Átsé Hashké dóó Chaa Dine (Coyote and the Beaver People)

Note: The Navajo (Diné) word for "Coyote" is Mąii, but the Diné word for the "Coyote" (of Navajo mythology) is Átsé Hashké. The Diné word for "Coyote People" is Chaa Dine.

Coyote was trotting along, sniffing flowers, now and then picking a pretty one to put over his ear. In the distance, beside a little pool. he saw some Beaver People playing. He sat on the hillside watching them for a few minutes. "I do believe they're playing the hoop and pole game," he said aloud, although no one was near to hear him. "I'll just go over and see. It has been a long time since I've seen anyone play that good old Navajo game." It was true, they were playing that old game.

Coyote trotted over to the beavers in the most friendly way and sat down to watch. "What are you betting?" he asked. "What does the winner get if he throws the pole through the 'rolling hoop?"

They looked at him as though they wished he'd go away. One of them finally said, "The winner gets to skin the loser." "Now that's a little rough, isn't it?" Coyote said. "To lose your hide is bad enough, but to be skinned then and there - well, I don't think I'd like that."

Two of the beavers had rolled the hoop and one of them threw the pole through it. They counted points. Then the winner took the loser aside and began skinning him. They were at the water's edge as they worked. As soon as the loser was skinned, he rolled into the water floated around for a little while, gave the water a slap with his broad tail and grew a new skin.

"That's a good trick, if you can do it. Surely, I, with my magic powers, should be able to, and the game looks like such fun," Coyote thought.

The oldest beaver saw the gleam in Coyote's eyes and came over to him. "If you're thinking of playing the game, do change your mind. Few can do what these players do."

"Oh, come! How about me betting my hide against yours?" Coyote suggested. "Who would want that rough old pelt of your?" the beaver asked, looking at Coyote. Coyote's hide certainly didn't look sleek and pretty like those of the beavers. "No, be content to play your own games." The beaver started to go away, but Coyote ran along beside him, begging to be allowed to play.

After he asked four separate times, the old beaver looked at the others. "Shall we let him play?" "Yes," one of the younger ones said. "We'll let him win the first time, then we'll win. He won't want to play a third time."

Coyote took one of the poles. He waited until the hoop was rolled, then he dashed after it and threw the pole through it, making many points. "I told you I could play it," he crowed. "But I'd rather not skin the loser. Let him keep his skin and let me play another game."

"Quit now," said the oldest beaver. "Next time you'll be sure to lose, and I warn you it is very painful for most creatures to be skinned." "If I lose," Coyote bragged, "I'll jump in the water as you do and grow a new skin."

So they played again. This time a beaver won. He got his knife and walked toward Coyote. All at once Coyote didn't want to be skinned. "Now, Cousins, can't you skip this part?" he begged. "I don't like the sight of blood. Particularly when it is my blood. I might even get very ill.

YEOW! That hur-r-r-rts!" Poor Coyote. How he howled and cried and yowled. But the Beaver People had no mercy on him. They just calmly peeled the skin over his head, having a hard time loosening it from his long, slim nose.

When they had finished the job. Coyote jumped into the pool, whimpering, and flopped over on his back as, he had seen the Beaver People do. But nothing happened to him. Four times he jumped in and each time he came out as naked as before. He was terribly worried, and the Beaver People began to feel sorry for him.

"There's only one hope for you," the oldest beaver said. "If we throw you into the badger hole, Badger just may give you a new skin. Do you want to try it?" "Yes," Coyote howled. "Anything. Anything."

So the Beaver People picked him up and carried him to the badger hole and pushed him into it. Then they waited outside. It was a long time before Coyote came crawling out, wearing a new skin. That's why Coyote today has the same kind of skin as the badger.

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URL: http://www.lapahie.com /Coyote_Beaver_People.cfm
Creator(s): Harrison Lapahie Jr.
Dated Created: 12/03/2011
Version: 2.0
Updated: 05/16/2014
Curator(s): Harrison Lapahie Jr.
Resource(s): Coyote Stories of the Navajo People, Navajo Curriculum Center Press, 1974 School Board, Inc. Rough Rock Arizona
Questions/Comments: Harrison Lapahie Jr.

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