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"Coyote and the Columbia" and "Fire" - Native American Legends

Updated on January 15, 2012
The Columbia River
The Columbia River | Source

Coyote and the Columbia

Coyote was walking along one day, with the blazing sun beating down on his head. He felt incredibly hot.

"Can I have a cloud?" he said.

Sure enough, a cloud appeared and gave Coyote some shade to cool down in. However, he wasn't satisfied with just one.

" Can I have more clouds?" he said. More whispy clouds came into existence above his head. The sky looked very stormy at this stage, but Coyote still thought it was much too hot.

"I want it to rain!" he demanded. Like magic, water started to spill from the sky, washing over Coyote.

"Give me more rain!" he cried, and suddenly the light shower became a furocious downpour, soaking Coyote to the skin.

"I want a creek to bathe my feet in," said Coyote impatiently. A babbling brook materialized right before his eyes. The creature stepped in and sighed as the cool water flowed over his paws.

"This isn't right at all!" he yelled, exasperated. "It's supposed to be much deeper than this!" The whispering creek transformed into a roaring river, yanking Coyote's feet from under him and violently sweeping him along it's course. He tumbled head over heels through the raging rapids, and was eventually washed up on a river bed miles from where he'd first stepped into the creek.

When he regained consciousness, Coyote saw some buzzards standing around him, their heads cocked to one side.

Get out of here!" he snarled. "I'm not your lunch!"

And that is the tale of the birth of the Columbia River.

The Columbia River


When the world was still very young, Bear owned Fire. It warmed Bear and his people during the cold winter nights, and lit up the darkness for them. They took Fire with them wherever they journeyed.

One day, when Bear and his people were out on an expedition, they came across a forest who's floor was littered with fallen acorns. Bear laid Fire down at the forest's edge, and he and his people began sampling the acorns. They were crunchy, crispy, and filling - the best acorns any of Bear's people had ever tasted. Soon they'd cleared the floor of them, and they travelled further into the forest in search of more delicious acorns.

Fire crackled and glowed merrily at the edge of the forest for a while, but it soon began to feel hungry. It had eaten up almost all of it's wood and was starting to flicker and dwindle. Fire was very worried, and so he called after his master.

"Feed me, please! Feed me!" Bear did not respond to Fire's cries for help, but Man just happened to be walking through the forest at that time. He heard Fire's pleas for help, and hurried over to it.

"What should I feed you, Fire?" asked Man.

"Anything - logs, branches, wood. Just please fetch me something to eat!" begged Fire.


Man gathered four sticks, and leaned one on Fire's north side. Fire sent it's sparks tumbling and dancing up the wood. The second stick, Man leaned on the west side of Fire. Nourished by the first, Fire devoured this branch and burned brightly. Man propped the third stick to the south of Fire, and the fourth to it's east. Fire was now darting and jigging with joy - it would be forever grateful to Man for saving it.

Man warmed himself by Fire's side, and listened to the hypnotising crackling, popping, and snapping of Fire feeding on the wood. Man fed Fire branches whenever it was hungry, and they were very happy together.

After eatting their fill of acorns, Bear and his people returned to collect Fire, but it flared with rage when it seen Bear.

"You are no friend of mine!" cried Fire, and chased Bear away. Ever since, fire has been Man's property.

Which Legend did you most Enjoy?

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    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love your stories bear and then fire...really awesome...great hub...good story telling...voted up..debbie

    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 5 years ago from Ireland

      Glad you're all finding my retellings interesting. I appreciate the feedback.

      Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Well, VV, I guess that it all had to start somewhere. Thanks for sharing a most interesting tale. Cred2

    • profile image

      gogogo 6 years ago

      never heard them before, I enjoyed reading them thanks for sharing

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I have heard these before and always think that they are so cute and logical.