Black panther_credit: Bruce Mcadamwc
Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache
Panther and Coyote
Coyote was sleeping on the other side of the fire. “Let us go over here,” he told Panther with whom he was living. “There is a good nest on the cliff.” They two went there. When Panther climbed up, Coyote spoke to the rock, saying, “Grow up with him.” The rock began growing up. It was very high when it stopped growing. Panther looked down to the bottom and saw a fire burning there. When he saw it he cried. He sat in the nest with Eagle’s children. While he was sitting there a number of eagles flew down from the sky. They put a feather shirt on the man and he flew up with them. As they flew up they sang, “We are going up, Yaoina.”
When he got up to the sky he found many fruits there. They gave him a wife. They had such things as pumpkins, melons, and gourds for enemies. Bees were their enemies also. These hawk people used to go to war and fight their enemies. Panther went and fought with them. He kicked and struck them, killing them all. When he came back he looked down toward the earth. The man who had given him his daughter told him that if he were wishing he could go home, he might do so.
Then they put four kinds of feather shirts on him and went down with him. They flew under him as he went down. They sang, “yakigolnadazza yaxinnahi.”
They came down to the ground near where he was taken away. They told him he must not let anyone see the feather shirts they had given him.
He went to the place where his house had stood. There was nothing there but the remains of the house. He asked the charred remains of the fire, how many years ago the people had moved away. They told him five. He went on and found where a house had been. He asked the poles of which the house was made how many years it had been since the people left. Four, he was told. He went on and came where a house had been. He asked the old beds how many years since the people had left. They told him three. He went on again and came to another place where they had lived and asked the brush shelter how many years had passed since the people left. It told him two years. He went on until he came to another deserted dwelling. There he questioned the ashes and received the answer that the people had left a year before. He went to still another place where a house had been. He asked the cuds of cactus which had been chewed and rejected how long before the people had left. They told him that they had left that very morning.
Then he went on and overtook them. They were going along ahead of him, the woman carrying a burden basket in which his own boy was sitting. “Mother,” he said, “father is behind us.” Coyote’s children were in the basket too, hanging over its side.
His former wife came to an arroyo and built a house. When Coyote went off hunting, Panther told his wife to bathe, which she did. Then Panther took out Coyote’s children and threw them away, leaving only one. He sat down inside, hiding himself.
When Coyote came back from hunting he said to the woman. “Has your husband come home that you have taken a bath?”
The youngest of the Coyote children who had been spared, spoke, saying, “Father, it was with an arrow-flaker.”
“What have you done with the children?” Coyote asked. “Where have the others gone?” Panther’s boy was named, He Gnaws Tough Meat. Then Panther was angry at that and came out and spoke to Coyote, who was frightened and said he had taken good care of Panther’s wife.
Panther put four stones in the fire to heat, saying to Coyote, “These will be your wife.” “What is difficult about those?” asked Coyote as he built a fire around the stones as Panther directed. When they were hot Panther told Coyote to swallow one. He swallowed it, saying he did not taste anything. He ran around in a circle. Panther told him to swallow a second one. He swallowed that one saying again that he did not taste it. Again he ran around in a circle. Panther gave him another to swallow. Coyote swallowed it with the same remark and ran around in a circle once more. The last time he gave him another and told him to swallow it. He ran around in a circle. Panther gave him some water to drink. When he had drunk it, steam came out his mouth, his ears, and his nostrils. He lay down and, shaking his tail, died.