Coyote & Little Turtle
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Vision Seeker"O Great Spirit
grant me a vision.
Let it be good.
Let it bless all people".


Vision Seeker
, 
Jerome Bushyhead

 

Title: Coyote & Little Turtle
Publisher Clear Light Publishers, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1994
Author: Hershel Talashoema (told by), Emory Sekaquaptewa & Barbara Pepper (translated and edited by), Hopi Children (Grades K-6) (illustrations)
Genre: Folk Tale/A Traditional Hopi Tale/Multiple Ethnicities
Summary This book is the first in a series of books developed by IPOLA (The Institute for the Preservation of the Original Languages of the Americas) dedicated to preserving Hopi language and tradition. It contains the very simple, yet profound Hopi story of Coyote and Little Turtle, simplified for very young children from original video taped recordings of Hershel Talashoema. Hopi and English passages are presented side by side for the young reader. There is also a section for parents and teachers that contains a very basic lesson on Hopi grammar and pronunciation as well as Hopi to English and English to Hopi glossaries. All the illustrations are done by children and show simplicity, beauty and a sense of humor. Further, the illustrations aid in the interpretation of the text. Grade A.
Use in the classroom The book is suitable for first through third grade readers. If I were introducing this story to students, I would first prepare an introduction to Hopi culture. I would talk a little bit about who wrote the book, why they wrote it and also talk about how the book was illustrated by children just like themselves. I might use it as an example of a type of writing project we might do in class. I would probably present it as a read along and in addition to getting children to focus on my words, the illustrations and text, I would also point out the Hopi vocabulary and have students correctly pronounce some of the key words. I would particularly emphasize some of the passages that can't quite be translated into English, such as the turtle's cry. At the end of the reading, I might have the children reread the text on their own and ask them to write on why they think Coyote wanted the turtle to sing or what they think the moral of the story is. Or I might simply discuss the story in class, having the children recount the basic story line. In addition to asking why the Coyote wanted the turtle to sing, I might also ask why the turtle was crying and did you ever feel abandoned and lost. Finally I would try to help them uncover the "moral" of this story and why Hopi elders would want this and other stories transmitted to future generations of children in the native Hopi language. The moral of the story is not quite as simple to decipher as it might seem. Clearly the Coyote outsmarted himself and was insulting and vain. Clearly the turtle demonstrated courage, integrity and "brains over brawn." The turtle also wisely assessed the ultimate intentions of the coyote and quickly devised a scheme that would bring (him) the turtle to safety and remove the coyote as threat to him and his kind. In the process the little turtle snatched "victory from the jaws of defeat." If I wanted to more fully develop a thematic unit, I might instruct students on more of the Hopi vocabulary, point out grammatical and tense differences between Hopi and English, bring in related stories for reading, writing, listening and discussing, etc. If I have one negative critique of this book it is that it does not provide examples of Hopi pronunciation. I would therefore attempt to procure videotapes, films or other media that show Hopi speakers conversing in everyday life or as is the case here, recounting ancient tales.
 

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