Trickster Tales of Native Americans

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Kind and selfish, deep and shallow, male and female, and foolish and wise aren’t always words that are associated with each other, quite the opposite in fact. However, when it comes to the trickster tales of Native Americans, each word is associated with the other and describes more or less the same person or animal. To Native American people a trickster affects the world for an infinite number of reasons, including instruction and enjoyment. A trickster, like the name implies, is a cunning deception. A trickster can be a hero. However, at the same time he could introduce death. How is that heroic? Why would a group of people want to remember a person that brings punishments such as death? The function the trickster tales have/ had on Native American communities is still powerful today quite possibly because of their context, the lessons they reap, and the concerns they address. As the tales are told, the stories unravel showing the importance of a trickster and the eye-opening experiences they bring. The stories that reveal these eye-opening experiences are very extraordinary. The story of Wakjankaga the Winnebago trickster is a story not many people from modern time, and I would think also in historical times, would not reenact. First, a male is converted to a female in order to trick a chief’s son. Next, three males have sex with this recently converted female (trickster). Then, the female (trickster) has three babies with the chiefs son. Finally, when the youngest child is old enough to be on its own, the mother (trickster) leaves the tribe, when usually the children would leave the tribe. These aforementioned unusual circumstances cause the story to be unacceptable. Most of the trickster tales are taboo, possibly because of... ... middle of paper ... ...hey leave the reader with a lesson that could influence communities. Their context, impact, and ability to be associated in any society allow them to function with power and vigor in societies to come and in societies past. Although the language and grammar of the trickster tales is challenging, the image that can be created is greater than any barrier. Dr. Bright of the Unviersity of California recognizes the persistence of the Native American tricksters tales in the world today. “As we speak of Trickster today, you must try to blow life into the image, to imagine Trickster as life energy, to allow Trickster to step out of the verbal photograph we create . . . . Because trickster stories still have power: the power to bring us to laughter, the power to baffle us, the power to make us wonder and think and, like Trickster, just keep going on” (Bright).

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