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Native American Stories About Adultery

Adultery is usually treated as a serious transgression in Native American folklore, comparable to other major familial wrongs like failing to provide for children or parents-in-law. Cheating spouses of both genders are usually punished in some way during the course of the story. (This is true even in the folklore of tribes that practiced polygamy.) There is one notable set of exceptions, however: in trickster tales, the extramarital affairs of scoundrels like Coyote or Iktomi are often played for laughs. Even in these stories, the tricksters' adulterous adventures often have unpleasant consequences for them, but they never see the error of their ways. Of course, the audience is already aware that characters like Iktomi are badly behaved louts, whose exploits often are meant to demonstrate exactly how NOT to behave (usually in the funniest way possible.) So the serial adultery of trickster characters may elicit a little bit of admiration and a lot of laughs, but everyone knows it isn't behavior to be emulated. Ordinary humans who attempt to cheat on their husbands or wives in Native Amerian legends usually end up abandoned, dead, or turned into monsters.

Native American Adultery Spirits

Rolling Head (Plains Indian)

Legends About Adultery

*How Lox Told A Lie:
    In this Wabanaki story Wolverine tries to deny an affair with his brother's wife, but the truth is revealed
    and Wolverine kills himself in a rage.
*Pamola and the Penobscots * The Mournful Mystery of the Partridge-Witch:
    Wabanaki stories in which young spouses of spirit beings die or vanish when their families force
    them to marry another. (Note that this happens to both husbands and wives.)
*The Rolling Head * Case of the Severed Head:
    Cheyenne legends about an adulterous wife, murdered by her husband, who became an undead monster.
Hariwali And The Wonderful Tree:
    Arawak story about adulterous women punished by being turned into animals.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

American Indian Trickster Tales:
    This compilation of Native American trickster stories contains many humorous legends about adultery
    and other sexually inappropriate behavior. These stories are not intended for children.



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