Ataga'hi, The Enchanted Lake
A Cherokee Legend
Westward from the headwaters of Oconaluftee river, in the wildest depths of the Great Smoky mountains, which form the line between North Carolina and Tennessee, is the enchanted lake of Ataga'hi. (Gall place)
Although all the Cherokee know that it is there, no one has ever seen it, for the way is so difficult that only the animals know how to reach it.
Should a stray hunter come near the place he would know of it by the whirring sound of the thousands of wild ducks flying about the lake.
On reaching the spot he would find only a dry flat, without bird or animal or blade of grass, unless he had first sharpened his spiritual vision by prayer and fasting and an all-night vigil.
Because it is not seen, some people think the lake has dried up long ago, but this is not true. To one who had kept watch and fast through the night it would appear at daybreak as a wide-extending but shallow sheet of purple
water, fed by springs spouting from the high cliffs around.
In the water are all kinds of fish and reptiles, and swimming upon the surface or flying overhead are great flocks of ducks and pigeons, while all about the shores are bear tracks crossing in every direction. It is the medicine lake of the birds and animals, and whenever a bear is wounded by the hunters he makes his way through the woods to this lake and plunges into the water, and when he comes out upon the other side his wounds are healed.
For this reason the animals keep the lake invisible to the hunter.
Battle Between Two Worlds
A Cherokee Legend
When the world of the Ani Yunwiya was new all living things were great in size and strength. Two of the many creatures that had been created and placed upon Ani Daksi Amayeli by Unethlana the Apportioner were the Tlanuhwa and the Uktena.
The Tlanuhwa were very large birds with markings much like the red-tail hawk of today. The markings or symbols of the great Tlanuhwa could only be worn by the ancient Ani Kituhwah warriors when they went into war. Some people say the Tlanuhwa were the original parents, Ani Tawodi, of the great hawks
that live today.
The Uktena are enormous creatures that live in the rivers and lakes of the great Ouascioto valleys and mountains (the Ohio Valley and Appalachians).
The Uktena come and go from this world to the underworld. They enter the underworld through caves that are found under the waters of rivers and lakes and also through certain entrances into the earth where there are springs.
The Uktena have the body of a snake with very pretty and colorful circles all around their torsos. They also have wings like the great buzzard and horns upon their head like the great deer.
Upon their forehead there is a
special crystal which people prize because it has very special power over light and dark. This crystal is also a window into the future and the past.
The crystal is called an Ulunsuti stone; it is the most powerful thing a person can possess. The stone is carried in a circular buckskin pouch along with a little red pigment and must never be kept in the house but in a safe dry place outside the house away from people.
When one gazes into an Ulunsuti stone, one will see either a white or a red blood-like streak appear. Only certain priests of the Ani Kuhtahni of the Ani Yunwiya know how to use these Ulunsuti stones and can invoke certain formulas or prayers which are aides to humans when used properly. One such
protection prayer (Igowesdi) that calls upon a great Uktena is:
"Now! Nearby here the Great Red Uktena now winds his way. Now! Now the glare of the purple lightening will dazzle the Red Uktena. Also, this ancient tobacco will be as much of a thorough-going wizard. Now! The Seven Reversers (priests of the mounds) looking at me will be dazzled by the Great Red Uktena. Udohiyuh!"
At a certain place the Ani Yunwiya call Hogahega Uweyu i which lies alongsidethe Wanegas (now known as the Tennessee River), there remains one of the ancient cave homes of the Tlanuhwa.
Located high up in the cliffs by the river, it is at this place that an ancient fight took place between the Tlanuhwa and the Uktena. Near the caves of the Tlanuhwa was one of the towns of the Ani Yunwiya.
The people living in the town never had any problems with the Tlanuhwa until one day, the Tlanuhwa began to swoop down out of the sky, grabbing young children in their talons and taking them away to their caves by the Hogahega Uweyu i. The people of the town became very upset and all the mothers started
crying and shouting at the men to bring back the children stolen by the Tlanuhwa.
