Thomas Doty – Storyteller


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Bill Hanley and Coyote's Relations

Coyote likes this description of his relations by Bill Hanley in the late 1870s as he's traveling east from the Rogue Valley, over the Cascade Mountains, and into Oregon's high desert....

"After getting across the mountains into the scattered juniper and sagebrush, we began to take on the life in the big open country.... The first fellow to introduce himself to us was the coyote. First you would hear his little short yips, then a howl answering off on another hill, till every hill had answered. You thought he was being mistreated -- you didn't understand that it was just his way of paying tribute to the world he lived in. Soon you found he was a good little fellow when you lived along with him, accepting his code -- always ready to go with you in his cheerful way, playing along, catching a grasshopper, then a fly. Just the dog of the plains loving a human friend for a companion ... would travel with you miles, sometimes close, sometimes far away.

"He had gone so far in the Indian's life that he was too smart to be just an animal. He was a dead Indian come back."

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A smidgen more from Bill Hanley: "Next morning the coyotes woke me up. After due signaling to one another, they commenced to howl on all the hills. Pretty soon I sat up and commenced to howl, too. When you've laid out all night under the rim rock, and then wake up in the cold of early morning with nothing to eat, and all at once you hear the coyotes howling, you find yourself wanting to howl in sympathy with them. It's a pretty big world to wake up in all alone and not know where any breakfast is coming from.... He's a dear sentinel, the coyote."