Monday, May 8

Guile vs. Muscle

"The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities...It is best to win without fighting. "
Sun-tzu Chinese general & military strategist (~400 BC)

The Coyote and the Turtle,
as told by Guanyanum Sacknumptewa

"A long time ago, there were many turtles living in the Little Colorado River near Homolovi, southeast of Winslow, where Hopi used to live. And there was a coyote living there too, and of course, he was always hungry.

"Now one day the turtles decided they would climb out of the river and go hunt some food, for there was a kind of cactus around there that they like very much. But one of the turtles had a baby and she didn't like to wake it up and take it with her because it was sleeping so nicely. So they just went along and left the baby asleep.

"After a while the little turtle woke up and he said, 'Where is my mother? She must have gone somewhere and left me. O, I must go and find her!'

"So the baby turtle saw that the others had crawled up the bank, and he followed their tracks for a little way. But he soon got tired and just stopped under a bush and began to cry.

"Now the coyote was coming along and he heard the poor little turtle crying. So he came up and said, 'That's a pretty song; now go on and sing for me.'

"But the baby turtle said, I'm not singing, I'm crying.'

"'Go on and sing,' said the coyote, 'I want to hear you sing.'

"'I can't sing,' said the poor baby, 'I'm crying and I want my mother.'

"'You'd better sing for me, or I'll eat you up,' said the big hungry coyote.

"'O, I can't sing—I just can't stop crying,' said the baby, and he cried harder and harder.

"'Well,' the big coyote said, 'if you don't sing for me I'm going to eat you right up.' The coyote was mad, and he was very hungry. 'All right, then, I'll just eat you,' he said.

Now the little turtle thought of something. So he said, 'Well, I can't sing, so I guess you'll have to eat me. But that's all right, for it won't hurt me any; here inside of my shell I'll go right on living inside of you.'

"Now the coyote thought about this a little bit and didn't like the idea very well.

"Then the baby turtle said, 'You can do anything you want with me, just so you don't throw me into the river, for I don't want to drown.'

"Now the old coyote was pretty mad and he wanted to be as mean as possible. So he just picked that baby up in his mouth and carried him over to the river and threw him in.

"Then the baby turtle was very happy; he stuck his little head out of his shell and stretched out his feet and started swimming off toward the middle of the river. And he said, 'Goodbye, Mr. Coyote, and thank you very much for bringing me back to my house so that I didn't have to walk back.' And the little turtle laughed at the old coyote, who got madder and madder because he had let the little turtle go. But he couldn't get him now, so he just went home.

And the baby turtle was still laughing when his mother got home, and she laughed too. And those turtles are still living in that water.

- From The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi
By Hattie Greene Lockett