Coyotes Stories of the Montana Salish Indians
Salish Share Wisdom of Traditional Coyote Stories
From generation to generation, the Salish Indian tribe has passed on its wisdom through the art of storytelling.
A glimpse of that tradition is now available through Coyote Stories of the Montana Salish Indians, a book copublished by the Salish Kootenai College Press and the Montana Historical Society Press.
The three Coyote stories in the book, told by tribal members and illustrated by Indian artists from the Flathead Reservation in western Montana, were developed in book form under the direction of the Salish Culture Committee of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
The separate titles of the three stories in the book are "Coyote Gets Lovesick," "Coyote and Raven," and "Coyote's Dry Meat Turns into Live Deer."
The stories are written at the fourth-grade level but are intended to be enjoyed by people of all ages. Large illustrations accompany each page of the stories.
"You can read these stories at many levels. Of course, inflection and delivery are very much a part of the oral tradition of these stories, but the illustrations help one to understand the mood of the story as it develops," former Montana Historical Society Press Editor Martha Kohl said.
These stories were traditionally told in the winter when the people gathered together on the cold, dark days waiting for spring.
They are both amusing and informative as in "Coyote Gets Lovesick," when Coyote gets so smitten while admiring a love from afar that he forgets to eat. Camp Robber, his friend, takes pity on Coyote when he dies and brings him back to life with words of wisdom for lovers of all ages.
"Let it be that when man gets lovesick for someone, it won't be a way to die. There will be lovesickness, but man won't die from it," Camp Robber says.
This is the Society's second collaboration with the Salish Kootenai College Press, and follows publication of Over a Century of Moving to the Drum: Salish Indian Celebrations on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
"This is a good relationship for both of us. Above all, it is a way to share with more people the history and heritage that is a part of Montana," Kohl said.
Coyote Stories is 64 pages with 47 illustrations and sells for $9.95 in paperback. It is available at bookstores or can be ordered directly from the Museum Store (plus shipping) by calling toll free 1-800-243-9900.Order