Átsé Hashké dóó Dahsání (Coyote and the Porcupine)

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 "Porcupine" is Dahsání.

When Coyote came trotting through the forest one morning, just at dawn, he saw something that made him very curious. Because he always was curious, as well as hungry, he stopped enjoying the keen fresh air and the smell of sage and cedar, and he trotted over to find what his old friend, Porcupine, was doing.

"Good morning Porcupine," he said. "I see you have built a nice bark shed for yourself. That is very smart. You like bark to eat. Now all you have to do is tear off a part of your shed and eat it."

"Come in," Porcupine invited. "As you can see, I have nothing to eat in my house but since I know you always are hungry, I'll bring you a piece of bark right now." Coyote thought that was very funny. He did not like bark. Porcupine was teasing him, he decided.

Porcupine waddled outside. He took one of the slabs of bark from his wall, brought it inside and sat down near the fire that was burning in the middle of the shed. Then he pulled a quill from his back and struck the sharp point of it on his nose. Blood began to come in a red stream which Porcupine caught on the cupped piece of bark. When it was well covered with his blood, he laid the bark gently on a bed of coals and sat back.

"Why did you do that Cousin?" Coyote asked. "I don't like to see you shed your own blood so carelessly. Are you going to cook your own blood and eat it?" "Be patient," Porcupine said, leaning back and crossing his legs. "You are about to see something you never have seen before."

Coyote was impatient to find out. "What?" he said. "What are you going to do? Do you have some magic I know nothing about?" Porcupine just closed his eyes and seemed to be having a quick nap.

Coyote looked at the bark on the coals. It no longer was bark. It was a delicious roast of ribs, cooking to a nice brown. It smelled good.

Porcupine awoke just as the roast was done. He pulled it from the fire and handed it to Coyote. "I already have had my breakfast," Porcupine said. "So eat all you want Cousin." Coyote grabbed the roast and began chewing it. He ate every bit and chewed on the bones. "That was most delicious, Cousin Porcupine." he said, when he had licked his chops free of every little speck of the roast.

After eating. Coyote said, "Come to my house in four days and I'll see what I can cook for you." On the fourth day, Porcupine waddled over to the home of Coyote. To his surprise Coyote had built a bark shed exactly like his own. He even had built a little fire in the shed, just as Porcupine had done.

"Come in Cousin." Coyote invited him. "As you see, I have nothing in the house for you to eat, but I'll bring in a piece of bark at once." Porcupine sat down beside the fire and waited. Coyote rushed outside, humming a song, and soon came back with a large piece of bark. Then he took a yucca leaf with a sharp point and pricked his nose. The wise old Porcupine smiled.

"You may be wasting your time Cousin." he said, as Coyote leaned over the bark with blood spurting from his nose. "Remember, your blood is not the same as mine." "Blood is blood." Coyote chuckled, placing the bloody bark on the fire. "Now we'll see what kind of a roast I've made."

The bark got hot and the blood began to bubble. Then, suddenly, the bark caught fire and burned brightly. Coyote was horrified. "What happened? What happened?" he asked, dancing around the fire as the bark turned to ashes. "The bark didn't turn into meat for me. Why not?"

"Not all people have the same gifts," Porcupine answered. Looking very solemn, he got up and waddled away. Coyote sat beside the fire for a long time He was terribly unhappy. If the bark would turn to meat for Porcupine, why not for him?

Outside in a pinon tree, Bluejay shrieked, "Squawk! Squawk!" and he said, "You can't have everything Cousin." Coyote didn't want advice just then. He tore a piece of bark from his new shed and threw it at Bluejay. Then he felt a little better.

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URL: http://www.lapahie.com /Coyote_Porcupine.cfm
Creator(s): Harrison Lapahie Jr.
Dated Created: 12/03/2011
Version: 2.0
Updated: 05/17/2014
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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