Coyote is traditionally a trickster character of many Native American traditions, appearing in the traditions of people in the northern regions of the arctic circle and in southern places in current day Mexico. (Erdoes and Ortiz 1998) Coyote has captivated audiences worldwide, but he is not the only type of trickster in the numerous Native American traditions that have existed, but is the most represented because he has been a "fan favorite" of the cultures who created him, the storytellers that have been recorded, and the field folklorists who collect these stories. (Bright 1978)
Coyote, being a trickster, doesn't always achieve his goals. He often fails and is sometimes the victim of other tricksters. (Bright 1993) Coyote is known for his wide antics, and he is a very useful stock character to use to teach a variety of lessons to many audiences, mainly children. (Grinnell 2008) Coyote is the perpetrator of gluttonous acts, creating the world, wandering, being selfish, being a thief, cheating, being an outlaw, being a spoiler, losing, being a clown (intentionally and not), being pragmatic, being horny, as "ruining" women, and as being a survivor of natural catastrophe. (Bright 1978) (Erdoes and Ortiz 1998)
Coyote is an important character is a multitude of traditions, and each tradition holds different levels of reverence for him. In some cultures he is half-man and half-animal, while to some peoples he is a full animal version of the animal. When a story is told starring Coyote, the audience knows that he is going to be up to no good, and knows that they should expect him to do something wrong. The idea that coyote represents trouble and efficiently informs the audience of certain story types to happen, namely the trickster story type, he is a useful tool in the traditions of which he is a part.
Grandma Coyote's Perception of CoyoteEdit
Grandma Coyote, Christian name Fran Chastain, is an active Native American story teller. Her heritage is a mix of Chickasaw, Cherokee, and European. She has learned the stories and Oral Traditions of the cultures from her father and grandparents, but adapts the stories she has heard into a story that she likes.
In 2008, Grandma Coyote performed a creation story at the Thundering Spirit Family Pow Wow, where her introduction and performance were videotaped and uploaded to YouTube. The video was accessed in December of 2008 and her introduction was transcribed. Grandma Coyote explains the origin of the story she told - that it was the summation of many parts of other stories of many peoples. She stresses that she does not want to offend any tribes or nations, but that the form of story she performed met her satisfaction and fulfilled the needs of the tradition. She talks about how Oral Traditions evolve over time, and can have influences on outside cultures. According to Grandma Coyote, the spirits of her grandmothers teach her and tell her things to say while she is performing the story.
Grandma Coyote also mentions the purpose of oral stories. She claims that while some are meant purely for entertainment, almost all of the stories were used to teach a message. Her example is that the stories are told after a child makes a mistake, and that after hearing the story enough after making the same mistake, they would understand that they were just as bad as Coyote or the other animal in the story, and eventually learn the error of their ways.
Grandma Coyote is a fan of Coyote, which is why she named herself after him. She knows that many people refer to him as a trickster, but she believes that he just likes to "play", such as a curious child would.
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- Thundering-Spirit.tripod.com -- Official Family and Pow Wow website
- Pantheon.org -- Encyclopedia Mythica™
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Twbtg2 → Abstract → Table of Contents → Trickster story type → Coyote → List and maps of Native American tribes → Ethnopoetics → Coyote Races Buffalo (Talk) → Source:Calvin Grinnell → Coyote and Junco (Talk) → Performance Theory → Coyote and Turtle Story (Talk) → Don't Be Too Curious (Talk) → Immanent Art → Rabbit's Short Tail (Talk) → Coyote Steals a Drink (Talk) → The Coyote & The Prairie Dog (Talk) → Sources → Other Routes