Drawing depicting the Navajo god Coyote.
Corel Corporation.


According tho the Navajo mythology, the Milky Way was created by the misbehavior of the mischievous deity, Coyote. When the world was created, the Holy People gathered around Black God to place the stars in the sky according to a rational order related to the seasons. But Coyote grew annoyed by the slowness of the creation process. He first chose with anger a red star, called Ma'iio, that he placed in the south to symbolize himself. Ma'iio is a name often given to Coyote, which means 'the one who roams'.

This star, of which we do not know the precise identification, appears for only a short period of time during the year, and it is said to announce trouble. Thereafter, Coyote took the bag full of stars not yet placed and threw it over his head forming the Milky Way. Since the stars of the Milky Way could not be properly placed, they could not be named.

Coyote was a trickster, and would often use this to get what he wanted. In one story, Coyote turned a hero into a coyote, and in turn became the man. He went to the hero's home and slept with his wife. Coyote smelled very bad. When the wife visited her mother, she smelled the Coyote on the wife. They then knew that Coyote had tricked them.

In yet another story, Coyote falls in love with a beautiful woman. In order to marry her, he had to kill the giant, Gray Big Ye'i. Afterwards, the woman attempts to kill Coyote four times, but each time he hides his vital organs so he could come back to life. The woman eventually marries him.

Later we find that coyote is killed while hunting with the wife's brothers. Coyote's wife turns into a bear and kills all but one of the brothers. The last brother kills her, and brings his brothers back to life. This story explains why bears are often considered the female counterparts of coyotes.

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