So the men made a plan; they went very near the Tlanuhwa caves and took vines growing there from some trees and made ropes to climb down over the cliffs to the caves. The men waited until they were certain that the Tlanuhwa were out of the caves. Then down the ropes some of the men went, into the caves of the Tlanuhwa.
Tlanuhwa returning to their caves with more children in their talons. So very quickly the men began throwing the unhatched eggs of the Tlanuhwa down into the Hogahega Uweyu i far below.
When the eggs splashed into the waters far below the Tlanuhwa caves, the great Uktena came up from below the waters and began eating the eggs as fast as the men could throw them into the water. This made the Tlanuhwa very angry and they dropped the children and swooped down upon the Uktena. The men waiting below the caves caught the children as they fell. Thus began a long fight between the Tlanuhwa and the Uktena.
The Tlanuhwa destroyed the Uktena and tore it into four pieces. Afterwards, the pieces of the Uktena were thrown all around the country along with the great crystal, the Ulunsuti stone. Many people are still searching for that Ulunsuti stone in the mountains along the Hogahega uweyu I.
After that terrible fight the Tlanuhwa were so angry at what the humans had done with their eggs that they flew far away, up above the sky vault and have never been seen since. However, one can see the pictures that the ancient Ani Yunwiya made of the Tlanuhwa and Uktena, on the walls of the
many caves among the Ouascito (Central Fire) Mountains, the ancient home of the Ani Yunwiya.
It is said that today, far below the cave of the Tlanuhwa on the banks of the Hogahega Uweyu i, one can still see the rocks that were stained from the blood of the Uktena and the Tlanuhwa from the fight they had that day.
Bead-Spitter and Thrown-Away
A Creek / Alibamo Legend
Bead-spitter (Konapkeso'fka) lived in a certain place. Two young women heard the name and, thinking that it must belong to some person, started out to find him. They traveled an entire day and when it was getting dark met Rabbit. "Where are you going?" he said. "We are going to Bead-spitter's."
"Ku ku ku ku," he exclaimed, "you are naming somebody." "We do not know him," they replied, "but we thought there might be such a person and so we set out to find him."
"What do you want of him?" "We want some beads." "You can't go until morning," said Rabbit. "Remain here all night." They did so, and Rabbit slept with one of them. In the morning he had disappeared, but when he came back he had a mouthful of beads which he blew all about. The one he had slept with gathered them up and began stringing them, and she said to the other, "You
string some of these beads also," which she began doing.
Rabbit had taken these beads from the young buzzards while their mother was away, and when she came back they told her what he had done. At that she became angry and started off to Rabbit's house. There she called out, "Pasiko'lya' (a story name of Rabbit) what have you done to my children?
You have done them great injury.
When the young women heard these words they pulled off their beads, dropped them upon the ground, and started away. Late that evening they came upon Ground Squirrel (Tciloktco), and he said to them, "Where are you going?"
"We are going to Turkey-killer's (Pin- li'dja's)," they answered.
"It is a long distance," he replied. "You had better stay all night." They replied that they had been deceived before and hesitated to do so, but he answered that he was no "underminer," and he urged them to remain because it was late.
"As you come near the dwelling of Turkey-killer, you will begin to find turkey feathers, at first only a few and as you go on more and more.
They will be deeper and deeper and when they are over your heads you will have arrived at his house." "Then, we think we will stay with you," they answered. They did so, and set out again in the morning, but found that during the night Ground Squirrel had gotten inside of the dumplings (odjo'tadja-haga) they carried and eaten them all out.
By and by they came to the feathers which lay deeper upon the ground as they proceeded, and when these were over their heads they came out into the yard of Turkey-killer's house. "Whither are-you traveling?" said Turkey-killer.
"We heard that there was a bead-spitter and we wanted some beads. That is why we came." "I am the one," he answered, "but I cannot provide the beads until tomorrow morning and you must remain all night."
