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History, Culture, and Traditions of the Northwestern Shoshone

Northwestern Band of the Shoshon Nation Utah State University Press ePub

Coyote Steals Fire is a traditional story that has been handed down for many generations among the So-so-goi people. You may have heard other stories about Coyote tricking someone, or getting tricked himself. Many Native American nations have a story like this one about Coyote bringing fire. One thing it shows us is that animals and humans have common needs, and that we can benefit each other—even though we also compete sometimes.

BY MAE PARRY

The Shoshone, Paiute, Bannock, and Ute people are related, and call themselves Newe or Neme (the People). Prior to contact with Europeans, the Newe groups formed small extended-family groupings that traveled extensively as seminomadic hunter-gatherers to survive in the harsh environment of the Great Basin desert. Horses, guns, white contact, and disease destroyed this social organization, resulting in more formal tribal identities and band loyalties. Pre-contact identities did exist to some extent according to the influence of horse ownership and resource use. What became the Northwestern Shoshone band was a part of those groups who had traveled largely on foot in a delicate balance of living off the land. The expression So-so-goi means “those who travel on foot.” The old ones called the Shoshone by that name. When horses became available, the So-so-goi joined the mounted hunting groups in annual harvests.

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Listener’s Guide to the Coyote Steals Fire CD

Northwestern Band of the Shoshon Nation Utah State University Press ePub

As told by Helen Timbimboo, Northwestern Shoshone Elder

Listen for these Shoshone words in the story:

Kakuttsi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grandmother storyteller
Itsappe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Coyote
Pisuppeha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stinkbug
Pia Po’naiha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Packrat
Yehnettsi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Porcupine
Waseppitte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Four-legged game animals
Painkwaih . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fish
Kuna waihyatteki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fire started burning
Kaan kwaisi yukwamitto’i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . That’s the end of the story. (The rat’s tail broke off!)

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Coyote Steals Fire

Northwestern Band of the Shoshon Nation Utah State University Press ePub

Every winter, Grandmother came to the Moson Kahni valley to gather with her people. There were hot springs here, and fish, game, and plenty of shelter. It was the old ones’ time.

Grandmother was a storyteller.

“Grandmother, tell us how Itsappe—Old Coyote—stole fire!”

“Oh, that’s a good story. But remember, if you fall asleep during the story, we all go to bed.”

“Haa” and “hoo,” agreed the children.

Coyote was walking along and was tired of being cold. He called the animals together.

“Let’s go to the desert lands in the south,” he said, “and steal the people’s fire.”

“Haa” and “hoo” said the animals.

Coyote chose Packrat, Stinkbug, and Porcupine to go with him.

The friends walked a long time. They watched the landscape change from pine to piñon, mountain to desert.

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8. The Plan

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM A PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMP IN LEBANON

 

The moment the new art teacher walked into Rami’s classroom, he and every other boy bounced up straight in their seats. With her cheerful smile and green eyes, her shiny brown hair and pink smock that said “You Gotta Have Art,” she looked like all the flowers of springtime.

“We are very fortunate, boys,” announced the principal in his best speech-making Arabic, “to have Miss Nuha Trabulsi to teach you art for the rest of the term. Of course, she has to go to other schools in the camp as well, and therefore she can come here only one day a week, on Thursday. But she will make you learn many things about art—how to draw and how to paint, and maybe other things.” He glanced at Miss Trabulsi for confirmation.

She smiled. “Definitely,” she said.

Rami thought, only one hour a week? And he’d have to share Miss Trabulsi with more than a thousand other boys?

Others might have been discouraged by such odds, but not Rami. After one good look at Miss Trabulsi, he decided on his life’s mission—for the next three months, at least.

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7. Honor

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM JORDAN

 

Yasmine speaks …

I was not exactly thrilled when the biology teacher teamed me up with Wafa Ar-Rahman. We’d be working in pairs, she said, when we started cutting things up—a learning experience I really did not look forward to one bit. And now I had to do it with Wafa. Not that she was obnoxious or stupid, but she was new in school, and so conservative and quiet and shy that she really sort of stuck out.

When I got home, I told my mother that my biology partner would be this girl Wafa, whom I could hardly even see, she was so covered up by her hijab. “She wears her head scarf over her eyebrows, and she doesn’t say a thing. She’ll be so boring, Mum,” I moaned. “I’ll hate that class.”

But my mother was the wrong person to complain to. She was a hard-hitting investigative journalist, and she saw opportunities for social change and noble struggle in practically everything. She was so good at her job, in fact, that she’d won a special fellowship to study in London the previous year, and we’d all spent six glorious months there.

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