Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon, and Stars Began

Overview

According to Santa Ana Pueblo legend, the animals' spirit Leader created the sun, moon, and stars by using woven yucca mats and hot coals. He selected certain animals to climb from their homes in the Third World up to the Fourth World. The Squirrel, the Rabbit, and the Badger were all allowed to go. The Coyote, however, was forbidden to accompany them because he was always causing trouble and stealing food from the others.

Regardless of what he was told, Coyote refused to stay ...

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Overview

According to Santa Ana Pueblo legend, the animals' spirit Leader created the sun, moon, and stars by using woven yucca mats and hot coals. He selected certain animals to climb from their homes in the Third World up to the Fourth World. The Squirrel, the Rabbit, and the Badger were all allowed to go. The Coyote, however, was forbidden to accompany them because he was always causing trouble and stealing food from the others.

Regardless of what he was told, Coyote refused to stay in the Third World. He found a hiding place and waited for a chance to follow the animals to the Fourth World. When the other animals discovered Coyote, they summoned the Leader to the Fourth World to deal with him. Coyote's punishment is a lesson in what happens to animals, or people, when they refuse to obey instructions.

Writing for the younger reader, Emmett "Shkeme" Garcia, a member of the Santa Ana tribe, shares his Pueblo's story of the beginnings of the stars and constellations. Victoria Pringle's illustrations provide visual elements that enhance the action of the story.

Ages 6 and up.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
This Tamayo Pueblo creation story begins when the Animal People decide to journey up from the Third World to the Fourth, or "our world." Their Leader will not let Coyote go with them, because he is such a trickster. The Fourth World is very dark, so Squirrel and Rabbit go back to the Leader for advice. Although he tries twice to send burning coals up with them, forming the sun and the moon, something is still missing. On the third try, Coyote follows, and angry about being left behind, tosses the coals up. They become the stars. Finally the Leader comes up to sort everything out in the sky. Pringle visualizes this very simply told legend using cut paper to create animal shapes, along with a few props like fire, sun, moon, and grainy gray landscape. The innocence inherent in the shapes and their placement in the detail-free landscape conveys a sense of spiritual honesty apparent in such legends.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up
In this spare and staid retelling of a Tamaya Pueblo creation myth, the storyteller explains how the sun, moon, and stars first appeared: "A long time ago, the Animal People decided to make a journey up into our world, the Fourth World. Back then, where we lived in the underworld was called Shipap, or the Third World." When they arrive at journey's end, a humorous illustration displays just eyes amidst blackness and the animals cry, "There is no light in the Fourth World! What should we do?" Subsequently, Squirrel and Rabbit return to the Third World three times to gather warm coals that enable them to bring light to the sky; familiar trickster Coyote arrives just in time to grab the third batch of coals and toss it carelessly into the night sky to create the stars and constellations. References to two different worlds may confuse some children and the text is stiff, contrasting sharply with the more lively dialogue and playful interaction found in another Pueblo tale, Valerie S. Carey's Quail Song (Putnam, 1990). The animal figures in the illustrations are static in the style of petrography and are unlikely to engage children who are accustomed to more animated art. Teachers may want to use this story in their multicultural curriculum, although many will find its documentation inadequate. Libraries with large folklore collections might want to purchase it; smaller libraries will want to wait for a picture-book version that is better suited for children.
—Kirsten CutlerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826337306
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 11 years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Emmett "Shkeme" Garcia is co-owner of Emergence Productions, a cultural exchange program for American Indian youth, and the lead singer of Native Roots.

Victoria Pringle is a graduate of The Little Red School House, New York, and attends Bennington College, Vermont.

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