Department of Arts and Science
American Lit. I Fall 2011
Professor D.L. Malone
Through the reading of several Native American Trickster Tales, it becomes apparent that the role of family is very important. It is clear that Native Americans believe that everyone is related. The Native American family is matriarchal in nature, and while women play a large role in the legends of the beginning of human life, men tend to be the main characters in these ancient myths . The two tales compared in paper consist of “The Winnebago Trickster Cycle” and “Ikto Conquers Iya, the Eater”.
The story of “The Winnebago Trickster Cycle” further illustrates man’s relationship with nature as the characters are a fox, a bird, and a nit who seek to live together before the world becomes “a difficult place in which to dwell”. Implied in the story is Native American’s belief of being efficient with resources taken from nature. Trickster, when seeking to become a woman, uses both an elk’s liver and kidneys to make female body parts. These parts of the elk would probably not be eaten, but Trickster finds a way to use all of his resources. It is also illustrated in a Iroquois story as the universe is made from the remains of the mother in another tale.
Nature is also illustrated as a force to be respected. Trickster learns to respect nature the hard way through eating a bulb that causes gastrointestinal issues. Through reading these early Native American stories, mankind’s relationship with nature is clearly one of the culture’s strongest aspects. This is why many Native Americans today are named after objects in nature and why the Native American belief system includes some inanimate objects, like the wind, as beings with a soul. The Native American culture emphasizes man’s role in preserving the earth and nature, and these stories help pass this knowledge down from generation to generation
This concept is continued in the...