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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Spiritual Life



Spirit Realm

Visual representation of nature's laws

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Now Coyote was blind, and staggered out of the village, hoping to find new eyes. He heard the sounds of running water, and felt around, trying to find the stream. Now, around flowing water, one finds bubbles, and Coyote tried to take these bubbles and use them for eyes. But bubbles soon pop, and that’s what Coyote discovered.

Now Coyote felt around and discovered huckleberries, so he took those and used them for eyes. But huckleberries are so dark, everything looked black. Now Coyote was really feeling sorry for himself.

"Eenee snawai, I’m just pitiful," Coyote cried.

"Why are you so sad?" asked a small voice, for little mouse had heard him. "My dear Cousin," said Coyote, "I’ve lost my eyes ... I’m blind, and I don’t know what to do."

"Snawai Yunwai," replied Mouse. "You poor thing. I have two eyes, so I will share one with you." Having said this, Mouse removed one of his eyes and handed it to Coyote. Now Coyotes are much larger than mice, and when Coyote dropped Mouse’s eye into his socket, it just rolled around in the big empty space. The new eye was so small it only let in a tiny amount of light. It was like looking at the world through a little hole.

Coyote walked on, still feeling sorry for himself, just barely able to get around with Mouse’s eye. "Eenee snawai, I’m just pitiful," he sobbed. "Why are you crying, Coyote?" asked Buffalo in his deep voice.

"Oh Cousin," began Coyote, "all I have to see with is this tiny eye of Mouse. It’s so small it only lets in a little bit of light, so I can barely see." "Snawai Yunwai," replied Buffalo. "You poor thing, I have two eyes, so I will share one with you." Then Buffalo took out one of his eyes and handed it to Coyote. Now Buffaloes are much larger than Coyotes, and when Coyote tried to squeeze Buffalo’s eye into his other socket, it hung over into the rest of his face. So large was Buffalo’s eye that it let in so much light, Coyote was nearly blinded by the glare ... everything looked twice as large as it ordinarily did. And so, Coyote was forced to continue his journey, staggering about with his mismatched eyes (Archibald, 1982, pp.10ff.).

While Coyote reflects the ability here to be a prankster, or a magician, or perhaps even a shaman, what we wish to point out is the dimensions of Nature’s Law present as a subtext. First and foremost is the element of sharing. Quite apart from the repercussions, the individual episodes, the notable strength of the tale is the unquestioning gift of whatever Coyote needs in a crisis, regardless of the personal cost. The unspoken text is that the buffalo and the mouse would themselves be rendered blind in one eye by the gift, yet there is no questioning of such an act. Clearly the mouse and the buffalo reflect a two symbolic centers in the Aboriginal world, for they themselves provide much for First nations totemic understandings…these dimensions must be de-coded in order to understand the deeper meanings implicit in the tale.

Secondly, the notion of wandering is  a trope that demonstrates that landscape belongs to everyone. There are no fixed boundaries to Trickster’s roamings, reflecting the notion in Nature’s Law that the earth is a primordial gift to all who inhabit it, and no one can put limits to one’s access to it. Third, the adaptability of Trickster is amazing. Rather than accept the situation as destructive and personally defeating, Coyote continually probed for ways to accommodate himself to the loss of his eyes. This pragmatic confidence in the face of insurmountable odds reflects the Aboriginal mix of good and bad present in the universe, making the story a "theological" meditation on how one should continue on one’s path and take the good with the bad. Coyote’s situation is part of the structure of things. Best to take it all with good humor and jest. Finally, Coyote is a brother…he is not a threat to mouse, nor an enemy of buffalo. Coyote is someone in trouble. The subtext reflects the common ground of Nature’s Law…the earth has many different kinds of inhabitants and they are all here for a purpose. This mirrors Smith’s comment: "Reciprocity … is the way of the world as event; without it, survival of all beings is impossible and the world ends. Stinginess is not just morally reprehensible; it is disastrous" (Smith, World as Event 77). Coyote shows us that everyone should lend a hand as best s/he can...that’s Nature’s Law

These few points are sufficient to underscore the importance of these transformative figures. We can briefly conclude that the Trickster stories are grist for the judicial mill from an Aboriginal standpoint because they point to an ethic that rests upon a ground beyond the individual or the band. All of these elements give a voice to the Aboriginal sacred.

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