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The Image of The Trickster in Native American Tales

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This essay seeks to showcase that the trickster is part of the society in Native American tales. The trickster crosses various cultural traditions and there are significant differences between tricksters in the traditions of different parts of the world. This essay however focuses on Native American tales. Tricksters in Native American tales come in different forms and shapes, but whether they come in the form of a god, goddess, spirit, human, animal, or anthropomorphization, one cannot deny that tricksters have had an enormous impact on their societies in the stories. This essay will zero in on how tricksters make a contribution to society and will further discuss how tricksters are part of society.

One can firmly posit that tricksters are part of the society in Native American tales because their actions directly affect society. While tricksters are generally self-serving, their actions often ripple through their societies, causing unintended changes. They act as a sort of catalyst their antics are the cause of other characters’ discomfiture. One of their important roles is to undermine authority. They love breaking rules and making leaders and social norms look silly. In doing so they may give more serious social reformers the courage to step forward. This shows how tricksters’ actions may engender meaningful change in society. They play an important role in society and significantly contribute to their communities, hence they are part of society. 

The tricksters in some stories however impacted society in a negative way. Occasionally, tricksters take an opposite position and play a role in creating obstacles between a hero and their noble goal. They might steal an important object and lead the hero astray, or even betray the hero by posing as a friend. Tricksters can be creators in one story and destroyers in another, but either way, their actions have profound effects on society, therefore this shows that the trickster is part of society in Native American tales. Their actions affected society in a significant way and their contributions to the progress of different societies positive or negative made them part of the communities in the tales. They participated in activities of the community just like any other members of society.

The trickster in whatever form or shape they come in it is evidently clear that the trickster is a huge part of society and has always played a pivotal role in the transformation of society. We see in the Native American trickster an openness to life’s multiplicity and paradoxes. In some tales the Native American trickster is foolish and in other stories is wise. He can be a hero in one tale and a villain in another. Whatever role they assume in the tale, they still affect significant changes in society which demonstrate their direct link to the society. Just like any other members of the society who also can be heroes or villains, who can be daft or wise, tricksters are part of the society in the Native American stories.

There are great examples of tricksters who significantly impacted their communities and whose actions went a long way in changing the lives of people in their communities. One such example is Coyote. In the Pacific Northwest tradition, Coyote is mostly mentioned as a messenger. These are tales of a tricksters that served his community. The trickster contributed to society by serving his community as a messenger, which was an important role in society. Just like any other member of society, the trickster played a role in the development or day-to-day life of the people, hence he was part of that civilization.

More so, as the cultural hero, Coyote appears in various mythic traditions, generally with the same magical powers of transformation, resurrection, and medicine. These powers directly affect changes in communities or help transform and protect communities. He is engaged in changing the ways of rivers, creating new landscapes, and getting sacred things for people. All this had economic effects on the way of life of the people in the society. Coyote used his special magical powers to serve the society he was part of. Also of mention is the tradition of Coyote fighting monsters. This serves to show that tricksters used their special powers to protect their communities, which is reflective of how much they cared about society. According to the Wasco tradition, Coyote was a hero that fought and killed Thunderbird, the killer of people ( This demonstrates how tricksters provided security to their communities. They were an important part of the society in the native American tales.

Coyote as a trickster is always different in different tales. In some stories, he is a noble trickster, in one particular story, Coyote takes water from the Frog people because it is not right that one people have all the water ( Tricksters used their special powers to protect the weak and fought for what is right. In this case, Coyote stood for noble values like equality. He corrected a social injustice and made a huge contribution in bringing about social change and equality. His actions show that like any other member of the society he was compassionate and patriotic and fought for his people, therefore he was part of the community. In other tales, however, Coyote was malicious, but even if he contributed to society negatively he was still part of that society because his actions directly affected the society in a great way.

Another example of a trickster that made a significant contribution to their society in Native American tales is Nanabozho. Nnabozho’s first task was to name all the plants and animals which was major contribution to the civilization he belonged to. He further made an economic contribution to his society which was key to the survival of his community, he invented fishing which helped his community be food secure. All these important contributions are evident in how tricksters are part of society in Native American tales.

Raven is another trickster that vividly demonstrates how tricksters are part of society in Native American stories. Raven was thought of as a transformer. He was the being that changed things. Raven created the land, released the people from a cockle shell, and brought them fire. Raven stole the light and bought it out to light up the world. Tricksters transformed their communities, they made valuable contributions to society. Raven is one trickster who shows that tricksters as part of the community played a pivotal role in the transformation of communities and helped secure basic needs for society.

All in all, tricksters are a major part of society in Native American tales. They added value to society as has been discussed in this essay. With little regard for conventions and often defying or mocking accepted norms, they provoke interesting meaningful social commentary which in turn leads to social transformation. They made significant contributions that aided growth and improved people’s way of life. They taught humans or communities essential skills of survival, such as how to make fire, procreate, or catch or raise food. They were essential to contact with the sacred. They were essential to creation and birth. They used their charisma, guile, and cunningness to carry the day for their communities.



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The Image of the Trickster in Native American Tales. (2022, August 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from
“The Image of the Trickster in Native American Tales.” GradesFixer, 01 Aug. 2022,
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