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A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King

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Andrea Isacescu

on 1 December 2014

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Transcript of A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King

Come from the Southeastern United States
Mostly Georgia, North and South Carolina

A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King
Writing style
King incorporates oral storytelling structures
Writes in a conversational tone
Uses anecdotes and humor while maintaining serious message
His writing style had been compared to trickster legends in Native American culture.
In Mythology: God or goddess, spirit, man or woman or anthropomorphic animal who shows intelligence and secret knowledge. Uses that knowledge to play tricks, disobey normal rules &conventional behavior.

Coyote myths is one of the most popular western Native American cultures
In creation myths: coyote is creator but can also be trickster at the same time.
Coyote wants to go to a party for Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America.
Narrator says that she's got the wrong version of the story and starts explaining how the Indians and America were actually "found".
Old Coyote loved to play baseball & one day she became friends with the Indians and played with them. But Indians were annoyed because Old Coyote always changed the rules in order to win, so they stopped playing with her.
Old Coyote then got bored so she imagined boats and people, so that she could play ball with them.
Those people wanted resources to sell back in their home country, so seeing that there was nothing valuable there, they took the Indians back to Spain.
Old Coyote was left friendless because she didn't believe Columbus when he told her he was going to sell her friends overseas.

Thomas King
Born on April 24 1943 in Sacramento, California.
American-Canadian novelist and broadcaster.
Often writes about North America's First Nations.
Dad was Cherokee and Mom was Greek-German-American.
First person of aboriginal descent to be asked to give the Massey lecture in Canada
Worries that the aboriginal land and culture will be taken away from the First Nations until there is nothing left.
Most notable works: A Coyote Columbus story (1992), Green Grass and Running Water (1993)
Massey lecture
Annual five part series lectures on a political, philosophical or cultural topic.
Given in honor of Canada's governor general Vincent Massey.
One of the first major non-european ethnic group to become US citizen
More than 314 000 members & largest federally recognized native american tribe.
"Sit down, I says. Have some tea. We're going to have to do this story right. We're going to have to do this story now.
It was all Old Coyote's fault, I tell Coyote, and here is how the story goes. Here is what really happened." (39)
"Boy, says Coyote. That is one sad story.
Yes, I says. It's sad alright. And things don't get any better, I can tell you that.
What a very sad story, says Coyote. Poor Old Coyote didn't have anyone to play ball with. That one must have been lonely. And Coyote begins to cry." (41)
"Christopher Columbus sold the Indians, I says, and that one became rich and famous.
Oh, good, says Coyote. I love a happy ending. And that one blows her party whistle and that one shakes her party rattle and that one puts her party hat back on her head." (41)
Most known trickster god is from Norse mythology (Scandinavian)

Reynard the Fox
by Michel Rodange
"But, you know, whenever Old Coyote and the Indians played ball, Old Coyote always won. She always won because she made up the rules. That sneaky one made up the rules and she always won because she could do that." (39)
Wants to disobey normal rules, so she makes her own. Plays tricks on the Indians.
In Crow tradition: Old Man Coyote impersonates creator but never mentioned as an animal.
Some people say that impersonation of Coyote as Creator is a mythic substitute to the religious notion of the Great Spirit, whose name was too dangerous to use outside special ceremonies.
In the story:
Coyote: portrayed as naive person who believes everything they read or are told.
Narrator: cultured person who tries to teach everyone what actually happened or what is a myth and what is true.
Old Coyote: creator and trickster

"When Old Coyote gets bored, anything can happen. Stick around. Big trouble is coming, I can tell you that.
Well. That silly one sings a song and she dances a dance and she thinks about changing the rules, too, ans she doesn't watch what she's making up out of her head. So pretty soon, she makes three ships.
Hmmm, says Old Coyote, where did those ships come from?
And pretty soon, she makes some people on those ships.
Hmmm, says Old Coyote, where did those people come from?
And pretty soon, she makes some people on the beach with flags and funny looking clothes and stuff." (39)
Little history about Columbus
Not only an explorer, but leader of an army who enslaved the Native Tainos of the Caribbean islands and installed himself as governor of Haiti.
History is relative: it depends on the narrator's beliefs
Stories that are told are influenced by what the narrator believes is true.
In the story, Coyote believes what she read in an encyclopedia, and the narrator tells her what he thinks is the "real" story.
Unquestionable truth is that the Indians and America were never lost. They were always there and still are today.
Story portrays Columbus as the villain because that's what he is for Native Americans.
Every story has two sides and sometimes the unquestionable truth is never found.
WW2, cuban revolution, etc.
Credit should be given when deserved but we shouldn't believe everything blindly.
Columbus did "find" America for the Europeans because they didn't know another continent existed on the other side of the ocean.
However, didn't find Indians, they were always there.
By enslaving them and "stealing" their natural resources, he's not exactly a hero.
Seen as hero because he colonized America, but only brought misery to the people living there.
Greed can have disastrous consequences
Old coyote always wanted to win so she always changed the rules.
This made her friends leave her to play by herself.
She always wanted more, so she created other people to play with but those people only wanted to get rich, so they took Old Coyote's friends and sold them in Europe.
Instead of being grateful for what she had, she wanted more and in the end she was left all alone.
The Quiz
1. Name one other trickster god you know except Loki and Old Coyote.
2. When Columbus thought he found gold, what did he actually find?
3. What was the first name of the island Columbus first tried to colonize?
4. Name another aboriginal nation except Cherokee and Crows.
5. King's father was a Cherokee, what was his mother?
6. Name the three ships that accompanied Columbus to America.
7. After who were named the Massey lectures? (full name)
8. Name one other story King wrote except A Coyote Columbus story.
9. Name the city Thomas King was born in.
10. What is the name of the people that were enslaved by Columbus and his men?
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