Canis latrans


Angelo Joaquin Jr.



B’añ Ce:gig Ban – My Name Is Coyote


Ban wandered to the large wash below around mid-day, settled in under a mesquite tree, and soon heard scurrying feet in the nearby bushes. Noiselessly, he approached the area. Lowering his body, he used powerful leg muscles to leap four feet into the air. At the height of his jump, he looked down and spotted not one but two fat wood rats. He smiled greedily at the thought of feasting on the couple. However, his split-second indecision about which one to catch first was all they needed to dive into their middens.


He considered digging after them but decided it would be too much work for too little reward. Besides, the coyote knew from past experience that he would encounter a maze of tunnels under the piles of debris. Oh, well, there would be plenty of other opportunities to return to this site.


The day had begun waking to the sound of raindrops. Without opening his eyes, he had breathed in the sweet smell of wet creosote. He’d listened as a symphony began with the quail, mourning doves, and other residents greeting the new dawn. The coolness of the air was soothing. He had known it was going to be a Good Day.


He had waited until the flowing washes slowed to a trickle before venturing out. Wet fur accentuated his odor and increased the chances of being detected. Because creosote and other plants released their pungent scents into the air after a rain, the smell of his dry coat would be negligible.


When the rain stopped, he slowly rolled over and crawled out of his den. Planting his front paws, he shifted his weight over his haunches and stretched deeply. Bringing a rear leg over his head, he vigorously scratched an itchy spot behind his ear.


The den, located mid-way up a high hill, opened to the south. Its original resident—probably a badger—had abandoned the hole several years before. The coyote had simply dug deeper into the hill to form a small cave. His dirt-insulated space was comfortable regardless of the season.


Turning to the east, he wove his way through ocotillos, palo verdes, and saguaros. His keen eyesight allowed him to watch creatures—large and small—move about the valley and surrounding hills. He heard the sound of hooves striking rock as deer and javelina searched for food.


He scanned the sky for a hawk, eager to see one swoop down and rise again with a rodent in its talons. More than once, he had taken possession of a raptor’s prize when it landed on the ground. Indeed, he liked to sneak up on other animals and steal away their freshly-captured meals.


Now, in the late afternoon, Ban trotted along the wash to a shady vantage point near a sharp curve in the waterway. An hour later, he heard the soft crunching of sand—someone was approaching. Staying perfectly still, he watched as a huge jackrabbit came into view. Coyote sprang when it was directly across from him. The startled jackrabbit froze—then whipped around running back in the direction from which he’d come. The wild-eyed rabbit strained to get traction on the moist, sandy surface. The coyote angled in at full-speed.


Right then—Ban knew it was going to be a Really Good Day!

Sa’i si S-ke:g Tas, heu’u!




Angelo Joaquin Jr. is from the Gu Achi District of the Tohono O'odham Nation and is a member of the Coyote Clan.