A Speech By Leaford Bearskin
Many moons ago our Indian elders passed on our culture and traditions to our children by word of mouth. Many stories were told at night around individual family campfires and tribal community campfires. Stories were told for entertainment. Many were told to pass on moral issues for youngsters to interpret and abide with in their daily lives.
This story I am about to tell you is one for entertainment and teaches a moral. Other stories will follow from time to time covering all aspects of our Indian world.
“Why A Coyote’s Eyes Are Yellow”
A long time ago a crow became bored with his life and decided to leave his territory and seek a new place to live. Mr. Crow flew for several sleeps to the east, the west, the north, and to the south. He became tired of flying one day and perched on top of a large rock to rest for a while. Mr. Crow knew he had much territory to cover that day and decided to send his eyes out over the territory while he rested and his eyes would return to him and tell him what they had seen. He sent his eyes to the east, the west, the north, and the south. They flew over mountains, rivers, deserts, and forests and returned to Mr. Crow and reported what they had observed.
Underneath the rock that Mr. Crow had perched on Mr. Coyote had stopped to rest in the shade and to take a nap. Mr. Coyote awoke and saw what Mr. Crow was doing. Mr. Coyote spoke to Mr. Crow and asked him to share his secret so that Mr. Coyote could send his eyes out to look for a new place to live. Mr. Crow told Mr. Coyote that what he was doing was very dangerous and could result in something bad if it was abused. Mr. Coyote convinced Mr. Crow that he would be very careful if Mr. Crow would tell him his secret. Mr. Crow showed Mr. Coyote how to send his eyes out over the territory. Mr. Coyote became so excited that he ignored Mr. Crow’s repeated warning to be careful. Mr. Coyote sent his eyes over the mountains, the desert, the streams, and the mountains. He sent them out in all directions. Mr. Crow warned Mr. Coyote again to be very careful. Mr. Coyote again ignored Mr. Crow’s warning and sent his eyes out again. His eyes traveled out and passed behind a mountain and disappeared.
Mr. Coyote wandered around the territory for two or three days without any eyes. Becoming tired again he bumped into a tree and slid to a sitting position at the bottom of the tree. The tree that Mr. Coyote was sitting under had recently been struck by lightning. There was a rip in the bark of the tree from its top to the around. When Mr. Coyote leaned back against the ripped bark of the tree to rest he felt something warm and sticky against his back. Out of the ripped bark of the tree a yellow sap had oozed and this is what Mr. Coyote felt on his back.
Mr. Coyote reached back and pinched off some of the yellow sap and rolled it into a ball. “Aha!” he exclaimed,” I will make myself some new eyes.” He placed the ball into his eye socket and it really worked. He reached back and got another pinch of sap and rolled it into a ball and made himself another eye.
This is why, to this day, that the eyes of a coyote are yellow!
Leaford Bearskin, Chief
Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma