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On into the night, the stars and galaxies play...

won't you join their revelry?

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Created on 2009-05-18 04:41:04 (#355727), never updated

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Long ago, the Holy People were creating precise constellations out of crystals, which were what we call the stars. The crystals were in a buckskin pouch to keep them safe until they were placed. The Black God was carefully placing each star, with purpose and location, in the Upper Darkness that we call the sky. He created the constellations. He named each one and placed them in the sky. This is how it was.

Being the nosy trickster that he is, Coyote had been watching the whole thing. He walked right up to the Black God and asked what he was doing, and if he could help. The Black God replied that he was bringing order and light to the night sky, and that Coyote the Trickster should mind his own business, because he brought chaos and disorder, and could not be trusted. Coyote was very angry that his offer to help had been rebuffed, and that he had been insulted. He grabbed the Black God's buckskin pouch and ran. Opening the pouch, he threw handfuls of the crystals into the sky, where they flew in all directions and stuck, and began to shine. He even poured out the remnant of crystal dust from the bottom of the bag, and blew it into a glowing trail across the sky as he ran. Now there was nothing at all left in the bag!

The Holy People were furious with Coyote, and decreed that all the stars that Coyote had thrown into the sky should have no names at all, and thus would the Trickster be shamed, for all the Black God's stars had names and an orderly placement. But Coyote had held back four shining crystals, including the biggest, shiniest one that had been in the bag. "You see - these will be MY stars!" he exclaimed. Instead of throwing them, he carefully placed them, with the brightest one in the southern sky, and the others in each of the other three directions - one of them was Polaris, the North Star.

Because the Holy People had already decreed that only the stars he had thrown would remain unnamed, they agreed to name these four stars. But they only allowed that trickster to name just one of these for his very own, so Coyote chose the biggest, brightest one, the first one that he had placed.

The Navajo still call this star Coyote's Star, but others call it Canopus. It is only visible around winter solstice in Navajo lands, and cannot be seen at all above 37°N latitude. But when it is seen, it is the second-brightest star in the sky after Sirius.

-- adapted from Navajo legends

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