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Sk'elep or Coyote is the traditional trickster figure in the pantheon of Secwepemc mythology. He is featured in many legends and has many powers, including the ability to die and come back to life. Like the animal his character is enjoined to, he is very clever. But like all intelligent beings, he can also have his foolish moments and can make emblematic mistakes that people can learn from. For example, according to a traditional Secwepemc story, he once decided that he had to climb into a tree and spin a web like a spider. The only result of this misguided idea was that he left behind clumps of his hair in the tree. This magical hair, however, became wila (Bryoria fremontii), a species of lichen which is sometimes also called 'wile' (pronounced weel-eh) in the Secwepemc language. In some other Interior Salish cultures, he went into the tree for other reasons; for example, in Colville-Okanagan culture, Coyote was dropped into the tree by some swans he'd grabbed in a hunt. In this story also, though, his hair became the hair moss lichen.[citation needed]


Turner, NJ. 1977. Economic importance of black tree lichen (Bryoria fremontii) to the Indians of western North America. Econ. Bot. 31: 461-470.

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