The following Shoshone tale, Tatape Pekkappüh "Sun Killer," also known as "Cottontail and the Sun," was told to me in 1968 at Fort hall, Idaho, by Mrs. Myrtle Nevada. I recorded the tale on tape and later transcribed, translated, and linguistically analyzed it with the aid of Mrs. Nevada's niece, Mrs. Lillian Vallely. Mrs. Nevada was a well-known storyteller and had been telling tales like this for many years. She was in her late seventies in 1986, and unfortunately, like most of the other great Shoshone natükwinnawappinnüü "storytellers," she has since passed away. The tale was told in Tukku Tükka "Sheep Eater" Shoshone, the dialect of Northern Shoshone spoken by Mrs. Nevada and Mrs. Vallely.
The setting of the tale is in a Mythological Era well known to Native Americans and other enthusiasts of Native American folklore. The tale takes place in an era, long since passed, when animals, and sometime inanimate entities as well, were people-like. They are often referred to as people, and they may have proper names like people. for example, in this tale, Cottontail is referred to as Tatapu (ppüh) and Sun as Tatape, whereas the common noun for cottontail in Shoshone is tapun and that for sun is tape. Beings in the Mythological Era could talk, boast, laugh, lie, and cheat, and they had human wit, emotions, desires, and shortcomings. They often cooked food, wore clothes, and had hands to make tools and build houses, and in general, they did things much like people do. On the other hand, they also had their more normal animal-like (or thing-like) characteristics: rabbits had long ears, coyotes had sharp teeth and howled, buffalo had horns and fur, cranes had long legs, and the sun had light and could burn you.
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