- Coyote Warnings
Be wary when you're traveling with Coyote. Example: The two of you arrive in Mexico City in the evening, and you are still two to three hours away by bus from your point of destination. You are traveling to ceremony.
Be wary when Coyote says, pulling the hairs of his beard, "You know, it's not good to arrive by nightfall. It makes people think that you're sneaking around."
Consequence: Because you are on a slim budget, you get a sparse two-star hotel room for the two of you. One room. One bed. You roll up a blanket and put it between the two of you and you keep your clothes on. You cross your fingers and try to doze off.
After a very short while, you feel some movement on the other side. Coyote is coming closer. "Get back to your side," you say sternly. There is silence. Be wary when Coyote mumbles, turning over on his back, "My stomach hurts, maybe you could massage it."
You think to yourself, "I could kill him." But you answer, sounding especially drowsy and unfazed, saying very firmly, "Go to sleep. You'll feel better in the morning."
Silence. [End Page 101]
The next morning the two of you leave for the hills of Chalma, where there is a grand dance happening.
Your arrive at the camp of your elders and settle in for the weeklong events. You suddenly see Coyote meet his Uncle. Yes, the older brother of the elder who heads your circle is a Coyote, too. You realize that you hadn't remembered this. They greet each other, and you can see their ears perk to attention. You can't help the belly laughs you feel all throughout your body. Now Coyote is wary, Coyote the younger, although not so young. Coyote Uncle is quite at ease.
They smile and the Uncle motions to us both to sit down to eat. Suddenly you discover another important fact. Your elder, the woman you hold up as an exemplary, wise, and passionate leader, is completely smitten. By Coyote. Her eyes are twinkling stars dancing to meet his. Her smiles are constant. Her laughter is sensual. Uncle Coyote takes note. I am watching everything. Be wary, I think.
We are feasting on rice and beans, savoring the juicy meal, the corn tortillas, the salsa. Then Uncle Coyote holds up a fresh Serrano chile and gestures to Coyote to eat it. Coyote pauses, then shakes his head no. Uncle holds up two chiles and again offers them. Coyote tells me to ask in Spanish what he will get if he eats both of them. Uncle laughs and says, "My sister, you will get my sister." Much laughter from all of us in the camp. The laughter gives Coyote the instant that he needs. Coyote answers, "And if I eat three chiles, will I get the brother, too?" Roaring laughter, the Uncle pouts and shakes his head, saying "Noooo."
Coyote has won, once again, this time. He has beaten himself. Be wary.
Inés Hernández-ávila (Nez Perce and Tejana) is Professor of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis. She is one of the six-member national steering committee that organized the meeting “What’s Next for Native American/Indigenous Studies” at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, in May 2007. She continues on the steering committee as one of the organizers for the April 2008 meeting that will be held in Athens, Georgia. She is the editor of Reading Native American Women: Critical/Creative Representations. She is coeditor, with Gail Tremblay, of a special issue on indigenous women, for Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, and coeditor, with Domino Renee Perez, of a special issue on the intersections between American Indian and Chicana/o literature for SAIL.