Native American Tales

Old Man Coyote Makes the World

Old Man Coyote Makes the WorldOld Man Coyote Makes the World


Old Man Coyote used to be alone. There was nothing but water. No one knew how water came to be, nor did anyone know how Old Man Coyote came to be. He was tired of being alone, but saw two red-eyed ducks. He asked them to dive down and see what they could find. One of the ducks dove way down and came back up with a root. Old Man Coyote reasoned that where there were roots there was also earth. The duck dove down again and came back with some earth.

Old Man Coyote made the earth spread. He then planted the root which became all sorts of plants. The ducks suggested that he hollow out some places and build some places up. The hollowed out places could hold water. Old Man Coyote thought that this was a great idea.

The ducks then suggested that there should be companions because it was boring. Old Man Coyote made some people and some ducks, but he realized that they were all male, so he made some female people and ducks. Old Man Coyote came across Cirape, the Coyote, who told Old Man Coyote that there should be other animals as well. Old Man Coyote thought this was a great idea. Cirape asked what else there was to do and Old Man Coyote said that there were females for entertainment, but Cirape said that one could not do that all the time.

Cirape made a fancy prairie chicken that danced. The bear wanted his own special dance and Old Many Coyote told him that he wasn’t that special, but the bear insisted that he had made himself. Old Man Coyote told the bear that he would have to live alone and eat dead things.

Cirape told Old Man Coyote that the people must have tools, weapons, war, and language. Cirape also says that some men would take other men’s wives and that they should take them back once they were stolen because they knew they had been stolen. So from this point forward the Crow men always took back wives they had divorced.


So the men didn’t want the women back at first because they had been with another man, but then they decided that their woman probably learned a thing or two in bed and then took them back. They had been taken and weren’t as good as before they hadn’t been taken, but maybe if you took one of them back, you would be happy in the bedroom.

I’ve heard of wife stealing before in native tribes. Sometimes you just go and find yourself a different wife. It happened. Marriage wasn’t as a concrete thing in some native tribes as it is in Christian culture. Your marriage could be more transient in ways.

I don’t like this idea of seeing the stolen woman as “damaged goods.” Old Man Coyote said that he wouldn’t take his woman back if she had been stolen, but how in the heck was that her fault? Maybe she went willingly, or maybe she had no choice in the matter, but you’re going to punish her and make her be seen as damaged because of something that wasn’t her fault? That makes perfect sense. We call that rape culture, my friend.

In some ways, native tribes were more progressive with women’s rights than “white people” at the same period in history, but in other ways, the native tribes were just about the same as far as sexism went.


Let’s talk about this bear. The bear thought that it deserved its own special thing and said it created itself. Did any of us create ourselves? Seriously, did any one of you think yourself into existence? I’m pretty sure you didn’t, on the more divine side of things, you were a soul sent from heaven by God to a loving family and born as a baby, on the less divine side of things, two people had sex and you were conceived. You didn’t create yourself. It’s actually impossible to create yourself. You can certainly better yourself and make yourself more appealing more buff, smarter, or whatever, but you can’t create yourself.

The bear was proud and denied that another power had made him and he was punished for it. Would you want to live by yourself and eat dead things? Probably not.

You may be able to do a lot of special things, but you can’t create yourself. You owe your existence to something else, whether it’s a god or sex, you didn’t get here on your own. It would be downright conceited, very conceited of you, to even claim so. At the least, you’d be claiming you were above biology, at the most, you’re a blasphemer. Nothing creates itself.


Can’t have sex all the time, can we?

Weigh In

What do you think about the people wife-stealing and the mens’ propensity to take them back or not take them back?

What do you think about the bear?


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