Coyote and the Crying Song – Retold by Harold Courlander
This is folklore of the Hopi Indians, a Native American people living in northeastern Arizona. Coyote is the main character in the story, which is known as a troublemaker and trickster in Native American folklore.
The story,Coyote and the Crying Song, begins this way:
A dove is gathering the seeds of the kwakwi grass. Accidentally, the sharp blade of grass cuts her hand, therefore, in pain, she begins to cry. Her moan sounds “Hu-hu-huuu! Ho-uuu- ho-uuu!” At the same time, Coyote happens to pass that way for hunting. He listens to her cry, and he thinks the dove is singing a song. Besides, he likes that sound produced by the dove. Therefore, he goes near to the dove and says the song was beautiful. He asks the dove to sing again so that he could take that song home with him. However, the bird replies that she was not singing instead she was moaning in pain for her hand was cut. Yet, Coyote frowns because she denies singing. At last, the helpless dove agrees to sing because if she didn’t then her life would be in danger. So, she makes the same sound “Hu-hu-huuu! Ho-uuu- ho-uuu!”
Coyote listens to her attentively memorizing each part. After she finishes, he runs toward his home in order to put it safely there. But he collapses on the small ditch before getting home. He forgets the song. Comes back again and commands the dove to sing again. The poor dove does what he asks her to do. Again, he tries to remember the song by heart, but again he falls on the ground and forgets the song. However, he blames the bird for her song being slippery. The same act repeats a couple of times.
Eventually, the dove thinks, to flying away from there is a good idea instead of getting threatened by Coyote. Hence, she finds a small stone in which she draws her own picture and flies away. Coyote comes back at the same spot with extreme wrath. Thus, it attacks the bird but the stone breaks its teeth and his mouth begins to bleed. Now it’s Coyote’s turn to moan. Therefore, he makes the same sound as the bird was making a little while ago. Just at that moment, a crow appears there and says to Coyote that he is singing a beautiful song. And Coyote answers that crow people cannot even distinguish between singing and crying.
Moral: Coyote and the Crying Song
Education should be practical. To learn by heart is just like Coyote trying to memorize the song. Although you would be able to remember what you read, for the time being, it would not be effective. Therefore, students should learn to not only memorize but also learn to understand what they read. On top of that, it is important to apply the knowledge you acquire in your pragmatic life.