Coyote (Navajo mythology)

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Coyote (Navajo: mąʼii) is an irresponsible and trouble-making character and he is one of the most important and revered characters in Navajo mythology.[1] Even though Tó Neinilii is the Navajo god of rain, Coyote also has powers over rain.[1] Coyote's ceremonial name is Áłtsé hashké which means "first scolder".[1]


Coyote looks like a coyote in animal form and he looks like a man with a mustache in human form.[1]

Coyoteway ceremony[edit]

The Coyoteway ceremony is a healing ceremony that is completed in a hogan. The healer sings a song while the person to be healed is in smoke. The person to be healed takes on the role of Coyote and apologizes for his or her wrongdoings.[1]


Creation of lunar phases story[edit]

Coyote argues against the simplicity of the day and night scheme where animals are awake and animals sleep. This leads to the creation of the movement of the stars, the lunar phases and creation of months.[1]

Coyote is also involved the stories that are about the naming of the months.[1]

Creation of Fifth World story[edit]

Coyote provides the opposition needed that leads to First Man and First Woman creating the Fifth World.[1]

Changing Bear story[edit]

Coyote wins Changing Bear (Navajo: Asdzání shash nádleehé) as his wife and he uses his magic to make her evil like him. Coyote tricks her into having sexual intercourse with him.[1]

After Changing Bear became evil, Coyote taught Changing Bear the way to use water to divine the location of her brothers. Changing Bear used this ability to find her brothers. In human form, she tells her brothers that she wants to comb their hair and remove their lice like she used to do before she was evil, so they turn their backs to her. Then, she transforms into a she-bear and she kills them.[1]

The moral of this story is to not be like Coyote.[1]

Twin brothers story[edit]

Twin brothers are told by their parents to not hunt far away from home and not to go east, but they do this anyway. The twins return and they tell their parents that they saw Coyote. Their parents warn them to stay away from Coyote and they say Coyote was spying for the Horned Monster (Navajo: Déélgééd) who has been following the Navajo since their existence.[1]

Milky Way creation story[edit]

In one story, Black God was also busy making the other constellations by carefully ordering the stars in the sky when Coyote became impatient and blew the remaining stars from a blanket or pouch into the sky, forming the Milky Way.[2] This story explains the reason some stars are dimmer than others, because Black God did not light the ones Coyote blew into the sky on fire.[3] In another version of the story, Black God made the Milky Way on purpose.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Zolbrod, P.G. (1984) Diné bahane': The Navajo creation story. University of New Mexico Press.: USA. ISBN 978-0-8263-1043-9
  2. ^ Lynch, P.A. "Black God." Native American Mythology, Mythology A to Z. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. American Indian History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from link.
  3. ^ a b Schulz, T. (2005). Mask of the Black God:The Pleiades in Navajo Cosmology. National center for case study teaching in science. Originally published link Retrieved September 14, 2012, from [ link]