Napi (commonly known as Old Man) is the culture hero of the Blackfoot tribe.
Napi is frequently portrayed as a trickster, a troublemaker, and a foolish being, but he is
also a well-intentioned demigod responsible for shaping the world the Blackfeet live in,
and would frequently help the people or teach them important knowledge.
Napi is assisted in these tasks by his wife, Old Woman
(Kipitaki or Kipitaakii in Blackfoot). In some Blackfoot Indian legends both Old Man
and Old Woman are associated with coyotes
(some Blackfoot storytellers even call them "Old Man Coyote" and "Old Lady Coyote," as the
Crow Indians do.) In other Blackfoot legends Napi and Kipitaki have no particular connection with coyotes
and are instead described as the first man and woman made by the Creator, who in turn made the rest of humankind.
Napi shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Cree Wisakejak, Wabanaki Glooscap, and
Anishinabe Nanabozho, and many of the same stories are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity
of the protagonist differing.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
Storm Maker's Tipi:
Picture book based on a Blackfoot legend about how Napi taught the people to make tipis.
Mythology of the Blackfoot Indians:
Good collection of traditional Blackfoot legends and folktales including several Old Man stories.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
Compilation of more than a hundred Napi and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.