Coyote and the Stars
As the weather warms, we begin spending more and more time outside. Those who appreciate the night sky can brave going out and seeing the myriad of stars. It is a humbling experience, and one which stirs something within us. We seemingly have always wondered the hows and whys of the cosmos. Our thoughts were reflected in the stories our ancestors told. One of my favorite stories comes from the Navaho tribe and the story explains where the stars came from.
A very long time ago, before the two leggeds walked the Earth, the world was very different from the way it is now. Back then, in the beginning time there were no stars in the night sky, and there was no moon. The nights were very dark, and the animals could not see to walk around and so were always bumping into each other. Finally they talked and decided to go ask the Great Spirit for help.
The animals gathered and talked to Great Spirit. They told Great Spirit that they were grateful for all they had, yet they wanted something else. They would like to be able to see at night. Great Spirit nodded and smiled and told the animals "watch me, little ones." He then picked up a bright shiny stone from a stream and placed it in the sky, where it became a star. "This is the home star" Great Spirit explained "it does not move, use it to find your way home when you are lost" (Note, this star is Polaris, the North Star.)
Then Great Spirit told the animals to go collect up piles of these shiny stones and carry them up into the sky and make pictures of themselves. The animals began this task, but soon the little animals grew tired. After awhile longer, the bigger animals also grew tired.
Back they went to Great Spirit and asked for more help. "Go to Coyote" Great Spirit said "tell him to help you." And so they did. Now Coyote thought he was the wisest and most clever of all the animals, and he did not want to waste his time helping the other animals. Still, he also did not want to offend Great Spirit. So coyote told the animals to leave their stones with him, and he would finish the job for them. After the animals left, Coyote began thinking of what a grand picture of himself he would create in the sky, "it will be better than all the others," he thought. It will have the most stones and will be the brightest of all!
Suddenly Coyote was reminded that he must finish the animals work. Coyote did not want to waste a lot of time finishing the pictures of the other animals. So, hurriedly he snatched up the bag of stones and flung them up into the air. The stones went here and there, all over. None of the stones really helped finish the pictures of the other animals. And that is why not all constellations appear finished, and why some do not look like what they are named after. But, coyote was punished for his treachery, for in his haste, he forgot to save stones for his own picture! Coyote was furious and he howled in rage. That is why Coyote howls at night now, because he cannot see a picture of himself in the night sky!
Copyright © 2001 Kathy A. Miles and Charles F. Peters II