So the young women spent the night at that place. After daybreak the man came to them and said, "Was anything wrongful done to you while you were on the way?" The one with whom Rabbit had slept denied it. "Then everything will be all right," he said. He gave a new sofki riddle to each of them and continued, "Go to the creek and dip up water and if your story is true you can bring them back full but if it is false the water will run through." So
they went down to the creek and dipped their riddles into it, but when they took them up the water ran through the riddle of the woman with whom Rabbit had slept, while that in the other remained.
When she brought it to the house the man told her to sift, and as the water came through it turned into beads. Then he told both of them to string these beads, but while he kept the one who was honest as his wife, he sent the other back.
Sometime later Bead-spitter's wife was with child. Her husband was a great hunter and was off continually. One time he crossed the river in a canoe and went off hunting. When he came back, however, he found his canoe had been taken back to the side on which stood his dwelling. He shouted to his wife to come over and fetch him but she did not reply and he was obliged to swim across. In a window of his house he saw what appeared to be his wife painted and dressed in fine clothes and he said to her, "I shouted to you for a long time but it seems that you were too busily engaged in combing your hair to hear me." Then he punched at her with the butt of his gun and she fell back out of sight. He went in and then found that what he had taken for his wife was only an image of her. During his absence she had been eaten by a Kolowa ("Gorilla") who had afterwards set up the image. The Kolowa had, however, left the woman's abdomen, and on opening it the hunter found a baby inside, still alive. He saved it and took care of it, throwing the afterbirth into a thicket back of the house.
He fed his child, which was a boy, on gruel and soup. After some years had passed the child wanted a bow and arrows, and his father made some small ones for him. He was much surprised, however, when his son insisted that he make two bows with a blunt arrow and a sharp one for each. The man's
suspicions were aroused at this and so, when he started out hunting one day in accordance with his custom, he stole back and watched the house.
Presently he saw another boy come from the afterbirth, join his son, and play about with him. It was the first boy's twin.
Then the father crept away and began to plan how he should capture the second boy. First he thought he would turn himself into an arrow stuck in the ground at the edge of the yard and he did so, but when the wild boy came up he said, "That is your father," and he slunk away so that the man could not get him.
Next the man turned himself into a ball of white grass such as
is blown along the road by the wind, and the first boy said, "Let us see which can get it," but the wild boy answered, "That is your father." The third time the man assumed the form of a flying feather with the same result.
But finally the man got hold of him, he became tame, and both stayed there until they were grown up.
One day the man said to his two sons, "If the canoe is on your side of the stream and someone shouts to you to ferry them across, it will not be I. Do not do it. A wicked old woman ate your mother, and that is the one who will shout. So do not go for her."
After their father had left them the old woman came down to the other bank and called to be ferried across. Then the wild boy said, "Did not father say that if someone called out we were to take the canoe over and fetch her?"
But the other answered, "No, he said 'if anyone shouts do not take it over because that will be the one who devoured your mother.'" But the wild boy, whose name was Fatcasigo (Not-doing- right), insisted on going, and after they had disputed for a while he said, "If you do not agree to go I will chop you with father's ax."
The other was frightened at this and went with him. When they got to the place where the old woman was standing she said, "People always carry me on their backs and put me into the canoe," so Fatcasigo brought her down on his back. When she got into the canoe she said, "They always keep me on their
backs while I am in the canoe." And when they landed on the other side she said, "They always take me out on their backs." But when Fatcasigo stood on land with her she began to shout "Kolowa', Kolowa'" and stuck fast to him.
At that Fatcasigo became angry and punched her, but his fist stuck fast. He hit her with his other fist and that also stuck. He kicked her with one of his feet and that stuck. He fell down on the ground and kicked her with the other foot but that stuck. Then he butted her with his head and that stuck.
His brother got sticks and beat her with them but they merely stuck to her, so that he finally became angry and struck her with his fists, whereupon he too became stuck to her like his brother.
Presently the boy's father came home and shouted from the other side of the stream to be taken across. When he found that he was unable to arouse anyone he swam over. Seeing the fix into which his two sons had gotten, he said,
"Did not I tell you not to take the canoe across? Now I expect you will get some sense into your heads." He went into the house, prepared his dinner and then heated a quantity of water which he poured over the old woman. The boys were melted loose and the old woman flew away shouting "Kolowai' Kolowai'."
