"Every generation occupies itself with interpreting Trickster anew...."
— Paul Radin
"We interpret always as transients."
— Frank Kermode
The first story I have to tell is not exactly true, but it isn't exactly false, either.
Once during the winter after I got out of college I was hitchhiking north of Winslow, Arizona. Just after sundown three Navajo men in an old green Chevy picked me up. The driver I remember distinctly as his hair was as ong as mine, and he had lost the top of his right ear. He and his friends had been working a construction site near the New Mexico border and were headed home to Tuba City for the weekend. Two or three times in the fading light we came upon coyotes crossing the road or slinking along in the nearby brush, and there began a somewhat reverent and somewhat joking discussion of coyotes and their ability to see in the dark, which led in turn to my hearing what I only later understood to be a very old story.
Long ago, the driver said, Coyote was going along and as he came over the brow of a hill he saw a man taking his eyes out of his head and throwing them up into a cottonwood tree. There they would hang until he cried out, "Eyes come back!" Then his eyes would return to his head. Coyote wanted very much to learn this trick and begged and begged until the man taught it to him. "But be careful, Coyote," the man said. "Don't do this more than four times in one day." "Of course not. Why would I do that?" said Coyote.
Read the entire Introduction to Trickster Makes This World (pdf).