2. Coyote and Owl
From there Coyote went on farther along the road.
The sun having set, it was becoming a bit dark.
He had heard something.
He kept hearing it again at intervals.
He had heard something making a noise directly to the west.
Then he went in that direction.
When he go there, [it was] only Owl sitting up [somewhere].
"Friend," he called to him.
Then he saw him.
He was sitting up over there.
[Coyote] sat down right there.
"Friend," he said to him.
He looked down to the ground.
"What is it?" Owl said to him in a gruff voice1
Let's sit on the ground.
Tell me stories," he said to him.
"All right, Coyote. I'll tell you stories," he said to him.
Then he came down from up there.
The two sat down on the ground.
Then Coyote looked at him.
He looked at him closely.
"Friend," Coyote said to him,
"That is a wonderful hat you
seem to be wearing2.
Show me the power of that hat," he said to him.
"I'll show you the power of what are my ears, if you like
them," he said to him.
"Now then, sit facing the east," Owl said to him.
Then Coyote sat down that way.
Then Owl got up.
He stood on the east side.
He was holding up some pollen in his right hand.
He raised the hand holding the pollen to the four directions.
He turned around to face [Coyote].
He put pollen on the top of his head for him.
Then he marked the side of his face for him.
Then he looked at him.
Then he moved toward him from the south also.
He did so with the pollen again from there.
Then he moved toward him again from the west.
From there also he did the same thing.
Then he turned toward him from the north.
Then Owl had done so for him four times.
"Now that of which you spoke is there," he said to
"Yes. I am grateful for it, friend. Thank you," he said to
Owl stood before him.
Four times, from behind him, he pushed him on toward the east3.
"Now," he said to him,
"Look at it. Do you like
Coyote got up.
He did that.
He moved his hands over his ears.
He liked them very much.
He was grateful for them.
"What shall I give you? I have nothing. he said to him.
In spite of that, I will do anything that you tell me at
Then, as he started to leave Owl, he said to him:
"It is time that
we eat. What will you eat now?"
"Friend, that which I [would] eat right now is buffalo intestines
and roasted buffalo ribs," he said to him.
"I will not eat with you," said Owl to him.
"Let's eat. Then we'll go away from each other," said Coyote
"All right," said Owl to him.
Then that which he had named, prepared that way, lay scattered
And Coyote began to eat.
Then, for [Owl], a rabbit, already prepared, lay there.
He began to eat it4.
Then they ate.
They were seated.
They did not speak to each other.
When both of them had eaten, Coyote said to him:
"Friend,"Coyote said to him,
fed me well."
He got up.
"Friend, you will come to [vist] me also.
[I have] nothing and there isn't anything I can do for you
but [come] to my home four days from now.
So now we will separate."
As Coyote was speaking to him, he had started to move toward him.
Then he also had started to move toward [Coyote].
Then they embraced each other and parted.
Then Coyote returned to his home.
Then four days passed.
Then they had started to come to him.
When exactly four days had passed, they came to him at his home.
"Coyote, we are coming to [visit] you," they said to him.
"Yes," he said to them.
"Wife, spread [a robe] for those people. They will sit here,"
Coyote said to his wife.
Then she spread [a robe] for them.
And they sat down there.
"They come to me here because of something which I shall do for
them," he said to her.
"What do you know that you will do for them?
You are crazy. You cannot do anything for them," said
Coyote's wife to him.
"What did you come for? What shall I do for you?"
"Make a good hat for these [two] for me. Then we will eat with you. That is why we have come to
yon," said Old man Owl to him.
"What kind of hat shall I make for you?" said Coyote to
"Make [my] people for me like your [people]5. said
Old Man Owl to him.
That is why we have come to you,"
Then Coyote got up.
He asked for pollen.
[His wife] gave him pollen.
"Sit down facing the east," he said to
those [two] who were Owl People.
Then the two of them sat down facing the east.
Now Coyote got up.
He picked up some pollen.
He stood facing them from the east.
Four times he put pollen on top of their heads for them.
Then he also made a line on one side of their faces for them.
Then from the south also.
Then from the west also.
Then also from the north.
"Now," he said to them.
He stood facing them.
He had started to stretch a feather he was holding up.
He put it into their ears for them.
He did so with four [feathers] for them6.
Then the two went toward the Owl man with them.
Old Man Owl man looked at them.
He did not like it.
In spite of that, he asked them about it.
"Do you like it?" he said to them.
They moved their hands over them.
"Yes," they said.
Those people for whom ears had been made said:
Then Owl man said:
"Are you ready to eat now?" said Coyote to them.
As Old Man Owl was about to say yes, [the other two] said yes and no
"Bring something that you have prepared," [said Coyote
to his wife].
Then Coyote brought to them some hard dry meat that could not be
Then he put that which could not be chewed before them.
"Never mind, we'll go home," they said to Coyote.
Then all of them embraced one another.
Then they went away from him.
In telling the stories different tones of voice are used in keeping with the characters of the birds
or animals who are speaking. Owl, who is a fearsome bird to the Mescalero, and who was a
man-eating monster in the mythological days, is always represented as having a deep, gruff
Coyote refers to Owl's ears as a hat. This device of speaking of one thing in terms of something
else which it may remotely resemble, is a common one in these tales, and causes great
merriment when it is used.
The ceremonial procedure and motions described here are an accurate account of elements
found in many curing ceremonies.
The conspicuous part which food and feeding play in these tales is a faithful reflection of the
seriousness of the food-quest for these roving, hunting and gathering Apache.
This passage is somewhat obscure. The meaning to be conveyed is that Owl is asking Coyote to
make hats [or ears] for his people similar to those possessed by Coyote's people.
That is, he put one feather into each ear of both the Owl people.
That is, with feathers in their ears.