The Native American Trickster Tales: A Different Kind of Hoax
The differences in each of the Native American Trickster Tales. Trickster Tales may be humorous because of all the chaos the Trickster causes, but the Trickster helps cultures in many ways. These tales entertain as well as teach valuable life lessons to the reader or listener. Trickster Tales are very diverse, and the Trickster character changes, depending on the region the tale comes from. One of the only things all Trickster Tales have in common is that the Trickster is always male, but can alter his sex at will. He may cause chaos, but also can create order and meaning. A study of selected Native American Trickster Tales will show their characteristics of diversity, entertainment, and didacticism.
The Native American Trickster differs from region to region and from tribe to tribe in many ways. To begin, the Trickster has many names; the Winnebago Trickster is Wakjankaga as well as Kunuga, whereas the Sioux call him Iktomi. However, the difference does not stop there, “The term Trickster has no equivalent in any Native language” (100). He is mostly referred to by an animal name, “Coyote in California, Oregon, the inland plateau, the Great Basin, the Southwest, and the southern plains; Rabbit or Hare in the Southeast; Spider in the northern plains; Raven in the Arctic; and Jay or Wolverine in parts of Canada” (100). The differences between the Trickster Tales does not stop there, as his name suggest the Trickster likes to play tricks on humans and cause chaos wherever he goes, but he has also done things to help mankind as well. As Felix White Sr. says in “Felix White Sr.’s Introduction to Wakjankaga” from his book Stories about Wakjankaga (103), Wakjankaga was sent to earth to teach monsters not to hurt humans or kill them if they would not learn, a job he forgets to do. Iktomi, the Sioux Trickster, does kill a monster that eats people in “Ikto Conquers Iya, the Eater” (112). The Trickster is...
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