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Legends and Stories of the Okanagan

The Turtles Won the Race

as told by Josephine Shuttleworth

Long ago, so long ago that the raindrops fallen on grey days in the Okanagan since that time would fill mighty rivers and run them to the sea, the Coyote sat on a hilltop.

He wanted to race with Turtle. He thought Turtle was so slow that the race would be a sure bet on himself, but everyone else had bet on Turtle.

Coyote thought he would make some money, as he was sure he couldn’t be outrun by Turtle, who, besides being small, was notoriously slow. He went down to the race quite confidently.

But Turtle had asked some of his friends to help him. At each corner of the racetrack there was another Turtle stationed.

“I’ll give you a long start and still beat you,” said Coyote when they were ready to run. This gave Turtle time to get to where his first friend was waiting. He hid in the long grass and the other Turtle darted forward, so that when Coyote reached the first corner he saw Turtle running ahead of him, and running as fast as though he had only just started.

At the second corner, just when he seemed to have gained on him, the long grass waved over the track a moment and he saw Turtle dash on with a fresh burst of speed.

At the third corner, Coyote had almost overtaken Turtle when, again, as if with renewed energy the Turtle drew ahead.

Puzzled, Coyote ran harder, and still, at every corner, he saw Turtle running as easily as when he had begun. At the end of the day, weary and footsore, Coyote saw Turtle reach the winning post ahead of him.

Coyote raced against what he thought was one power, when in reality it was the power of many. Because many Turtles worked as one Turtle, they won the race.