Spider Grandmother and Coyote

I love Coyote stories, and this is one of my favorites, as well as being real charming - Coyote's naughtiness only causes good things here!

To read the story, scroll below the image.

This painting is acrylic on raw cotton gauze with saguaro rib frame, @ 18"H x 24"W. c. 1998 by Luna Rivera (signed "Turtle Woman")

A Hopi tale of the "emergence" tells how when the people first climbed up Sipapu and entered the Fourth World, they migrated a long time before settling in the place where you'll find them still. They traveled along in the dark, as the Lights we are familiar with that live in the Sky had not assumed their places yet.

In this darkness the people traveled along. Spider Grandmother was with them, and Coyote trotted along at her side. The old lady carried a very large pottery jar with her, which she closely protected, and kept wrapped up in finely-woven blankets.

One time, when the people settled down to rest after a long session of walking, Coyote slept at Grandmother's side...but he only pretended to sleep. Lying quite still, he saw something wonderful. After observing that everyone seemed to be asleep, Spider Grandmother carefully unwrapped the big jar she so carefully guarded. As she took the wrappings off, the mouth of the jar blazed with a glorious light. Then Grandmother reached into the jar and took out a handful of luminous scraps. Reaching upward she began to place them into the sky. There! She placed the North Star. And There! She placed the Great Bear. And then the Little Bear. Other glowing shapes she placed in the sky as well, until she had used up the amazing blazing handful of stars. Then she seemed to feel that this was enough for one sitting: she rewrapped the cherished pot of light and laid back to sleep herself.

Coyote stayed still, pretending, until he was sure Spider Grandmother was fast asleep. Inside himself, he was so excited! He wanted to place stars too! He jumped up, and nosed aside the wrappings of the pot. As he pushed the weavings away, the pot rolled over on it's side, and all the stars came streaming out in a rush! Up they flew and created a river of light across the sky. Coyote jumped and yapped with joy. As he jumped his nose got a little into the edge of the stream of stars and got singed just a little bit on the end.

And this is why the Milky Way streams like a river across the Sky; and Coyotes' noses are so black!