Coyote and Junco is a Zuni tale originally performed by Andre Peynetsa , tape recorded on January 20, 1965 near the town of Zuni. It was recorded in the language of Zuni, and translated by Dennis Tedlock, and published in both William Bright's Coyote Stories and Dennis Tedlock's Finding the Center. In both collections of Native American stories, the performances are transcribed with an ethnopoetic script in the original Zuni. Tedlock's version contains an English ethnopoetic script. Both editions have the same story and nearly identical content, but both use a different way of presenting the ethnopoetic script. The entire stories will not be reproduced in their entirety, but are available in both Tedlock's and Bright's book. A synopsis of the story is provide beneath the scripts. (Bright 1978) (Tedlock 1999)

Coyote and Junco

Ethnopoetic ScriptsEdit

William Bright's Edit

Meaning: LOUD soft unusual vowel lengthening pauses at least 1/2 second pauses over two seconds lower intonation higher intonation
  • There is no "abovelined" option on this wiki software, so strikethough will be used in its place.
(1) SONAHCI              SONTI        ?INO'----TE// (2) SOPLUWA
   [now we take it up]  [now we begin] long ago         bottle-necked gourds standing

YAL?AN/ (3) SIL ?OKACCIK K?Akwappa/ (4) ta·ci SUSki/ (5) suski at the top junco old lady is housed SUB and coyote coyote
lak  ?ala  ?i·mul?an hol ca?liye./ (6) ca?lappa/ there bunch of rocks where they sit down then there is a brood there is a
(7) ta·ci sil  ?okaccik holi-/ (8) kawasey?a,/ (9) tesuk?o/ brood SUB and junco old lady then winnows pigweed seeds
(10) ta·p k?usuc?i, hol kawasey?a./ (11) ill?anna wolun hol lesna/ and tumbleweed seeds then she winnows with her basket then that way
(12) kawasnan  ?allacelk?akka./ to winnow she tossed them in the air.


  • SUB refers to subordination to a later verb.
  • At the end of the ethnopoetic script, Bright included a "Free Version" of the story that had grammar corrections. It is important to note that this was done by all stories presented in Twbtg2's project, as a linear word-by-word translation would be incredibly difficult to read and not be a true representation of the tradition of which it is an artifact.

Dennis Tedlock Edit

Meaning: 2 second pause softer LOUD unusual vowel lengthening hold repeated consonants produce a crescendo produce a glissando higher intonation

suski lak A'l Iimulh'an holh cha'liye
taachi sil okyattski holhi
taap k'ushuts'i holh kyawashey'a.
Ill'anna wolun holh lesna
kyawashnan allachelhky'akkya.

and CoYOte
Coyote has his children there at Sitting Rock.
He has his children
and as for Old Lady Junco
she's winnowing,
and tumbleweed seeds, it seems she's winnowing.
With her basket, this way (holds out his hand palm up, bouncing it up and down)
she winnowed by tossing them in the air.


Coyote, while returning to his children hears a junco bird singing a song. He asks her to sing it for him so he can sing it for his children. He forgets the song four times and returns to Junco to hear it again, but the fourth time she refuses to sing for him. He bites the rock she is hiding in and his molars fall out. He later returns to his children, who have died.

Approach : EthnopoeticsEdit

HROPAll Approaches

The two scripts show the true creativity allowed with the ethnopoetic approach to an oral tradition. Bright and Tedlock have taken the same source and same desired goal, and approached at that goal with dissimilar tactics and designs. Bright's script is more of a word-for-word translation, while Tedlock's aims to balance both maintaining the original performative aspects of the story but recreate it in an understandable and entertaining fashion. Both have their own merit, and both serve two different purposes. Tedlock was allowed more creative freedom with his script as his book was published many years after Bright's, but other than the rising and falling letters, there are not many differences in the presentation of the scripts. Both feature dashes for extended vowel noises, and capital letter instruct the reader/reperformer to be louder. Here is a side by side comparison of their ethnopoetic keys:

Meaning: loud soft unusual vowel lengthening pauses at least 1/2 second pauses over two seconds lower intonation higher intonation
line breaks
Bright's Ethnopoetic Script

Bright's Ethnopoetic script (Bright 1978)

Reading either script would produce the same story, and desirably the same sounding story. Bright's is more difficult to read not only because he uses question marks for some symbols, but because of the overall line by line layout of his translation. This is one example of how technology benefits the field of Oral Tradition and the Ethnopoetic approach is most useful when an easy to use yet efficient system is able to convey the most meaning to the reader.

The presence of the original Zuni language is also beneficial to the reader on many levels. When reading something that has been translated into English, it is easy to forget about the hard work it takes to translate these words, as well as how much meaning is lost in translation. Each langauge, and more specifically each oral tradition has a functional technology that allows it to mean what the story teller wants it to mean. Ethnopoetics, Immanant Art, and Performance Theory all try to bring these elements to the surface by their unique approach, but it is important to remember that the best way to approach any story or tradition is with all three techniques, never limiting the possibilities of understanding.

Further AnalysisEdit

Coyote Jumping

Oral traditions are only useful if they serve a purpose to their culture. Besides entertainment, this story also provides an explanation of why coyote doesn't have molars, and also provides a conduct lesson of the importance of not getting distracted.

It is important to look at both the contextual meanings of an oral tradition, as well as the subtextual inferences. It is easy to pick the easy messages up, but many traditions may have many other meanings to a story or tradition than an outside can pick up on. Being and outside observer has its benefits, but one must truely immerse themselves into a culture before than can truely understand the importance and meaning of a tradition, if they ever can truly understand it.

Further ThoughtEdit

See Talk:Coyote and Junco for questions to think about and discuss.

External LinksEdit

  Twbtg2's Project on Native American Trickster Stories edit

Navigation: Twbtg2 - Abstract - Table of Contents - All Articles - Suggested Routes - Sources
Elements: Trickster story type - Coyote - List and maps of Native American tribes
Stories: The Coyote & The Prairie Dog - Coyote and Junco - Coyote and Turtle Story - Coyote Races Buffalo - Coyote Steals a Drink - Don't Be Too Curious - Rabbit's Short Tail
Approaches: Ethnopoetics - Performance Theory - Immanent Art - All
Sources: American Indian Trickster Tales - Calvin Grinnell Interview - A Coyote Reader - Coyote Stories - Finding the Center - How to Read an Oral Poem - Inconstant Companions - Tales of the North American Indians - The Telling of the World - All

The Book Worm Route

Don't Be Too CuriousCoyote and JuncoCoyote Steals a DrinkSourcesOther Routes

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