Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Native Californian Mythology

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Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Native Californian Mythology
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  Running head: Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Nati1Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Native Californian Mythology Patrick A. McCoyC!"  Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Nati# Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Native Californian Mythology $no%n as !nilemun to the Chumash& Coyote 'layed the flute that (rought the 'o%er of the %orld in su(mission )*. Coyote hel'ed to create humans and %anted to give them immortality)&*. To the +okut& Tro,khud or Tro,-hill %as the "ald Eagle %ho created the %orld& the old animaland (ird'eo'le& and oversa% the making of mountains )&*. /o%ever& those same 'eo'le the +okut sa% the Coyote as a meddler and trickster )*. The Mi%ok sa% Coyote as the great old chief %ho created humans %ith feathers& sticks and clay& (ut his o''onent %as not Eagle (ut 0alcon %ho (attled Coyote and %as nearly dro%n in the flood Coyote created )&*. This 'a'er %ill e'lorethe roles of these t%o 'rominent animals in the California native 'eo'les of the Chumash& +akut& Mi%ok and Pomo& and attem't to classify the mannerisms of these 'rehuman for(earers of the animals that interacted %ith these 'eo'les. Coyote !nilemun %as thought among the Chumash to have 'layed a flute (rought su(mission to the 'o%er of the %orld. /e %as the coyote of the sky after the flood he 2oined %ith the !un creator& Moon& and the Morning !tar to make humans. Coyote (elieved his hands should (e the sha'e of human hands& since he argued are the (est. Argument ensued among the sky 'eo'le& until coyote made his mind to form the human hand as his o%n. A %hite stone ta(le %as the instrument in their creative am(itions& and as coyote %as a(out to make his hand the im'ression for human hands& 3i4ard 'ressed his hand o%n hand into the ta(le and scram(led a%ay. Coyote raged& (ut the others found it good the li4ard made his choice to disru't their %ork. !nilemun also %anted to (esto% u'on humans the gift of mortality. Coyote %ould thro% old men into the  Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Nati5lake and they %ould (ecome young again. This time ho%ever& the sky 'eo'le re2ected his idea& and 'ersevered until Coyote lost argument.The tri(elets of the Pomo have a mied im'ression of the mythical coyote. The Eastern Pomo creation story only mentions Coyote as a trou(lemaker& much like $i,yoo of the +okut. The Central 6 !outhern Pomo have their oral traditions s'eak of Coyote a creator and (enefactor of mankind )3oe(*. !till another Pomo account of creation states a greater role for Coyote. They  (elieved in a great chief that %as the true creator& Coyote took a role of an intermediary creator of all things )Po%ers& 1788*.$i,yoo as the +okut name Coyote& %as made (y mistake (y Tro,khud the "ald Eagleman. Coyote %as al%ays sneaking out meddling in 'eo'le,s (usiness. /e %anted to do everything his %ay. 9ith all his interference and stu((ornness& the (ird and animal 'eo'le %anted "ald Eagle to (uild him a home some%here else. Tro,khud command all the (ird and animal 'eo'le to carry (askets of dirt to make mountains to segregate $i,yoo. n a myth of fire& Coyote tied to steal fire from the 9i,ness& the first man. Another creation story has Coyote hatching from an egg %ith other (ird and animal 'eo'le. Coyote ho%ls and causes the ground to shake. /is nestlings told him not to ho%l& lest the ground fall (eneath them. The stu((orn Coyotedecided he %anted to make his o%n land and 'eo'le that suited him. /o%ever& the Morning star ho%led first& making the ground safe. The +okut made this %hy coyotes leave %hen the morning star comes (efore da%n& ho%ling as they flee.The coyote %as ;,ye to the Mi%ok& %ith the rain(o% as his (o% and (ringer of fire )Peterson& 1<8=*. After the %orld (ecame dark again (y Tul%ren shooting out the !un %ith