Taos Tales


Nearly 100 authentic tales offer an unparalleled glimpse into beliefs and culture of the Pueblo Indians: "The Kachina Suitors and Coyote," "Magpie and the Corn Mothers," "Turquoise Boy Races the Deer Boys," "The Envious Hunter," "The Jealous Girls," "Echo Boy," "Escape Up the Tree," and many more.
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Taos Tales

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Nearly 100 authentic tales offer an unparalleled glimpse into beliefs and culture of the Pueblo Indians: "The Kachina Suitors and Coyote," "Magpie and the Corn Mothers," "Turquoise Boy Races the Deer Boys," "The Envious Hunter," "The Jealous Girls," "Echo Boy," "Escape Up the Tree," and many more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486289748
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 3/27/1996
  • Series: Native American Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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Taos Tales

By Elsie Clews Parsons

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1996 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-14822-9


The Kachina Suitors and Coyote

Those people were living at tulata, at Cottonwood, iatsulekweama, Yellow Corn young woman and iatsolekweama, Blue Corn young woman. In the cottonwood tree was living Nighthawk (notakaiena) their husband. He was a great hunter. He would go out to hunt early in the morning and late in the evening he would come home with a whole deer which he had tied up by the legs in a bundle. Thus living, two boys were born to them. When they grew up old enough to know they asked their mothers (inumk'anöma) who was their father. Their mothers told them that Nighthawk was their father (inumt'âmöna). Then they asked their mothers to make them bows and arrows. Their mothers said to them, "We can not make the bows and arrows, but you can go to your grandfathers (manumtalulina). They will give you bows and arrows. Go eastward (töibuya)! That is where they live. There they will give you bows and arrows." So they went. When they got there, the watchman (xina) came out, he asked them what they wanted. The boys told him that their mothers told them to come there to ask their grandfathers for bows and arrows. So he took them in. There they were sitting in the room. They all welcomed them by saying, "Kimowaiina yianyo manlai, our sons, here you two sit down. Why are you here, living at the cottonwood where your home is, your mothers being Yellow Corn woman and Blue Corn woman"?—"Yes, that is so. Our mothers told us that Nighthawk was our father and that our grandfathers were living here, at the Big House (tölaai), in the Lake. So we asked our mothers if we could get bows and arrows from you here." Then all answered, "Yes, here we are, your grandfathers. You have found us. And you will get your bows and arrows here." Then the guard (p'o'watana) went into the east room, he got the bows and arrows. Next he went into the north room, he got a big mountain lion skin quiver (hemlahaiklumuna) full of arrows. Then he went into the west room, he got fruits (p'eana) of all kinds. In the south room he got some wild asparagus (p'asiuna) and many edible grasses. Then they packed up all those things, they said to the boys, "Now you have what you desire. Take these fruits to your mothers!" Of the corn they were told to husk the green corn to throw just outside of the house for the people (nalentaien) to see it. (They would be surprised, it was winter.) So the people when they saw the husks, they wondered how the green corn husks came there, the time being the middle of winter, in the man moon (sen pana) (January). Then the following day the two boys wanted to go out hunting. Their mothers described to them the prints of the animals—rabbits with small prints, jack rabbits with larger prints, deer prints larger and split-foot, and elk prints the same, but larger. Their mothers said to them, "There is only one way you should not go in your hunt, that is northward (töota)." They went, in the evening they brought in some rabbits. On the second hunt they went westward. They got smaller game, like squirrels and other little animals. They brought them to their mothers. Their mothers said to them inu·we'! Next they went down south. They got some deer and brought them to their mothers. They received them and said inu·we'! Then they talked about going northward. Younger brother said to Elder brother (p'a p'ana), "You remember that we were told not to go northward." Anyway, Elder brother decided that they should go and see for themselves and find out what would be the outcome if they went northward. Younger brother was unwilling to go, but he obeyed Elder brother, saying, "It is naughty (hap'anna), we are forbidden to go but you want to go anyway." Then Elder brother said, "Men should use their eyes and see what may come of it." So the next day they went northward. When they had gone half way, Scabby Fox (helwi tu'wana) called them to come where he was, saying, "My younger brothers (anumpaiyuwaina), let us talk as men (seunchaanai), and then you will go on." So they went to him. And Scabby Fox said to them, "Why did you come up this way? Were you not living there in a good home at the cottonwood with your mothers, Yellow Corn woman and Blue Corn woman, and with Nighthawk, your father?" Then the two little boys replied, "Yes, that is the way we live, but we come out this way to hunt."—"So, my sons," said Scabby Fox, "Sleep with me tonight, then go in the morning." They did not want to stay, but Scabby Fox kept urging them to stay. After a long talk they consented to remain with him overnight. They went to bed and Scabby Fox watched them go to sleep. The boys slept and Scabby Fox got up and took off his scabby shirt and put it on the boys and took their clothing of fine buckskin. So Scabby Fox put on the clothing of the boys and at daybreak he went to a creek. He lay there to wait for Dogwood-of-the-Plains girls (pata kwilenöma) to come down for water. These girls many young men had tried to induce to be their sweethearts (piaasina), but they would deny them. So Fox talked to the girls, he tried his best to get them to let him be their sweetheart, but it was impossible to get an answer from them. So the girls filled their jars of water and walked up to their house. They told their mother that down at the creek there was a nice young man (ulalaana), but that they did not listen to his talk ... Later in the day the fox was taken up by the Dogwood-of-the-Plains girls to their house. There he became the husband of the Dogwood-of-the-Plains girls. At nightfall they went to their room to sleep. All night they teased and joked, he did not sleep. Towards daylight suddenly he went to sleep, very soundly. And the girls slept too. That morning the mother of the girls went down to the creek for water.

