The Coyote and the Blackbirds (Native American Folk Tale)

A party of red-winged blackbirds were frolicking on the ice one winter day. They were laughing, skating and singing and having the gayest time.

“Upon the ice we jump and skate.

It crackles under all our weight.

Our red shoulders shine and glow.

And now together away we go.


And across the ice they skated together when they sang ong-yes-suhru.

Mr. Coyote heard their singing, so he trotted over to the ice.

“Let me skate with you, Blackbirds,” he said.

“Oh, no one can skate with us who hasn”t red shoulders,” they answered. “You will have to get a sharp stone and cut your shoulders so that the blood will make them red, before you can skate with us.”

So Mr. Coyote took a sharp stone and gashed both of his shoulders until the blood ran out and stained them red.

“Now I have pretty red shoulders, too. Now I can skate with you.”

“Oh no, not unless you can sing our song,” they said.

Mr. Coyote tried to sing in his big deep voice; and dashed out on the ice beside the blackbirds.

The blackbirds flew away. They knew that Mr. Coyote only wanted to catch them to eat them up. And Mr. Coyote was so angry when they flew away, that he ran along the ice clawing at the blackbirds” shadows, until his feet were torn and bleeding and he had to give up the chase.

Author Note: San Ildefonso Pueblo

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