Native American Storytelling Culture (Trickster stories) The character of Trickster in the Native American Storytelling is very difficult to define or categorize. Even though it appears in myths of many countries of the world, Native American culture has the most pronounced presence of Trickster both as a beloved, feared and revered figure. He is usually portrayed as having some features of both humans and animals, he has human thinking and mentality and animal form. Trickster is at the same time the culture-hero and outsider, the buffoon and the transformer, the creature with doubtful purpose and unclear habits and the one to protect and provide for the people who live in this world. He is capable of acquiring different, at times contradictory personalities in the single story, changing one after another like a skillful shape-shifter. As Larry Ellis (1993) describes him, Trickster creates through destruction and succeeds through failure; his mythic and cultural achievements are seldom intentional.
According to L. Ellis (1993), Trickster is an embodiment of the bewildering and confusing mixture of order and disorder, a representative of a confusion of all traditional and accepted categories. Trickster is compared to Shaman who exists in the borderline world of ambiguity and uncertainty, belonging to neither the world of reality, nor to the otherworld, he exists in both. As a member of the tribe, he is valued and is considered essential, but he always remains an outsider to certain degree, unpredictable, powerful and confusing. One is the most remarkable facets of Trickster is that of the mythical transformer. Being the creature of myth, he tries to change or affect the mythical surroundings in the every way possible and to the most of his ability.
The Essay on The Status of Native Culture and Identity In Contemporary Society Depicted In Thomas King’s Borders
Thomas King’s Borders, is a first person narrative designed to represent the continuing loss of identity experienced by the native population in contemporary North America. Borders tells the story of a native family living on a reservation located close to the Albertan-Montanan boarder in Western Canada. The protagonist of Borders is the unnamed mother of the family, who by refusing to properly ...
He does accomplish his task, even though his creative achievements are the result of irrational, unpractical and selfish goals. Trickster is a creature of myth, but he is capable of creation himself. But again the manner in which he creates is, as usual, the result of his foolish behavior or the act of creating is performed by accident. L. Ellis (1993), however, points out that Tricksters behavior may not be as confusing and inconsistent as it seems. His nature, even if haphazard and self-seeking, is also the source of his power.
In Native American culture he can be mythical embodiment of tribal shaman, who, performing mystical rituals, connects the world of people to the otherworld. His power is rooted in liminality and he calls it forth merely by expressing his liminal nature in the outlandish behavior for which he is so well known… he performs a shamanism of the highest order. He is both conjurer and conduit of the creative and cultural forces that he puts into motion. The role of Trickster in Native American Mythology is not only to entertain or to reflect real life practices of the tribe, his existence in the culture is extremely important as he brings so much for people to learn about how to live and treat others. According to Gayla Nelson (2005), the main role of the Trickster character is that of a great teacher and she describes some of his teaching methods.
Notwithstanding his own failure to learn from his own lessons, he nevertheless teaches one thing or another in every story. In the story Bat he seems to appear absolutely without any commitment or loyalty during the battle, showing his devotion now to one party, then to another, switching sides always showing preference to the winning one so as to keep himself safe. He manages to do so during the entire war and only after it is over he is punished for his trickery. The lesson taught is clear, Trickster providing the negative example, teaches how it is crucial to be honest, loyal and what the consequences are if one is unable to take a stand and show consistency. The myth Coyote Dances with a Star conveys the importance of listening and learning from our own mistakes. It also teaches the value of patience, so necessary even if painful.
The Morals of War By Don Coats War is a time of brutal reality that is sometimes hard to present to the younger aged members of our society. "Faithful Elephants" by, Yukio Tsuchiya presents the story of three elephants; John, Tony, and Wanly. These elephants must be killed in fear of a bombing on the zoo setting the elephants free to cause chaos in the streets. So, their trainers, the closest ...
In her article The Trickster as a Teacher G. Nelson describes the story: He dances with a star until he is tired and wants to let go. The star tries to tell him that he is too high up to let go, but he will not listen and lets go anyway. Luckily he is able to regain his original shape.Not long after that, having not learned a lesson here, and still believing he can do whatever he wants, he decides to dance with another star; this one is a comet. Because of poor judgment, he finds himself going so fast that he literally comes apart. This time, however, he does learn his lesson. The price he pays is the loss of two of his four lives and a hand, which he eventually regains.
He now has to learn patience, but he has at least learned from this mistake. In yet another Algonquian myth Glooscap Grants Three Wishes, Trickster proves how one should be careful what he wishes for as he might get just that. In the story, it is shown how people who dont heed the useful advice end up getting exactly what they asked for; their greed and impatience however take their toll and things they wished for ultimately kill them or drive to committing suicide. Only those who obey Glooscap and dont ask for anything frivolous are rewarded and return safely home. According to Blair A. Moffett (1979), Trickster is evolving, growing in understanding, changing and ultimately transforming at which point he becomes a teacher and a culture hero. First appearing as a cheater, committing lots of blunders, a blurred, chaotic, hardly unified being, without knowledge of life or himself, he later on in his existence comes up as almost God, deity, culture hero and peoples savior.
Moffett underlines that this happens only after Tricksters transformation or self-integration as before that, his behavior can hardly be considered responsible as he changes shapes and experiments with his identities including sex shifts. All this his path of self-searching finally results in his emerging as a transformed being with lots of hero qualities, which he possesses from the beginning but chooses to exercise them only after a long time of trying and erring. As G. Nelson (2005) writes, it is practically impossible to evaluate all the influence of the Trickster stories have on their readers. He is so ever changing and multi-faceted that his identity is elusive and definition is useless. Trickster stories have given a lot of generations insight and valuable information and the lessons he teaches are applicable to the real life now same as they have been when first told. His contribution to Native American Mythology is critical to any understanding of the culture and provides an enriching aspect of the mythology and legends to be found within that culture.
When you where a kid did your parents ever tell you stories about your culture or about your family's values? Chances are they where telling you a folk tale. Folk tales are stories passed down usually by word of mouth but often they are written down. Folk tales teach a valuable life lesson while entertaining the reader or in some cases the listener. This essay will give examples of three folk ...
Reference list: Ellis L. Trickster: Shaman of the Liminal, Studies in American Indian Literatures, Series 2,Volume 5, Number 4,Winter 1993 (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/faculty/ASAIL/SAIL2/ 54.html#55) Moffett B.A. Mind: Trickster, Transformer, Sunrise magazine, November 1979. Copyright 1979 by Theosophical University Press Nelson G. The Trickster as a Teacher, 2005 (http://www.gaylasgarden.com/trickster.htm).