Kangaroo-Rat Races with Coyote and Others

Published on January 27, 2013 by Carol

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the Achomawi

Two Kangaroo-Rat women, a mother and her daughter, lived near Coyote’s place. Now the people at this place hunted all the time, but never sent any meat to the old woman. She said, “It is best to get a man to hunt for us. I do not like these people; they are too proud.” Her daughter said, “I will run a race with these men, and I’ll bet myself against a man. I’ll win and have a husband.”

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The next morning the girl went over to Coyote’s house when the men were just through breakfast. She went on top of the sweat-house and called out, “I want to run a race with one of your boys; to-day I feel like running.”

Coyote said, “All right. The chief men always run first. I will run with you first.” He went out, and they started towards the north, and ran until he fell down dead. The girl came home, and that night Cocoon-Man said, “I know what she is trying to do. When women want to marry us, they always kill us first. These are bad women.”

Next day she came to the house, and asked again to run with a man. Badger ran with her. He ran northward, turned to come back, reached a mountain-top, and died. Next day Silver-Fox went out to run with her. He ran far to the north, came back halfway, and fell dead. Ground-Squirrel ran, came halfway home, and died. Kangaroo-Rat was coming home slowly. She came more slowly each time. First she had always returned in the middle of the morning, but this time she was back about noon. The mother thought, “My daughter will fail. I am afraid she gets tired too easily.” The girl ran the next day with Wolf, but he died, and she reached home still later.

Now she had killed all but three men. Pine-Marten ran the next day. They kept together. The girl thought he was going to win; but when he came into the valley and almost reached home, he fell dead. The last men left were Weasel and his brother from the mountain. They were angry because Pine-Marten had been killed. They were going to take an otter-skin quiver. One of the brothers was to rest in it; so when the other became tired, this one would jump out and carry the tired one. When then the other one had rested and was fresh, he would jump out and take his turn. Thus they would run and carry each other alternately. The two looked just alike, and the girl thought she was running with one. The mountain brother of Weasel sang. They ran near the girl all the time. They found the bones of Coyote, picked them up, and put them in the otter-skin quiver. They came to the other bones and picked them up also. While they were picking up the bones, the girl, thinking she had beaten Weasel, turned and looked back. He called out, “Don’t look back. I can outrun you. Girls cannot run fast.” She was frightened at his words, and ran on as fast as possible. When one brother was tired, the other came out, and the first went into the quiver. Weasel called out, “Run fast, I am going to beat you.” Now the girl began to give out. While Weasel was running, she thought she noticed a difference in the song, and looked back. He called out, “Go on fast!” It was near sundown now. The old woman saw them coming. The two Weasel brothers as one, reached the sweathouse first. The young woman went with them to their sweat-house, and did not go back to her mother. That evening they put the bones in water, and the dead all came to life. The girl went in the morning to her mother’s house to get roots, and the men went hunting. She always sent plenty of meat to her mother after that.

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