Meanwhile the two boys woke up. They were badly dressed and they were trembling. Their bows and arrows were made of ordinary wood. So they went out northward. As they were going along they came to a creek. Here they met the mother of the Dogwood-of-the-Plains girls. She asked them what had happened to them. They answered that Scabby Fox had played them a trick by giving them his scabby coat and taking their clothing, their bows, arrows and quiver. The old woman (kliuna) said, "My sons (anumukaina), that fox is not good." Then the woman took the boys up to her house. There she asked them again what had happened to them. And they told her what had happened to them and who they were. Then the old woman called out from the top of the house to the people (nalataine) to gather. So they promptly came to her house. Then some men with clubs went in to the house where Scabby Fox was having his good time. So they clubbed him. He jumped, as he jumped he shit out all over, on the floor and to the walls, even to the beds and over the two girls. They threw their clubs at him, but missed him, he was too swift. He ran outdoors and out to the fields. Then he turned back toward where the crowd of people were, hollering and laughing at him and ridiculing the girls. Then he turned back and with his hand raised to his eyes, looking toward the people, he said, "So many young men (ulalanu) of the nalatain have tried to be sweethearts to the Dogwood-of-the-Plains girls, but I am the first to be their sweetheart."

Then the people sent the two girls to look for the two boys with the fox's scabby coat and to bring them up to the house. So the girls went down to the creek and brought them up. They wrapped them up in their best blankets, and the people went to work over them. They rolled a knife wheel (chiatawena) over them in order to cut to pieces the scabby coats. When those coats were taken off there appeared two nice boys. So they made the two girls wash their heads and bathe them and dress them clean. Then the crowd of people made a surround to catch the fox. They caught him, and took the boys' clothing away from him and gave it to the boys. And the people gave back to the fox his own scabby coat. Then the boys went back to their mothers at Cottonwood. After they got there, their mothers said to them, "We told you not to go that way. You were a very long time away." Younger brother said, "He is to be blamed. He urged me to go northward, and that is what happened to us through the fox exchanging his scabby skin for ours."

(How did you make out, our mother (hi könapoa anumkana)?)


Yellow Corn young woman (iatsulekwema) and Blue Corn young woman (iatsolekwema) were living. They were very pretty. The boys came and asked them to marry them, but they did not want to marry them, even when they were lachi söanenem (kachina men). Then Coyote put berries on his head and chokecherries around him and went to them. They took him to their house and spent the night. The people took the bows and arrows to shoot him. One man went in and saw Coyote sleeping between the two girls. Coyote heard him and jumped down the ladder and ran and hollered to them, "I am a friend of Yellow Corn girl and Blue Corn girl who would not take you. I am Coyote who knows them." Then the lachina sent hailstones (iakane) which fell and struck him in the head and killed him.


