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Why the Coyote Howls at the Moon

Navajo Tribe Inspired Folktale


on 25 July 2014

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Transcript of Why the Coyote Howls at the Moon

Why the Coyote
Howls at the Moon

The next morning, Sun rose and noticed that his sister, Moon was nowhere to be found. “Where has she gone?” he thought. “I will not leave until I find her”.
So Sun stayed in his spot for days and days. There was no night Sky, no Stars, and no Moon.
Navajo Folktales & Legends
Their constant interaction with nature is expressed throughout their stories, legends, and folklore. Native Americans in general are geared toward family life and staying true to the culture.
Navajo stories and myths are known for having mystical creatures such as skin walkers and coyotes. Many of these stories have been told for generations through memory, orally. The main character in most traditional Navajo stories is the coyote. Coyotes are often tricksters who possess clever and helpful traits. However, coyotes get into trouble because of socially unacceptable character flaws. The coyote frequently shows characteristics of greed, dishonesty, recklessness, and/or impatience.
Through the expression of art and story-telling, the Navajo people have been able to pass on their values and lifestyle for generations. The creation of earth, the moon, stars, and man are important aspects of the culture that answer how things came to exist.
The Navajo people are primarily located in the Southwestern region of the United States. Arizona and New Mexico has the largest population of Navajo people.
The Navajo were known for being hunters and gatherers that mainly grew corn, beans, and squash.
An Original Folktale
By Davia Alvarado
One day, Indian chief was out praying for night Sky and Stars to appear, when he saw Sun shining bright. “Why are you here all of the time, Sun? Why have you kept night Sky and Stars from us?”
“You must let night Sky and Stars come out to catch him”, replied Indian chief. “You will see his belly glow then.”
“Where is Coyote”, asked Sun.
“I have seen Moon, replied Indian chief. Coyote has swallowed her.
Sun replied, “I have lost my sister, Moon, and now you will feel my heat every day until she returns”.
Now every night Coyote howls at Moon, begging for her to come back to him.
So that night, Sun let night Sky and Stars come out while he waited behind the tallest tree for Coyote to appear. Sun waited a long time. Finally, Coyote started walking out from the woods. His belly was glowing bright. Sun appeared from behind the tree and scared Coyote. “Return Moon to me!” yelled Sun. “No. She is mine now. I have swallowed her whole”, replied Coyote. “Her beauty and light now makes me beautiful and I will never give her up.”
Coyote was walking one night when he saw a beautiful light in the distant sky. “What are you?” asked Coyote.
“I am Moon”, she replied.
“You are so beautiful”, said Coyote.

As Moon moved closer, Coyote climbed on top of the nearest rock. And he swallowed her whole.

“You shine bright so that I can see where I am going. Although, you must be lonely. You have such a tough job, lighting the night Sky."
Could you be so kind as to share your beauty with me? All you have to do is move toward me and I will climb on top of this rock.”
Sun was very smart and clever and so he replied, “Ah, but the Stars are much more beautiful than Moon. There are also more of them, too”. “You are right”, replied Coyote. “I suppose I could give Moon back in exchange for Stars.”
“Now that you have given Moon back, I will never let you have the Stars. You are greedy Coyote and for that you can howl each night, but Moon will never leave the night Sky again.”
As Coyote started to open his mouth to let Moon out of his belly, Sun came down and grabbed her.
Full transcript