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Coyote and the Setting of the Stars

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January 11, 2010
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 4:55 pm    Post subject: Coyote and the Setting of the Stars Reply with quote

This story is for a friend~ and is traditional telling
sourced from several people, and not my own
original story.

If I am incorrect in way, please be patient with me,
and let me know :)

I love the stories of Native Peoples, and enjoy
collecting them for personal enjoyment.

This is a learning journey for me, and love to share...

Coyote and the Setting of the Stars

( Coyote Threw the Stars Up ~ Ma'ii So' Yáyiighaz )

This is the Navajo story of how the moon (T'éhonaa'éí)
and sun (Jíhonaa'éí) were created, and how the Coyote
(Átsé Hashké) was responsible for the arrangement of
the stars as they are today.

Ak'idáá' dajiní (a long time ago, they used to say), the Holy
People (Diyin Dine'é) came together and had a meeting.
During this time, there was no sun, moon, or stars in
existence. Because the world was quite cold and dark
at this time, they decided to create the sun and moon.
Because Coyote (Átsé Hashké) had gotten them into
trouble already, they left him out of these plans.

They formed the sun out of hard goods (nit'iz), seeds
(álástsii'), and corn (naadáá'), which looked like puberty
cake (yílkaad). For the moon, they used a perfect white
shell. Both of these they laid down on a buckskin that was
killed without any arrows (doo k'áá' k'ehii). While they were
busy planning the arrangement of the stars, coyote came up
to them and asked, "What are you guys planning?" The first
three times they responded, "We're not doing anything." The
fourth time he inquired, they said, "We're busy with something
very important. Leave us alone until we are done." Hurt and
offended, Coyote ran over a hill and was not seen for some

The Holy People had asked one of Changing Woman's sons
Turquoise Boy (Doot'izhii Ashkii) to enter the Sun. White
Shell Girl (Yoogai At'eed) was asked to enter the the moon.
Both were given a flute that would cause both the Sun and
Moon to move in proper synchronization when they were played.

First Man (Átsé Hastiin) and First Woman (Átsé Asdzáá) planned
sun to follow certain trails (Jóhonaa'éí Bitiin). The sun would have
102 trails. The moon would also follow particular trails (T'ehonaa'éí
Bitiin). So they also decided the moon would have 102 trails. Both
of their flight patterns would cross in March (Wóózch'ííd) and
September (Bini'anit'ááts'ósí). Both Turquoise Boy and White Shell
Girl wanted reimbursement, saying that their ability to provide light
would not be free. In payment for this, Turquoise Boy said that a
portion of the earth's population would have to pay with their lives.
White Shell Girl wanted the authority to control the tides with
her movements. The Holy People agreed that this would be a
good arrangement. For this reason, the sun sets lower in the
horizon in July and returns in December giving us the summer
and winter months, and the moon has the ability to control the
tides. Among medicine men, the point at which the sun starts
returning is called Shá Niiltah* (when the sun stops moving),
which is the winter and summer solstices.

Before the Holy People had begun planning how the stars
would be arranged, Coyote ran among the people from over
the horizon, grabbed the bucksin sheet that the stars were laid
upon with his teeth, and threw the stars up in the sky, scattering
them in an un-organized arrangement across the sky.

The Holy People then asked, "Why have you done this?"
Coyote responded, "You left me out of your decision-making."
After that, Coyote started naming the various constellations.
"This will be called Náhookos Bika'ii (Northern Male), and that
will be his partner, Náhookos Bi'áadii (Northern Female). Both
will circle around Náhookos Biko'í (Northern Fire), representing
a man and wife around the hogan fire. That will be Dilyéhé
(Planting Stars), that will be called Hastiin Sik'a'í (Squatting Man),
Ma'ii Ats'áá' Yílwoí (Coyote's Running Apart), So' ání (Many Stars),
Hooghání (the home), eeh Sis (unknown translation), So' Bidee'í
(Horned Star), So' Ahóts'i'í (Pinched Stars), Átsé Etsoh (First Big
One), Átsé Ets'osí (First Skinny One), Gah Haat'e'ii (Rabbit Tracks),
and Yikáísdáhí (Waiting For Dawn)." Coyote named all the
constellations, many of which are no longer remembered. After
he was done, one star fell back to earth. Coyote picked it up and
said, "This will be my star. It will be called So' Tsoh (Big Star)."
He h--- this at the horizon, and still shines brightly there early in
the morning.

After this Coyote continued. "Because I was left out, I will add
extra days so the months will not be even. I will also change
the moon's flight patterns so there will be 13 moon periods,
and not 12 alone." That's how the stars came into their
arrangement, dajinóo (they say).

Additional Note:

Navajo for 'Constellation' is "So' Dine'é" or "Star People."

Náhookos Bika'ii (Northern Male)
The Big Dipper.

Náhookos Bi'áadii (Northern Female)
The constellation Cassiopeia.

Náhookos Biko' (Northern Fire)
The North Star Polaris.

Hastiin Sik'ai'í (Squatting Man)
The star Spica in constellation of Virgo.

Átse Etsoh (First Great One)
The star of Anteres near constellations Sagittarius & Libra.

Átse Ats'oosí (First Slender One)
The constellation Orion.

Dilyéhé (The Planters)
Pleiades constellation.

Gah Haat'e'ii (Rabbit Tracks)
Scorpio constellation.

Yikáísídáhí (It Waits For Dawn)
The Milky Way.

So' Tsoh (Coyote Star)
The Morning star or Venus.

So' Ahóóts'i'í ( Pinched Stars)
Aldebaran or Alpha Tauri.

Other Space terms...

So' Bitsee' Nineezí (Star With A Long Tail)
Halley's Comet

So' Hidilyeed (Stars Running After Another)
Falling Stars as seen in the night sky.

So' Nnalts'id (Falling Star)
Another word for Falling Stars.

So' Nídiilwod ( Speeding Star)
Another term for Falling Stars.

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