Seed-marked Boy Destroys the Giant

At Cottonwood were living tatöaöwia, Seed-marked boy, and his grandmother. While living there the grandmother would go every day to bring in sticks of wood on her back. Every time she went she told her grandson not to go northward. The boy would play about the house. After a while the boy thought he would find out by going north why his grandmother told him not to go northward. So one day he went north-, ward and found out that the giant (toilana, person big) was always around there. He learned that the people, men, women and children, never came back to their home because the giant was catching them and eating them up. So the people were diminishing all the time. They did not know what was becoming of them. Now Seed-marked boy was caught by the giant, and taken to his home. His home was antoilaenta (ant', oylo? ient'o, his-giant-feet-at). (It is a big, high, impassable rock.) When he was taken there he was bound hand and foot. The giant went out to gather stumps, he laid the boy underneath and piled the stumps on top of him and set fire to the stumps for Seed-marked boy to cook. Then the old giant lay down alongside his blazing fire, waiting for the boy to be roasted to eat him. He sang,

tatöaö' wia tatöaö' wia
awi p'asiu pa'okilku'yuma
wild celery trickle nicely flowing
awi p'asiu pa'okilku'yuma

The giant heard the song. Giant said to himself, "Oh, you little thing, why does it take so long for you to be roasted?" Then the giant took his wooden shovel and opened up the burning stump. Then he got the boy out. He was not burned. So the giant got hold of the boy and said to him, "You are such a small boy you must have some kind of power; but I will see who is laietuwaiemu, more powerful." So he took him up to the top of that precipitous rough wall of rock. Then he stood him up on the edge of the rock and said to him, "Here is the place from which you will never come back." Then he pushed him down. Down he went. Then he went back, hollering, and alit as a soft eagle tail feather on top of the rock where the giant was. Then the second time the giant pushed him down. He said to him, "You are such a small boy, yet you know what to do!" Then he came back again, as a feather, hollering aloud. That was the second time. Then the giant pushed him down again. He came back again as the same feather, yelling and hollering. The fourth time he pushed him down. He came back hollering. (That was where the giant threw down all the people he killed.) Then the boy said to the giant, "Now, it is my turn. We will find out who is more powerful." The old giant liked the trick of the boy. He said to himself, "Now, I will try it, too." He got hold of the giant and took him down to the place where he had been put to be burned. He gathered old cedar stumps, put the giant under the stumps, and set them afire. It made a strong blaze, the fire sounded as if it was boiling sss---s! And the stumps all burned down to charcoal. Nothing was seen of the giant, nor could his voice be heard, only the blazing of the fire sss---s! Until the charcoal burned away to ashes. So by his power (tuwaiega) he made a strong wind blow which blew the ashes away. The dead had been bound up by hands and feet, some sitting up, some lying down. Then by his power, he made all the dead come to life. They all exclaimed, "Huwi, kitamena (our father)! You are the man by whose power we shall see our world again." Then he looked for his grandmother and they went back to their home at Cottonwood. There they lived as before.

You have the tail now; if you don't take up your tail you will freeze.