Before the man started out again he said to them, "You do not seem to have much sense, but I will tell you that up in that tree yonder are some eggs.
Do not climb up there and play with them." After he had started off, however, Fatcasigo said, "Did not he tell us to climb up into that tree and play with the eggs?" "No," said his brother, "He told us we must not." They disputed over it for a while until finally Fatcasigo said, "If you do not agree I will chop you with father's ax." "Go ahead, then," said his brother,
so they climbed up into the tree, brought down the eggs, and began playing with them. While they were doing so a storm overtook their father out in the woods, and he came back and ordered them to replace the eggs in the nest.
As they were engaged in doing this the lightning struck all about and they shouted "Sindadik, sindadik," and came down.
Next time the hunter started off he said nothing to his sons and Fatcasigo said, "Father is very angry with us. Let us follow him and see what he does."
Then they discovered that he had bear, deer, and all other sorts of game animals shut up in a corral, and after he left it, they went to the place, opened the gate, and let them all out. Then they came back to the house so quickly that they reached it before him.
The next time their father went to his corral he found his animals had been let out and his anger was very great. He said to his sons, when he got home,
"On the other side of the stream lives a man named Long-finger-nails (Kococup-tcapko) who has some tobacco. Go to him and get me some in exchange for this lead." So they set out with the lead but on the way Fatcasigo said to his companion, "He is sending us there because he is so angry with us that he wants us to die."
After they had gone on for a while they came to a deep lake which they could not cross. An Alligator, floating close to the shore, called out,
"What are you doing?" They replied, "Our father told us to go to Long-finger-nails for some tobacco and we are on the way to get it." "He sent you to something very bad," said the Alligator. "He wants him to devour you. I will put you across," he added, and he did so. Then he said to them, "Let the elder boy remain behind while the younger slips up and places lead in
Long-finger-nails' basket, taking out the tobacco and saying, 'I am exchanging lead for your tobacco.' Then he must run back as fast as he can."
The boys did as they had been directed and when the younger uttered the words which had been given to him Long-finger-nails made a grab for him with one hand. But in doing so he ran his finger nails so deep into a post that it took him a long time to get them out. Meanwhile the boys got back to the Alligator, mounted on his back and were nearly across the lake before
Long-finger-nails reached the opposite bank. The Alligator let them land and disappeared under the water before their pursuer caught sight of him. Then the monster said to the boys, "You had a very narrow escape. Who set you over?"
When the boys brought their tobacco in to their father, who had thought they were killed and eaten by that time, he said to them, "Well, did you make the trade?" "Yes, here is the tobacco," they said, and upon this their father got up and started off.
Then Fatcasigo said to his brother again, "Our father is very angry with us.
He is going to get some one to help him kill us. We will also be prepared."
So they collected quantities of bees and stinging insects of all sorts and filled the house with them. When it is time for him to come back we will set watches for him," they said, and they did so. The outermost picket was the Blue Crane (watula). The next was the Wild Goose (ahakwa). The next was the Pelican (sasa'kwa ha'gi). The last and nearest were Quails (kowaigi).
The Crane was stationed farthest out because it has the loudest voice. The Wild Goose was next because it has the next loudest voice. The Pelican was next because its voice is third in strength. Quails were placed last because they
make a noise with their wings when they fly up. After making these arrangements the boys lay down and listened.
By and by the boys heard the voice of the Crane and they said, "He is coming.
" A little later they heard the voice of the Goose, and they said, "He has gotten that far." Then the Pelican shouted and they said, "He is getting closer." And finally the Quails flew up with a
whirr and they said, "He is right here; let us make ready." So they climbed up on a beam inside of the house and began throwing down bees, wasps, and other stinging things, and
they kept this up until the house and yard were full of them. These settled all over their father and his warriors until they had stung them to death.
