Coyote's Place: A New Animated Series by Tom Bertino and Lysandra Nelson
Coyote’s Place exists in a land of “funny wonders.” It’s the humor of classic Looney Tunes meeting the varied aesthetics of Fantasia, in the world of Native North American history and lore.
Our purpose with the show is twofold. First, quality representations of indigenous peoples in mainstream media are sorely lacking, to the point where Native kids themselves have very little opportunity to see anyone who looks, talks, or acts like they do. Second, we hope to spark curiosity in young non-Native kids to learn about indigenous cultures and Native peoples as they really are, in their own voices, with humor and sensitivity. Everyone has a story of their own: their life, their family, their nation, their world. Those stories are valuable. Those stories are important.
In developing the world of Coyote’s Place we aim to create a rich, varied, lived-in setting with plenty of corners to explore in future episodes. Coyote and Raven reprise their roles at the station in the bumpers of every episode, while the worlds and characters of the tales will change based on where each tale originates and who is doing the telling.
We open every episode deep in the Southwestern desert, at a last-chance service station that just happens to be a magical nexus. Coyote and Raven live and work here, but it turns out that life can get pretty boring when you’re functionally immortal. To pass the time, they trade stories. New stories are always in demand!
Anytime a traveler blows in, usually with a problem to solve, Coyote asks for a story in return for the help he gives.
Coyote is our gateway into the world of the series. He’s tough and cool, seen it all and brought back souvenirs. Blustery, but can generally back it up.
Raven is the station's man-of-all-work; a wizard with anything mechanical. Excitable and flighty, curious, fed up with Coyote's arrogance and world-weariness. Raven is what's known in certain Native cultures as a two-spirit. He lives as a man and takes on a male role within society, but has many feminine characteristics.
Tale Worlds of Coyote's Place
Each episode’s tale transports us to a special world separate from the desert of the service station. Tale worlds are heavily influenced by the origin of each tale and the people telling it. Design, featured characters, and even animation style will change from episode to episode.
The first episode, “Coyote Paints the Sky,” starts near the Columbia River in a pre-European contact Oregon inspired by the traditional art of the Wasco and Wishram nations. When a teenage Coyote shows the five Fox Brothers the way to the Sky World, chaos (and a celestial pie fight) ensues.
Once in the Sky World, the characters undergo a transformation into star creatures and form the constellations and Milky Way.
Each episode of Coyote's Place ends back at the station where we learn a lesson inspired by the tale. Coyote and Raven send their visitors on their way.