In the stories, coyote battles monsters. It’s just what coyote does. In one legend from the Nez Perce, Monster was devouring everything in the land. Monster was clever, but he couldn’t seem to capture the last remaining morsel: Coyote. Now, Coyote missed all his animal friends so he was angry at Monster for eating them. One day, Coyote tied himself to a mountain and called out to Monster:
“Come, and get me, if you can!”
So, Monster seeing the coyote defenseless tried to suck him into his belly, but the ropes were strong and tied so well there was nothing Monster could do. Finally, he gave up…but he was still so hungry.
“Coyote….” Monster said slyly, “won’t you come and be my dinner guest tonight?”
“Certainly! Let us put this anger behind us.”
So that night, Coyote came to Monster and as they were preparing for the evening Coyote said, “Monster, I miss my friends so terribly. Won’t you let me in to your stomach so I can see them once more?”
Monster had to hide us delight. At last! He would devour Coyote and his dominance over the land would be complete.
“Step right in,” and he opened his mouth wide.
Coyote leaped in, fearlessly and with all his might, but he didn’t go into Monster’s stomach at all! He tore his way into Monster’s heart and ripped and shredded his way through the giant, beating heart, finally killing Monster and ripping him open, freeing all the animals.
The carcass, Coyote hurled to the four corners of the world and this is how the people came to be. He had no pieces left where he was, so he took the blood on his paws from Monster’s great heart and formed the center people, the Nez Perce.
And that is how coyote did it.