Then the boys stood up on the beam and said, "Our father must be lying somewhere about; let us go down and hunt for him." By and by they found him and said, "Our father is lying here." The boys had their bows and arrows with them, and when they found their father they took off his breech-clout
and rubbed an arrow over his buttocks.
At once he flew up in the form of a crow, shouting "Ga ga ga ga."
Thus the crow was once a human being. It eats watermelons and corn and is very destructive. It is very much afraid of a bow and arrow because its buttocks were once rubbed with an arrow. For this reason people used to keep a bow and arrows about to scare it away.
After that the boys said, "We must be bad boys. We had better separate."
"Do you want to go to the east or west?" said Fatcasigo to his elder brother, and the latter answered, "I will go toward the east." The younger said, "I will go to the west, and whenever you see a red cloud in the west you will know that I am there." The elder brother replied, "And whenever you see a red cloud in the east you will know that I am there." That is the end.
A Cherokee Legend
In the long ago time, there was a Cherokee Clan call the Ani-Tsa-gu-hi
(Ahnee-Jah-goo-hee), and in one family of this clan was a boy who used to leave home and be gone all day in the mountains. After a while he went oftener and stayed longer, until at last he would not eat in the house at all, but started off at daybreak and did not come back until night. His parents scolded, but that did no good, and the boy still went every day until they noticed that long brown hair was beginning to grow out all over his body. Then they wondered and asked him why it was that he wanted to be
so much in the woods that he would not even eat at home. Said the boy, "I find plenty to eat there, and it is better than the corn and beans we have in the settlements, and pretty soon I am going into the woods to say all the time." His parents were worried and begged him not leave them, but he
said, "It is better there than here, and you see I am beginning to be different already, so that I can not live here any longer. If you will come with me, there is plenty for all of us and you will never have to work for it; but if you want to come, you must first fast seven days."
The father and mother talked it over and then told the headmen of the clan.
They held a council about the matter and after everything had been said they decided: "Here we must work hard and have not always enough. There he says is always plenty without work. We will go with him." So they fasted seven days, and on the seventh morning al the Ani-Tsa-gu-hi left the settlement and started for the mountains as the boy led the way.
When the people of the other towns heard of it they were very sorry and sent their headmen to persuade the Ani Tsaguhi to stay at home and not go into the woods to live. The messengers found them already on the way, and were surprised to notice that their bodies were beginning to be covered with hair
like that of animals, because for seven days they had not taken human food and their nature was changing. The Ani Tsaguhi would not come back, but said,
"We are going where there is always plenty to eat. Hereafter we shall be called Yonv(a) (bears), and when you yourselves are hungry come into the woods and call us and we shall come to give you our own flesh. You need not be afraid to kill us, for we shall live always." Then they taught the messengers the songs with which to call them and bear hunters have these songs still. When they had finished the songs, the Ani Tsaguhi started on
again and the messengers turned back to the settlements, but after going a little way they looked back and saw a drove of bears going into the woods.
One day long ago a traveling party of the Kiowa People were crossing the great prairie and camped by a
stream. Many of the Bear People lived nearby, and they smelledthe Kiowa People. The Bear People were hungry, and some of the bear warriors went out to hunt the Kiowa People.
Seven young girls from the Kiowa camp were out gathering berries, up along the stream, far from the
campsite. The Bears came upon them and growled to attack. The girls ran and ran, out across the open prairie, until they came to a large gray rock. They climbed onto the rock, but the bears began to climb the rock also.
The girls began to sing a prayer to the rock, asking it to protect them form the Bear People. No one had ever honored the rock before, and the rock agreed to help them. The rock, who had laid quietly for centuries, began to stand up and reach to the
sky. The girls rose higher and higher as the rock stood up. The bear warriors began to sing to the
bear gods, and the bears grew taller as the rock rose up.
The bears tried and tried to climb the rock as it grew steeper and higher, but their huge claws only split the rock face into thousands of strips as the rock grew up out of their reach. Pieces of rock were scraped and cut away by the thousands and fell in piles at the foot of the rock. The rock was cut and scarred on all
of its sides as the bears fought to climb it.
At last, the bears gave up the hunt, and turned to go back to their own houses. They slowly returned to the original sizes. As the huge bears came back across the prairie, slowly becoming smaller, the Kiowas saw them and broke camp. They fled in fear, and looking back at the towering mountain of rock, they guessed that it must be the lodge of these giant bears. "Tso' Ai'," some People say today, or "Bears' Lodge."
The Kiowa girls were afraid, high up on the rock, and they saw their People break camp and leave them there, thinking the girls had all already been eaten by the bears.
The girls sang again, this time to the stars. The stars were happy to hear their song, and the stars came down and took the seven girls into the sky, the Seven Sisters, and each night they pass over Bears' Lodge and smile in
gratitude to the rock spirit.
As soon as Big Long Man got back from the mountains he went to his garden to admire his corn and melons. He had planted a big crop for the coming winter.
When he saw that half of the corn stalks had been shucked and the ears stolen, and that the biggest melons were gone off of the melon vines, he was very angry.
"Who stole my corn and melons?" he muttered to himself. "I'll catch the thief, whoever he is."
He began to scheme. The next day he built a fence around the garden. But the fence did no good. Each morning Big Long Man found more corn stalks stripped.
At last he thought up a scheme to catch the thief. He gathered a great ball of pine pitch and molded it into the shape of a man. He set the figure up in the corn field and then went to his hogan.
That night Skunk came along to get a bit of corn for his dinner. He had heard from Badger that Big Long Man was away in the mountains. He squeezed his body under the fence and waddled up to a clump of corn. He was just about to shuck a fat ear when he noticed a man standing by the fence. Skunk let go of the ear of corn in fright. He could see in the moonlight that the man
was not Big Long Man. He waddled over to the fence and spoke to the figure.
"Who are you, in Big Long Man's corn patch?'' asked Skunk.
The figure did not answer.
"Who are you?" said Skunk again, moving closer.
The figure did not answer.
"Speak!" said Skunk boldly, "or I will punch your face."
The figure did not say a word. It did not move an inch.
"Tell me who you are," said Skunk a fourth time, raising his fist, "or I will punch your face."
The figure said not a word. It was very quiet in the moonlit corn field.
Even the wind had gone away.
Plup went Skunk's fist into the pine gum face. It sunk into the soft pitch, which is as sticky as glue, and there it stuck. Skunk pulled and pulled.
"If you don't let go my hand," he shouted, "I will hit you harder with my
But the pine pitch held tight.
Plup went Skunk's left hand. Now both hands stuck fast.
"Let go my hands, or I will kick you," cried Skunk, who was by this time getting mad.
B The pine gum man did not let go.
Plup, Skunk gave a mighty kick with his right foot. The foot stuck too, just like the hands.
"I will kick you harder," said Skunk and Plup he kicked with all of his strength with his left foot. Pine gum man held that foot too. Skunk struggled but he could not get loose. Now he was in a fine plight. Every limb was held tight. He had only one more weapon, his teeth.
"I will bite your throat," he shouted and he dug his teeth into the pine gum throat.
"Ugh!" he gurgled for he could no longer say a word. His tongue and teeth were held fast in the pine pitch.
The next morning Big Long Man came to his corn patch and there was Skunk stuck onto the pine gum man. Only his tail was free, waving behind him.
"Ah!" said Big Long Man. "So it's you, Skunk, who has been stealing my corn."
"Ugh," replied Skunk. His mouth full of pine pitch.
Big Long Man pulled him away from the gum figure, tied a rope around his neck and led him to his hogan. He put a great pot of water on the stove to boil, then he took the rope off of Skunk's neck.
"Now, Skunk," he said, "go fetch wood."
Skunk went out into the back yard. Just then Fox happened to pass by. He was on his way to Big Long Man's corn patch. Skunk began to cry loudly. Fox stopped running, and pricked up his sharp ears.
"Who is crying?" he said.
"I am crying," said Skunk.
"Why?" said Fox.
"Because I have to carry wood for Big Long Man. He gives me all of the corn I want to eat, but I do not want to carry wood."
