However, the Bobcat was simply admiring a small barrel cactus. He sniffed at it and touched it ever so lightly and gently with his paw and said to himself, “I have never seen a cactus so small yet so protected with its sharp needles. I wonder how long it takes for it to grow as big as the others.”
The Bobcat saw the Coyote approaching so he quickly covered the cactus with his hat and held it still.
As the Coyote trotted up he said, “Cousin Bobcat what a nice surprise to see you. What are you holding under your hat? Can I see it?”
“No, this is a rare bird and I can’t let you see it. It might fly away,” said the Bobcat.
The Coyote said, “Please, Please, cousin, let me see it. I will be very careful. I will not let it fly away.”
The Bobcat told the Coyote, “No, this is a rare bird and I can’t let you see it. It might fly away.”
The Coyote pleaded, “Oh, please, please cousin, let me see it. I will be very careful. I will not let it fly away.”
Once again the Bobcat told the Coyote, “No, this is a rare bird and I can’t let you see it. It might fly away.”
The Coyote crawled to the opposite side of the Bobcat and begged real loud with his head cocked first to one side and then the other, looking at the Bobcat’s eyes and then at the hat saying, “Please, please, please cousin, please let me see it. I will be very careful. I will not let it fly away.”
For the last time the Bobcat said, “No, cousin, this is a rare bird and I can’t let you see it. It might fly away. However, I do need to get a scared stone from the riverbed. Could I trust you to watch over this rare bird for just a minute while I go?”
The Coyote happily agreed. He hopped right over by the hat and grinned from ear to ear. The Bobcat acted like he wasn’t sure if he should trust the Coyote and leave this rare bird alone with him.
He said, “Now cousin, don’t let anything happen to this rare bird. Don’t even lift the hat enough to peek or the bird might get away. I will return shortly.”
“I promise I will not let anything happen to this rare bird,” said the Coyote. “I will watch it and guard it with my life. Go cousin get your stone.”
As soon as the Bobcat turned his back to go the Coyote sniffed at the hat and smiled.
He said to himself, “It smells delicious. I can’t wait to eat this bird. I am so hungry.”
He looked around and didn’t see the Bobcat or anyone. Then he lifted the edge of the hat with his nose and tried to peek in but could see nothing. He let the edge of the hat drop quickly. He looked around again and finding no one watching he lifted the hat even higher and stuck his paw into the opening. He felt something sharp and quickly withdrew his paw.
“Oou-eee,” he said and whispered with delight, “This bird has sharp claws but he will make a fine dinner. I’m so hungry.”
By this time he could not resist any longer. He knew he would have to move fast. He quickly flipped the hat over, grasped the bird with both paws and closed his jaws tightly onto it. He was so startled when the needles of the cactus went deep into his mouth and both forepaws. He yapped and howled so loudly, “Yeow whooo ooooh.”
The Bobcat who was hiding behind a nearby bush jumped out and scolded the Coyote, “You should never cheat or lie and because you did you will have to suffer the consequences. Sadly, now you will starve to death.”
And the Bobcat went away minding his own business.
I value the sacred stories with their strong moral messages. I cherish my Navajo traditional storytelling heritage. I honor my ancestors for passing the stories on to me. It truly has helped me in many situations in my life.
As we approach the holiday season when families are brought together, take the time to really talk to each other and perpetuate the telling of traditional stories. In doing so, as my Grandma Haazbaa’ said, you will learn to be wise and posses the great knowledge of the Holy People.
(Lucille Hunt is Director of Eagle Air Med, which provides service throughout the entire Navajo Nation.)