Friday, December 17, 2021

"Rabbit Tricks Coyote" from Native American Stories

Coyote pushed his paws against the cliff...

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This article is designed for younger readers, with activities more suitable for children. It is from Native American stories.

A coyote is a kind of small wolf or wild dog that lives in the western United States. In Native American stories, Coyote is a kind of "trickster" who tries to play jokes on others. But he's not very good at it and often, Rabbit tricks him instead!

Here's a story about them.

One day Coyote saw Rabbit eating some grass and said, "I'm hungry! I'm going to eat you!"

"Oh," Rabbit said, "you don't want to eat me! I'm too skinny! But some people over at that ranch are cooking a juicy chicken. Let me bring you some!"

So Coyote waited as Rabbit ran toward the hills. But when Rabbit didn't come back, Coyote followed Rabbit's tracks. When Coyote found him, Rabbit was standing by the wall of a cliff, leaning on it with his front feet.

"What are you doing?" Coyote asked.

"I am holding up this cliff," Rabbit replied. "Come help me and hold it up while I go get the food I told you about." So, Coyote pushed his paws against the cliff as Rabbit ran off. After a while he grew tired, and he was still hungry. Finally, he let go of the cliff and jumped back--but of course nothing happened! Once again, he followed Rabbit's tracks.

When he caught him, Coyote said, "This time I really am going to eat you!"

But again Rabbit promised him that he would bring the food, and again he ran off. Coyote waited.

Instead of bringing the food, Rabbit started a fire that burned all the brush around Coyote. He ran back and said, "The party's a lot of fun! Do you hear the fireworks, and smell them burning? The food will just be a few more minutes!" And he ran off again.

Coyote danced and sang as he waited, until at last the fire came to him and burned him up.


Some words to talk about:

  • cliff: like a wall made of rock
  • fireworks: something that explodes, usually in the sky, with bright colors for people to watch
  • leaning: resting one's body against
  • paws: an animal's feet
  • ranch: a place where cows or horses are raised


Choose the best answer. Correct answers are in the first comment below.

1. What did Rabbit promise Coyote at the beginning of the story?
   A. Rabbit promised he would bring Coyote some fireworks.
   B. Rabbit promised he would let Coyote eat him.
   C. Rabbit promised he would bring Coyote some chicken to eat.

2. Why was Rabbit leaning on the cliff?
   A. Rabbit wanted Coyote to bring him some fireworks.
   B. Rabbit wanted Coyote to think the cliff was falling.
   C. Rabbit wanted Coyote to bring him some chicken.

3. What did Coyote do when he got tired of pushing on the cliff?
   A. Coyote let Rabbit help him hold up the cliff.
   B. Coyote let the cliff fall on him.
   C. Coyote let go of the cliff and jumped back.

4. When Rabbit lit the brush on fire, what did he tell Coyote?
   A. Rabbit told Coyote there were fireworks.
   B. Rabbit told Coyote he smelled chicken.
   C. Rabbit told Coyote to go back to the cliff.

5. What happened to Coyote at the end of the story?
   A. At the end of the story, Coyote went back to the cliff.
   B. At the end of the story, Coyote burned up and died.
   C. At the end of the story, Coyote ate some chicken.


These questions do not have "right" or "wrong" answers. They only ask your opinion.

  1. Why does Coyote keep telling Rabbit he's going to eat him, instead of sneaking up on him and tricking him?
  2. Why do you think Coyote keeps trying to catch Rabbit, even when Rabbit is clearly smarter than he is?
  3. Do you think it's right for Rabbit to kill Coyote?

1 comment:


    Questions to Answer: 1. C; 2. B; 3. C; 4. A; 5. B

    Questions to Think About do not have any single correct answer. However, any answers you give should be supported by what you read or by things you know ("I think... because...").