Dear Duane Linklater,
Thank you for your email.
Although I am far from an expert on Native American beliefs, I do not think that the statement causes too much controversy as to whether their religion is based around monotheism or polytheism. The use of the word 'god' without the capital letter is significant. The Oxford English Dictionary's second definition of the word 'god' is as follows:
"An image or other artificial or natural object (as a pillar, a tree, a brute animal) which is worshiped, either as the symbol of an unseen divinity, as supposed to be animated by his indwelling presence, or as itself possessing some kind of divine consciousness and supernatural powers; an idol."
And so, following this explanation, the notion that the coyote had been a powerful god for the Native Americans merely suggests that the coyote was something revered and recognizably contained spiritual or divine power.
I hope this serves as some use.
Best Wishes,
Joseph Kendra Information Assistant
Tate Britain
Millbank London
SW1P 4RG?T: +44(0) 20 7887 8888

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