an arro%& ;,yesent the humming (ird to steal the little light he sa% far off. /umming (ird stole the fire and hid it under his chin& (ringing it to Coyote and (ringing the light (ack to the land. Coyote (attles  Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in Nati>%ith 0alcon instead of Eagle %ho is not mentioned among the Mi%ok in their myths& and has the  'o%er of flood %aters )Peterson& 1<8=*. After (attling %ith 0alcon he took the 'eo'le from the land and caused it to flood so falcon almost dro%ned. After (eing rescued (y his relative the ?re(e into his longhouse Coyote caused the flood to recede& and 'ut the 'eo'le (ack to live. Mi%ok creation myth tells us Coyote made humans )Peterson& 1<8=*. /e made 'eo'le %ith feathers he scattered from the mountain after he 'lanted all the trees& shru(s and her(s. Coyote also made 'eo'le from sticks left out from villages or clay.Modern @oological eamination of the coyote reveals a generalistic 'redator& omnivorous& %ith a diverse diet )?ese& #7*. This may indicate %hy the Pomo sa% Coyote as a  (enefactor and creator. Coyotes scavenging a variety of food to their young might have left an im'ression on the native 'eo'les as a (eneficent trait. The coyote also ada'ts to human environments -uite easily )?ese& #7*. This could (e the traits that has the Mi%ok and +okut  (elieve Coyote to (e a meddler and a trou(lemaker. /o%ever& the coyote also has the a(ility to live in diverse ha(itats )?ese& #7*. This could (e %hy the Chumash and (eing a(le to create everything on earth& as he is commonly seen in all ha(itats shared (y the Chumash. Eagle The Eagle is not as 'rominent in myths as Coyote among the Chumash. /o%ever& they  'laced the "ald Eagle as one a(ove them. Eagle is a 'urifier and destroyer of evil& as he Bremoves the foulness of the %orld )"lack(urn& 1<7*. The Chumash (elieve& like the Pomo&  (elieve Eagle has high status in their (eliefs. /e is the old %ise chief )"lack(urn& 1<7* %ho %asfilled %ith kno%ledge and righteousness.  Coyote and Eagle: The Role of Animals in NatiDAs mentioned& the Pomo also held Eagle in high status. The tri(e held ta(oos from eating the eagle as it is also considered a great chief )Po%ers& 1788*. The %ord Eagle is issul meaning good s'irit, in Ch%achama2u& a Pomo tri(elet )3oe(& 1<#=*. Fes'ite a ta(oo on eating the (ird& eagle feathers used etensively in secret society dances& forming a headdress or collar of the feathers )"arrett& 1<D#*.The +okut 'erha's have the highest instance of Eagle in their mythology. Tro,khud as he %as kno%n& created The Rain(o%& the Tahca%,tut& to 'rotect the Mi,eh G ndians from the meateaters )3atta& 1<5=*. Eagle esta(lished the rain(o%& as a (arrier to the meat eaters& and decreed that no meat eater can 2um' over Tahca%,tut. As Tro,khud& Eagle created the %orld )3atta& 1<5=*. After Eagle formed the land from mud (eneath the flood& he had the (ird and animal  'eo'le take (askets of dirt to make the mountains. 9hen they %ere high enough& Tro,khud ordered the animal and (ird 'eo'le to sto'. They em'tied their (askets u'on the ground& and they (ecame the B/og s%allo%s )3atta& 1<D=*& small hills that a''ear in +okut lands. Tro,-hill the "ald Eagle orders the animal and (ird 'eo'le to find fire )3atta& 1<D=*. After /o,mik finds the fire& "ald Eagle searches and finds (uckeye %ood to kee' the fire lit )3atta& 1<D=*. n another myth& Tro,khud and his son 'rairie falcon see a light in the sky that contains fire& and sends the (est clim(ers of the animal and (ird 'eo'le to retrieve it so the %orld %ill never (e dark )3atta& 1<D=*.3ike the coyote& the "ald Eagle is a generalistic 'redator& and %ill often feed on carrion as %ell as live 'rey )$aufman& n.d*. 'erha's his carrion eating ha(its ins'ired the Chumash to declare "ald Eagle to rid the %orld of foulness. The female "ald Eagle %ill nest overlooking cliffs& and %ill also engage in a telesco'ic vie% of 'rey (efore s%oo'ing do%n to retrieve its meal )$aufman& n.d*. t,s %atchful nature from afar may have ins'ired the Pomo and Chumash to
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