The betrayal of story characters by their trusted friends and family, or by people they have previously shown kindness to, is a
dramatic plot element that is common in literature worldwide, including traditional Native American stories and legends. Of course,
betrayals are very negative behavior in every world literature we know of.
In Native American legends betrayers are usually
either the villains of the stories, or trickster characters in their worst aspects. In some stories, however, characters who have
betrayed people that trusted them end up seeing the error of their ways and being forgiven. It is a common element of
Native American teaching stories that characters who do bad things are sometimes able to learn from their mistakes and become
One special note about a story: we have had several emails asking us about a Native American legend regarding a boy who is betrayed
by a rattlesnake he saved, like this one.
This is not actually a traditional Native American story-- it is told by some contemporary Native American storytellers, often with an attached
warning about drugs and alcohol, but it is actually one of Aesop's fables,
The Farmer and the Viper, and never appears
in original collections of Native American folktales.