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Fiesta Tu-Chai-Pai

As soon as the Indian villagers found that Tu-chai-pai was dead, all living things came together from the mountains and the valleys--all men and all animals--to mourn for him. The dove that lives here went away to seek her mate upon a high white mountain, and when she came back there was blood on her wings, the blood of her Maker.

Then the people went up on a high mountain and set two stone tablets--one facing East and one facing West. On these tablets were marked the number of days of the fiesta for Tu-chai-pai.

The men wished to bury him, and they made a great funeral pyre. They were about to set fire to it when Coyote appeared and would not agree to this, and the men gave in to him, because they were afraid of him. The villagers sent Coyote far to the East on an errand. He was far away when he saw a plume of smoke rising above the hills, and he came rushing back.

"What are you burning?" he asked.

"We are burning nothing," they told him.

Again the villagers sent Coyote far away toward the sunset. When he looked back, again he saw smoke. By then the people had finished burning the body--all but the heart. Coyote returned and found the Indian warriors standing shoulder to shoulder about the heart of their beloved Tu-chai-pai.

"I see what you are doing," said Coyote. "You are burning the heart." Suddenly, he sprang over the heads of the Indian men and seized the heart and fled to the mountains, where he devoured it. Ever since the Indians have hated Coyote for this dreadful trick he played upon them.

Yo-ko-mat-is, the younger brother, went far away to the West, but when the Indians pray to him for rain, he comes back every time, and their prayers are answered by the great spirits of himself and Tu-chai-pai.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.