November is fast drawing to a close and with it our look at Native American folklore from the four directions. While coyotes are seemingly everywhere, the nations of the western part of our country have some of the best folktales and mythology about coyotes. Looking to find something, preferably a whole book of coyote tales I discovered Old Man Coyote by Clara Bayliss back when I was just a little over a month into beginning the Keeping the Public in Public Domain segments with her "How Coyote Brought Fish and Fire to the Indians". At that time I didn't say anything about Bayliss, but go to that Wikipedia hotlink to see she was born here in Michigan on a Kalamazoo farm and obtained both her bachelor's and master's degree from Michigan's very independent Hillsdale College before going on to become an educational pioneer and writer. Often her books were folklore, especially publishing Native American stories. Many can be found online, but Old Man Coyote, unfortunately, is not one of them. Back when I published her first story I said:
For those wanting sources on the stories in Old Man Coyote, Ms. Bayliss cites sources like Curtin, Boas, Mathews, Teit, Bancroft, and the Journal of American Folk Lore, but she does not attempt to give specifics as to the origins of her retellings. It's up to you if you are so caught up by Coyote that you must know more, or just enjoy a good story. Unfortunately this volume has not yet been preserved online. Her only work e-published so far is A Treasury of Eskimo Tales. Northwest native trickster, Raven, makes his appearance there.
I'm grateful that more of her work is now available, but really want Old Man Coyote available. If you want to see more about her sources, she gives their titles and volume information in her Preface, but her "How the Stories Came to Be Told" narrows her work to the coyote stories of the Navaho and Ute people.
The name of Old Man Coyote is also the title of the 1931 book by Frank B. Linderman of coyote tales from the Crow (Absaroka) people of southeastern Montana. The book was renewed so Public Domain must wait until 2026 (95 years). Calling him Old Man Coyote is fairly common & Thornton W. Burgess wrote The Adventures of Old Man Coyote. Burgess books, including this one, however, tend to bring facts about animals in an anthropomorphic style to make them interesting especially to children.
The coyote of Bayliss is the "pourquois" trickster tale, telling how things came to be. Obviously Bayliss enjoyed tricksters like Coyote and Raven. As I said so long ago, "I confess it, I enjoy Coyote and other Tricksters. Some might question holding up such rascals as folk heroes, but usually when they behave unacceptably, they get what they deserve. That's a worthwhile lesson to come from folktales and, with tricksters, it is usually done in an enjoyable way that doesn't feel like a sermon. But Coyote, Raven, and others sometimes even surprise us by using their very trickiness to produce something good!"
I'm not sure today's tale has Coyote producing something good. In many ways it's closer to the foolish Coyote of Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons. For that reason, even though the book has illustrations by E. Warde Blaisdell, I went looking for pictures of a coyote jumping. There are many, especially in the snow, but this picture by Chris Dinych at Furaffinity.net better captures the spirit of Coyote in this story. I tried to learn more about the artist and found https://toyhou.se/Dinych/created and at https://toyhou.se/Dinych/art with this information card at https://dinychinfo.carrd.co/, listing herself as a Digital artist | Anthro artist | Feral artist and at https://www.instagram.com/verylazywolf/?hl=en we learn "Chris/Dinych | 18 | ? | Animals artist/ Digital artist | RUS/ENG | I like to draw canines and felines" (You can follow her on Instagram, but her Twitter account has been removed.) If you like canines and are seeking art, perhaps you can discover for yourself this young talent.
Now it is time to jump into the story.
That "The End" is because the story is the final tale in the book, but obviously not the end of thoughts on coyotes. While Coyote the trickster may not really have lost his magic in stories, it's a fact that real life coyotes can cause problems. Here's a good reminder.
Today's story, because it isn't otherwise available (yet) online shows the problems of scanning from a book with slightly crooked pages. At the same time I can see how I've learned ways to present stories better since the Keeping the Public in Public Domain segments began.
- There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection. I have long recommended it and continue to do so. He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
- You may have noticed I'm no
longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his
offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking
specific types of stories. There's another site, FairyTalez
claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales,
folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for
phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
- Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links. Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job. In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it. Possibly searches maintained it. Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine. It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!