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Legends of the Secwepemc
Coyote and Grizzly Bear Make the Seasons and Night and Day

Inside the pit house where the Secwepemc spent the cold winter months, this photograph was taken at the Secwepemc Culture and Education Society outdoor museum

Grizzly Bear met Coyote and said, “I am the greatest in magic of all people. When I wish a thing to be, it has to be so. Now I am displeased with the short time that it is dark. I think it will be better if it is dark all the time. I intend to make it so”.

Coyote answered, “No that would inconvenience the people too much”.

Grizzly said, “Well, I will have it my way”.

Coyote answered, “No, you can’t”.

Grizzly danced and sang, saying, “Darkness, darkness! Let it always be dark”.

Coyote danced and sang. “Light, light, may it be light”.

 

Grizzly and Coyote danced and sang for a long time and sometimes Grizzly got his way and darkness won. Other times, Coyote got his way and lightness won. They struggled for a long time and neither beat the other.

At last Grizzly got tired, and said, “Let there be half darkness and half light”. Coyote agreed to this and said, “From now on, it shall be light from the time the sun prepares to rise until he sets. The rest of the time shall be night. So every day the sun shall travel and when he leaves, the night will follow him until the next day when he rises again”.

Grizzly Bear said. “I am displeased with the length of the year and the length of winter. It is far too short. Let it be the same number of moon that there are feathers in the tail of a blue grouse”.

Coyote counted the feathers and found twenty two. Grizzly wanted each winter to last twenty two Moons. Coyote said, “No, the people cannot endure such a long winter. They will all die. Let it be half that number”. Grizzly Bear objected, so Coyote said, “Let there be the same number of moons is year as there are feathers in the tail of the red winged flicker”.

Grizzly thought there were many feathers in the flicker’s tail, so he agreed.

The Coyote continued, “Half of these feathers shall represent the number of moons it may snow, and the other half, the number of moons it may not snow or be cold”. Grizzly agreed, as he thought the winter would be almost as long as he wanted. Grizzly got a flicker’s tail and was surprised when he counted the feathers, to find only twelve, but it was too late to make any change.

Coyote said, “from now on the year shall consist of six moons of warm weather, and six moons in which it may snow or be cold.” So Coyote saved the people from having to live in darkness and cold. He made the seasons and days and nights as they are now.

The Seasons

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