Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Coyote the Trickster

The Trickster_Coyote Paints the Night Sky-PCP

Coyote is possibly the most common character in Native American folklore.  There are really countless different versions of the character, but they’re all more or less variations on a theme.

Firstly, the character of Coyote isn’t actually, you know, a coyote.  He’s actually a person, one of the First People, who lived before people now.  He’s anthropomorphic, though, so in many stories he has characteristics of a coyote, or can change into the creature at will.  Coyote is a Trickster god, which covers a little more canvass than you might expect.  Tricksters aren’t simply mischeivous baddies looking to mess up mortal’s lives (though sometimes they certainly will do that), they’re more defined by the fact that they rely mainly on their intellect to survive—and that’s what Coyote is known for, survival.

You might be surprised to find out that Prometheus, the Greek titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans, is also classified as a Trickster.  In fact, there’s a similar story where Coyote brings fire (and death) to humans.

Then again, sometimes Coyote appears mainly to tempt or take advantage of others.  But really there is WAY too much about Coyote to sum it all up in one little blog post, so I encourage you to go look him up for yourself!

Check out Native American Trickster Tales, and A Coyote Reader by William Bright

*Art by Yonaka-Yomako on Deviant Art.

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About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

One response to “Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Coyote the Trickster

  • Michael Melville

    Great reference and painting. I too have had dealings with Coyote (or Hermes, if you are into Greek mythology). You might find my stories interesting. They have a spiritual and psychological thread running through the weaving. Amazingly true stories about what happens when you accept a ride on Coyote, out of nowhere comes the opportunity to laugh and cry through the changes we put ourselves through when magic is invited into our lives. Michael Melville, Ancient Whiteagle Wisdom http:/ridingcoyote.blogspot.com

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