
winter only. The story of the creation of the plant and animal life of earth is not introduced into the Chiricahua
coyote cycle as it is in the Mescalero narrative. [See note 1. 1 in section A.]
The winning of fire for man is always attributed to Coyote by the Chiricahua. The identities of those from
whom he steals it and of those who aid him in the theft differ in various versions.
The informant might have added that the same belief governs Apache behavior today. If an Apache curses and
wishes ill to another shortly before some disaster occurs to the one upon whom the malediction falls, the person
who spoke so rashly will be considered a "witch" by many and may find himself in serious trouble.