Fox was hungry. He knew that if he stole corn he was liable to get caught.
"What an easy way to get corn," he thought. "I would not mind carrying wood."
Out loud he said, "Cousin, let us change places. You go home and I will carry wood for Big Long Man. I like the job. Besides, I was just on my way to steal an ear of corn down at the field."
"All right," said Skunk. "But don't eat too much corn. I have a stomach ache.
" He felt his fat stomach and groaned. Then he waddled happily away. Fox gathered up an armful of piñon wood. He hurried into Big Long Man's hogan.
Big Long Man looked at him in surprise.
"Well, well, Skunk, you changed into a fox, did you? That's funny."
Fox did not say a word. He was afraid he might say the wrong thing and not get any corn to eat. Big Long Man took the rope which had been around Skunk's neck and tied it around Fox's neck.
Fox sat down and waited patiently. Soon the water in the big pot began to bubble and steam. At last Fox said, "Isn't the corn cooked yet,
Big Long Man?"
"Corn?" asked Big Long Man. "What corn?"
"Why the corn you are cooking for me," said Fox. "Skunk said you would feed me all of the corn I could eat if I carried wood for you."
"The rascal," said Big Long Man. "He tricked you and he tricked me. Well, Fox, you will have to pay for this." So saying he picked up Fox by the ears and set him down in the boiling water. It was so hot that it took off every hair on his body. Big Long Man left him in the pot for a minute and then he pulled him out by the ears and set him free out of doors.
"Don't be thinking you will ever get any of my corn by tricks," said Big Long Man.
Fox ran yelping toward his den. He was sore all over. Half way home he passed Red Monument. Red Monument is a tall slab of red sand stone that stands alone in a valley. On top of the rock sat Raven eating corn that he had stolen from the corn patch. At the bottom was Coyote holding on to the rock with his paws. He was watching for Raven to drop a few kernels. He
glanced behind him when Fox appeared. He did not let go of the rock, however, because he thought Fox might get his place. He was surprised at Fox's appearance.
"Where is your fur, Fox?" he asked over his shoulder.
"I ate too much corn," said Fox sadly. "Don't ever eat too much corn, Coyote. It is very painful." Fox held his stomach and groaned. "Corn is very bad for one's fur. It ruined mine."
"But where did you get so much corn, cousin?" asked Coyote, still holding on to the rock.
"Didn't you hear?" asked Fox. "Why, Big Long Man is giving corn to all the animals who carry wood for him. He will give you all you can eat and more too. Just gather an armful of piñon sticks and walk right into his hogan."
Coyote thought a moment. He was greedy. He decided to go to Big Long Man's hogan but he did not want Fox to go with him. He wanted everything for himself.
"Cousin," he said, "will you do me a favor? Will you hold this rock while I go and get a bite of corn from Big Long Man? I am very hungry and I do not dare leave this rock. It will fall and kill somebody."
"All right," said Fox, smiling to himself. "I will hold the rock. But do not eat too much." He placed his paws on the back side of the rock and Coyote let go. The next minute Coyote was running away as fast as he could toward Big Long Man's hogan. Fox laughed to himself, but after a bit he became tired of holding the rock. He decided to let it fall.
"Look out, Cousin Raven," he shouted. "The rock is going to fall." Fox let go, and jumped far away. Then he ran and did not look behind. He was afraid the rock would hit his tail. If Fox had looked behind him he would have seen the rock standing as steady as a mountain.
Presently, along came Coyote, back from Big Long Man's hogan. He was running at top speed and yowling fearfully. There was not a hair left on his body.
When he came to Red Monument he saw Raven still sitting on his high perch nibbling kernels of corn.
"Where has Fox gone?" howled Coyote who was in a rage.
Raven looked down at Coyote. "Fox?" he said. "Why, Fox went home, I suppose.
What did you do with your hair, Coyote?"
Coyote didn't answer. He just sat down by the foot of the rock and with his snout up in the air waited for Raven to drop a few kernels of corn.
"I'll get Fox some other day," he muttered to himself.