Excerpted from Taos Tales by Elsie Clews Parsons. Copyright © 1996 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Page,
1. The Kachina Suitors and Coyote,
2. Seed-marked Boy Destroys the Giant,
3. The Striped Ones Save him from the Giant,
4. Magpie and the Corn Mothers,
5. Magpie Drowns Blue Corn Girl,
6. Magpie-tail Youth Revives his Dead Wife,
7. The Corn Girls Follow Red Snake,
8. Little Bleary-eye Gets a Parrot Skin,
9. Variant: Rescued by Chipmunk: Metate Bundle: Gopher will Provide a Dress,
10. Witch Wife: Rescued by Morning Star and Chipmunk,
11. Little Dirt and Deer Girl: Race between Deer Boys and Hawk Boys,
12. Turquoise Boy Races the Deer Boys,
13. The Envious Hunter,
14. The Jealous Girls,
15. Grass Flower Boy Courts the Corn Girls,
16. Sun Begets Twins: Variant (Witch Wife),
17. Testing for the Baby's Father,
18. Spider Man Impregnates Blue Corn Girl,
19. Echo Boy,
20. Yellow Corn Woman and Blue Corn Woman Jilt Shell Flower Youth,
21. The Corn Girls Give their Milk to Fly Old Man: Morning Star Kills the Redheads,
22. Escape up the Tree,
23. Variant: Rolling Skull: Magic Flight,
24. Rolling Skull: Their Half Brother Kills the Coyote Children,
25. Suitor Tests: Hiding the Animals Away: Escape up the Tree,
26. Magical Impregnation: Suitor Tests,
27. Magic Flight: Buffalo Medicine Bundle,
28. The Apache Youth Takes a Redhead Scalp,
29. Man Eyes,
30. Nighthawk's Cradle,
31. Bat and Magpie Twit Each Other,
32. Snake Wife,
33. Horned Toad Goes Deer Hunting,
34. Bear Digs for Medicine,
35. Bear Claws!,
36. The River Waters are Released,
37. Lizard Song,
38. Fish Dances and Sings for Water,
39. The Turkeys Gather Piñon,
40. Spirit Rats Give Battle to Eagle and Hawk,
41. Bear and Red Ant Play at Breaking Arm,
42. Snow Breaks Red Ant's Foot,
43. Rabbit Pretends Toothache,
44. The Disobedient Little Rabbits,
45. Jack Rabbit Chief,
46. Turkey Maiden Betrays Coyote,
47. The Ducks Trick Coyote,
48. Spotted Bird- Transplants,
49. The Reeds Dance for Coyote,
50. Coyote Races Buffalo and Mountain Sheep,
51. Coyote Paints with Firebrands,
52. How the Deer Got their Spots,
53. Coyote Gets a Hunting Song and Plays Dead,
54. Coyote Gambles with the White-headed Eagles and Play Dead,
55. Coyote Breaks the Continence Taboo,
56. Coyote Rapes Gopher Old Woman,
57. Coyote Pretends he is Big Water Man,
58. Coyote Steals the Apache Girls,
59. Coyote Tricks his Daughter,
60. Coyote Brings the Buffalo to Taos,
61. Coyote Calls for a Scalp Dance,
62. Coyote Visits Underground,
63. Coyote the Credulous,
64. Coyote Tries to Grind,
65. Coyote Asks for a Grinding-song,
66. Coyote Believes the World is on Fire,
67. Coyote Finds a Baby,
68. Eye jugglers,
69. Bungling Host,
70. Blue Fox Eats up Coyote's Rabbits: Crows as Chickens: Cheese in the Water: Hailstorm Coming,
71. The Dance for the Blind: Hailstorm Coming: Crows as Chickens: Holding up the Cliff,
72. Coyote Forgets the Song,
73. Water Spiller,
74. Coyote Kills his Wife,
75. Gum Baby,
76. Coyote Cooks Baby Bear: Holding up the Rock,
77. Coyote Steals the Cheese and is Caught by Burro,
78. The Faithful Wife and the Woman Warrior,
79. Without Fear: The Division: Rescue from Wind,
80. The King's Son Becomes a Deer: The Stolen Mirror,
81. The Four Brothers,
82. The Brave Boy,
83. Manuelito and the Saints,
84. The Snake Intimidated,
85. The Marriage Feast,
86. Witch Dog,
87. The Vision,
88. The Girl Clairvoyant,
89. Owl Gives Warning,
90. Grasshopper Calls Out,
91. Two Girls Play at Hiding,
92. The Apache Journey to Basket Mountain,
93. Storm Old Woman Kidnaps Two Children,
94. Why Salt Man Went Away,
95. Jealous Wife,
96. The Girl who Married a Bear,
97, Culture Hero,
98. Puyé and Pecos,
APPENDIX - By George L. Trager, Yale University,

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