Legends, stories and tales make up the oral history of the American Indian culture. Many legends reflect the values of the Indian people and explain how the environment should be treated. Legends may be humorous and full of good-natured teasing. They often refer to tricksters and their influence. The coyote is frequently portrayed as a trickster.
Why the Willows are Many Colors (A Flathead Legend)
One day Old Coyote was walking along the river bank. A big windstorm came up, and because it was so strong, it blew the old coyote along, faster and faster.
There were some willows growing along the bank. Old Coyote took hold of the willows. He held on until the wind died down. If the willows had not been there, old coyote would have been blown away. Because he was so glad, he rewarded the willows and changed them into beautiful colors.
And that is why, once every year, the willows change into many colors.
Coyote and Bobcat (A Ute Legend)
A long time ago, Bobcat had a long tail and a long nose. One day while Coyote was walking, he caught Bobcat sleeping on the rocks. Coyote then decided to push Bobcat's nose in and cut off his tail. After he had done that, he went home. At noon, the Bobcat woke up. "Oh, what has happened to my nose and my tail? They are no longer long!" Then he thought to himself that it must have been Coyote's doing.
Coyote was taking a nap when Bobcat caught him sleeping. Bobcat thought to himself that he should do to Coyote what Coyote had done to him. So he pulled hard on Coyote's tail and pulled his nose until they became very long, and then he ran away.
That is why Coyote now has a long nose and tail, and Bobcat has a short nose and tail.
Resource: "American Indian Legends," a Deseret Morning News educational section.