Fire Beings Native American Folklore Retold by Ashley Cunningham When man saw winter moving near, he became fearful and unhappy. “If only we could have had a small piece of the sun during the winter.' Coyote, overhearing this, felt sorry for the men and women. So Coyote went to the mountain of the Fire Beings and crept to its top, to watch the way that the Beings guarded their fire. Coyote saw that the Beings were always jealously watchful of their fire except during one part of the day. Coyote waited through the day, and watched as night fell and two of the Beings went off to sleep.
Coyote lunged from the bushes, snatched up a glowing portion of fire, and sprang away down the mountainside. Screaming, the Fire Beings flew after him. Swift as Coyote ran, they caught up with him, and one of them reached out a clutching hand. Her fingers touched only the tip of the tail, but the touch was enough to turn the hairs white, and coyote tail-tips are white still. Coyote shouted, and flung the fire away from him. Squirrel saw the fire falling, and caught it, putting it on her back and fleeing away through the tree-tops. The fire scorched her back so painfully that her tail curled up and back, as squirrels' tails still do today. The Fire Beings then pursued Squirrel, who threw the fire to Chipmunk. Then, as she turned to run, one Being clawed at her, tearing down the length of her back and leaving three stripes that are to be seen on chipmunks' backs even today. Chipmunk threw the fire to Frog, and the Beings turned towards him. One of the Beings grasped his tail, but Frog gave a mighty leap and tore himself free, leaving his tail behind in the Being's hand---which is why frogs have had no tails ever since.
As the Beings came after him again, Frog flung the fire on to Wood. And Wood swallowed it. The Fire Beings gathered round, but they did not know how to get the fire out of Wood. In the end, defeated, the Beings went back to their mountain-top and left the People alone.
But Coyote knew how to get fire out of Wood. And he went to the village of men and showed them how. He showed them the trick of rubbing two dry sticks together, and the trick of spinning a sharpened stick in a hole made in another piece of wood. So man was from then on warm and safe through the killing cold of winter.