18. Coyote Marries his Own Daughter
Coyote lived with his many children.
His oldest daughter was very pretty.
He wanted to marry her.
Then he pretended to be sick.
He spoke thus to his wife:
"I am badly sick." he said to her.
"Make me a bed on that tree that stands there. Put me up there." he said to her.
Then his wife made a bed for him there.
Then he lay down up there.
From somewhere he had brought a liver back that was rotten.
He had put this by his side.
Then he spoke thus to his wife:
"Sweep right here under me every day. When worms begin to fall, you will know I am gone.1
Then you will go away. You will give [my daughter] to anyone you meet carrying four fat prairie dogs. You will give him the oldest one." he said to her.
He had sexual desires toward his daughter. So he spoke thus.
They knew him by a large wart that was on the side of his head.2
Then, every day, his wife swept [the ground] under him.
One day there appeared many worms on that liver. And he was dropping the worms down [to the ground].
Then, the next day, his wife was coming again to the place under him.
She saw the worms he had dropped lying scattered about on the ground.
She went back to her children.
She was weeping.
"The worms have fallen. We shall go right away.
'When the worms fall, you will go.' he said to us." she said to her children.
Sadly, they started off.
When they were nearly out of sight, the small one, the youngest one, looked back to the tree that stood there.
He saw his father jumping from the tree that stood there.
Then he spoke thus to his mother:
"My mother, [I'm] sure my father jumped from the tree that stands there!" he said to her.
Then his mother spoke thus to him:
"Do not say so, my child. He is gone long ago. Do not mention him." his mother said to him3
In spite of that, the little one spoke thus to his mother:
"No, I say! No, I say! It was my father! It was certainly him!" he said.
But then his mother stopped him.
They went on.
Then, at a place still further on, that Coyote himself, carrying four prairie dogs, met his children.
Her husband talked to her but she did not recognize him.
Then that Coyote, when he met his children, spoke thus to them:
"Where are you who look so sad going?" he said to them.
Then his wife spoke thus to him:
"'When the worms fall, you will go,' he said to us. she said.
Then the worms fell. Therefore we are travelling here. He has gone."
Then, though it was indeed him, he spoke thus to her:
"The old man was wise. He said some thing else, no doubt?" he said to her.
Then she spoke thus to him:
"Yes. 'You will give this oldest girl to anyone who carries four prairie dogs.' he said to me." she said.
Then he spoke thus to her:
"It is so, I say, he was wise!" he said.
Then she gave him her oldest daughter.
She made a wickiup for him.4
His daughter, being his wife, sat with him in the sun.
(18.23) Then he spoke thus to his daughter:
"My wife, search for lice on me." he said to her.
Putting his head in her lap, he lay on his side as she searched for lice on him.
They knew him by a large wart that was on the side of his head.
His head lay on that side.
She put her hand there every now and then.
Then he spoke thus to her:
"They are on this side of me." he said, not permitting her to put her hand on the side on which the big wart lay.
Suddenly, he fell asleep.
Then that girl thought thus.
"Let's see, why does he not allow me to put my hand on this side?"she thought, looking on that side as he slept.
And a big wart was on the side of his head!
It was her father!
As he slept, she slipped quietly out from under him.
She ran back to her mother.
She spoke thus to her mother:
"My mother, that one is my father! A big wart lies on the side of his head! That shows that it is surely him!"she said to her.
She went back to him with her mother.
He was still asleep.
The two of them went to him.
They looked at the side of his head.
It was indeed him!
[The mother] picked up a big stone.
She put it on top of her head.
She stood over him where he slept.
She threw the stone on his head.
She had killed him.
"To be gone" is the accepted euphemism for death.
That is, the members of Coyote's family knew that he had a large wart on the side of his head. The informant
did not know this tale very well, and, in the first telling of it, omitted this detail which is important later [see
paragraph 23, et. seq.]. He afterward made this insertion which is, therefore, curiously out of context.
Mention of the dead is forbidden by the Apache, especially in the presence of relatives of the deceased.
Residence among the Chiricahua is matrilocal. The girl's mother, with the help of other female relatives,
constructs a wickiup for the newly married couple not very far distant from her own home. House building is
the work of the women.