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Coyote & Stinkbug
Kumeyaay Indians

Coyote Meets Stinkbug

told by Kumeyaay Indian Elder and Storyteller Benito Peralta 
translated by Mike Wilkins - (story adapted by Bill White '98)
 

Now, the coyote is a very intelligent animal ... 
but he always believes everything he hears.

One day Coyote was coming down the trail when he came upon Stinkbug.  Coyote said, "My, aren't you a delectable morsel.  I think I'll eat you!"  But Stinkbug bent down with his head close to the earth and his rear end raised up high.  When Coyote came closer,  Stinkbug kept his head close to the ground and didn't try to run away.  Coyote became curious and asked, "What are you doing, Stinkbug?"

"Shhhh!" said Stinkbug. "I'm listening to the things they're saying underneath the earth.  This trail belongs to the people under the earth and they are very angry."

"What  are they saying?" asked Coyote.

Stinkbug continued to listen and then told Coyote, "Since so many people travel on this trail, it's important that it is kept very clean.    They are angry because some travelers have been messing up the trail.  They have already caught two people who did this and burned them alive.  Now they're searching for a third who did the same thing, to catch him and burn him alive!"

When Coyote heard this, he remembered that he also had been careless, and maybe they would come looking for him!  "Wait for me here!  I'm going to go back to clean up my mess before they find out."  So Coyote left Stinkbug there to listen for what else he could hear and went far, far back up the trail.  He cleaned up everything.  And to make sure he wouldn't be found out, he carefully erased his tracks with a branch.  He even walked downstream in the creek so that no one would be able to follow his tracks.  Finally, after a long time, he came back to where Stinkbug had been.  But Stinkbug was gone.

Coyote thought to himself, "Stinkbug must have been waiting here for me for a very long time.  He must have given up and left."  Even hungrier than before, Coyote started down the trail, looking for something to eat.  But he was thinking to himself,   "At least now I've heard what is happening, what they're talking about underneath the earth."




- as told by Benito Peralta

- translated by Mike Wilkins (adapted by Bill White '98)

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