I’m camping, and the desert divot nearby is a scar of prickly pear, cacti, and sharp-edged boulders. Tonight it’s dark, stars are twinkling, and its filled with coyotes singing, rapping, and yipping a song of their own. I think it could be their version of “Party and Bullshit” by the Notorious BIG.
Indigenous people revered and feared coyote. Like its design, coyote is mixed bag. On one hand the mighty trickster stood for folly, comedy, or good luck. But coyote could also bring humiliating failure, misfortune, or disaster. American Indian lore bubbles with tales of coyote’s mystique and lessons of its big appetite, small vision, and aimlessness.
If you’ve been to the American Southwest you’ve seen coyote trotting, trotting . . . always trotting. Coyote is the scruffy, desert-worn, slinky one; the raggle-taggle gypsy of the plains and scarred, scrubby deserts.
Coyote is the product of compromise or committee; no single artist would fashion such a sad, unmatched composite of fur and bone: snout too long, ears too big, legs too skinny, fur too matted and messy, eyes and face the bemused markings of vexation and confusion . . . perhaps its coyote smiling.
Even so, some creation stories sing high praises of coyote for he tricked monster, the world-destroyer, to save himself and all of us. Lobos disparatado (absurd, goofy, wild, coyote) is the back-room ally of the two-legged ones able to disembody and send its spirit to carry out pranks or offer gifts.
Some creation stories tell of coyote bringing the gift of fire for two-legged ones, or coyote who out schemed his enemies, and how the wily coyote detached his penis and sent it upriver to have a party only to return and reattach to his body.… read more...