Coyote, First Man and Placing the Stars


After four nights had come and gone First Woman and First Man saw that the sky was too dark. More lights were needed up there for those who wished to travel by night, expecially when the moon did not shine.

So they gathered as many fragments of rock-star mica as they could find. Then, First Man sketched a design on the ground, so that he could work out a plan for lighting up the heavens. Once he was satisfied with his scheme, he began to carry it out.

Working very slowly and very carefully, he placed one fragment of mica in the north. There he wished to have a star that would never move. By it those who journeyed at night could set their course.

Then he placed seven more pieces of rock-star mica. those became the seven stars we now see in the north.

Next he placed a bright piece of mica in the south. Likewise, he placed one in the sky to the east. And he put another one in the sky to the west. He did so very carefully and very thoughtfully.

So it was that he slowly built several constellations. for he wanted the results of this work to be perfect. But while he was laboring, along came the Coyote.

For a while he watched First Man as he worked. then he looked down at the pieces of mica that had been gathered. there he found three red fragments. and when he noticed them he had this to say:

"I will take these for my very own stars," he said.

"And I shall place them where I please."

So saying, he put them exactly where we now see three large red stars among the white ones that shine above us in the darkness every night.

Meanwhile, First Man continued his work as carefully as before. One by one he positioned each star according to his original plan. And Coyote watched him, observing the results of First Man's slow progress.

Until at last he grew impatient and cried out, having this to say: "Never mind doing it that way!" he said. "Why must I wait this long for your work to be done? Let the stars sit whereverf they will."

So saying, he gathered all of First Man's pieces of rock-star mica in his paw. then he threw them up into the air, blowing a strong breath at them as they flew. Instantly they stuck to the sky helter-skelter in random bunches.

At least those stars which the First Man had already placed remained in their proper positions. so some constellations were carefully fixed. Othyerwise the stars were scattered across the sky in uneven clusters.

To this very day, those who look at the sky on a dark night can see the unevenly placed stars. And by looking at them they can observe the everlasting disorder created by the Coyote in his impatience, it is said.

From Dine' Bahane'; 1984, Paul G. Zolbrod.