Navajo Coyote Tales: From Legend to Film


Not only are the Navajo Coyote Collection stories a humorous venue for learning language, stories, and for understanding a fragment of the cultural fabric, but the DVD collection also represents a significant slice of animation history. 

During the early 1970s, Kent Tibbetts, the first director of the San Juan School District Media Center, and Don Mose, Jr., who was a cultural consultant, had the opportunity to work with a firm named Computer Image Corporation. The Denver-based firm was pioneering computer animation. They offered to work with the Coyote stories in an experimental capacity to create 16 mm animated films. The Coyote film animation project became a collaborative effort involving the art students and cultural consultants of San Juan School District, technicians from Computer Image Corporation, and funding from the Utah Navajo oil royalties.

San Juan High School students drafted the artwork, imaginatively drawing the characters of Coyote and his companions upon which Computer Image Corporations would base their animation. Coyote and the Horned Toad was the first experiment, followed by Coyote and Beaver, Skunk, Rabbit, and finally, Coyote and the Lizards. Each character personification was permitted only six moving body parts, or "bones" as they were called. Each "bone" or part was a separate image that was assembled into one complete figure with the computer program. Irving Toledo became the still-familiar voice of Coyote; Jim Dandy Sr. narrated the stories; and the voices of Don Mose, Jr. and Herbert Frazier filled in the other animal dialogue. 

We hope you enjoyed the video and please note that the DVD is also available for purchase from the San Juan School District Heritage Language Resource Center.