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What Is the Main Idea in the Short Story "Coyote and the Buffalo" by Mourning Dove?


"Coyote and the Buffalo" is a short story by Christine Quintasket, whose pen name is Mourning Dove. The story was written in the late 1800s, and the main idea centers on the conflict between two anthropomorphic creatures: Coyote and Buffalo Bull. Buffalo Bull wants revenge because Coyote disrespected him, kicking his scull around before Buffalo mysteriously came back to life. The two have a lengthy discussion and cut a deal, but the story doesn't end well for Coyote.

A Deal Breaker

Buffalo attempts to kill Coyote, but Coyote convinces Buffalo that he needs new horns to kill his real adversary, Young Buffalo. Coyote carves a strong set of horns, and Buffalo is pleased. Buffalo defeats Young Buffalo with his horns and takes back his herd. He gives Coyote a buffalo cow for his help defeating Young Buffalo but tells him never to kill the cow. He can only shave off a piece of meat as he needs, and the cow will heal itself. Coyote tires of the meat and wants to eat the bones, so he kills the cow. An old woman steals the bones while Coyote sleeps so he's left with nothing. The main idea supports the theme that greed and selfishness lead to poverty.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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