Rock Art: Coyote Eats the Sun


Another book I got that I’ve been looking at is called Ancient Images on Stone: Rock Art of the Californias. It was published in 1983 through the Rock Art Archive at the Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. I’d found a used library book copy on Amazon that was pretty cheap and it has been really cool to page through. I’ve been trying to find information about indigenous rock art in Northern California, although most of what I’ve found tends to be from Southern or Mid-California. When I was in D.C. at the NMAI’s Cultural Resource Center, I got to go down into the basement and check out a lot of the really old stuff that wasn’t necessarily associated with any modern-day tribes. There were lots of interesting things, including various stone bowls, carvings, etc. I believe most of them were from excavations that had taken place decades ago, so there wasn’t necessarily much information about the objects, but they were still pretty powerful. (Actually, that whole place is pretty powerful from all the objects it has stored in there. It is an experience!)


Anyhow, my favorite image in the book is Plate 8 on page 29. The caption reads: “Coyote was a character important in the mythologies of numerous California peoples. This Tule River Indian Reservation site possibly depicts a well-known tale about Coyote eating the sun and causing an eclipse. Photo: William D. Hyder.”


Below is a crappy iPhone snapshot of the picture, but you can get the idea.




The facing page also has the following quote:


When Susana ate the sun,

it caused an eclipse.

“Please, please, Susana, Susana,

Please, please, oh don’t devour our Sun.”


Beatrice Wilcox

Tule River


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