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Legendary Native American Figures: Coyote the Trickster (Southwest)

Name: Coyote (Plains Indian)
Tribal affiliation: Sioux, Arikara
Also known as: Old Man Coyote
Native names: Mica, Maca, Chirich
Type: Animal spirits, trickster, coyote
Related figures in other tribes: Coyote (West Coast), Coyote (Southwest), Jamul (Achumawi)

Coyote is one of the two major trickster figures of Plains Indian mythology. (The other is Iktomi or Spider, and the same stories are often told with Coyote as the main character in one community and Iktomi/Spider as the main character in another.)

In Plains Indian stories, Coyote nearly always takes the shape of a man. He is clever but reckless, and is constantly getting himself and the people around him into trouble with his socially inappropriate behavior like greed, boastfulness, lying, and chasing women. Coyote stories are usually humorous in nature, and many of them contain what today is considered 'adult humor.' Other Plains Coyote legends are cautionary tales about the consequences of bad behavior and the dangers of interacting with irresponsible people. Although Coyote usually either narrowly avoids death or returns to life after being killed, the mortals around him are not always so lucky.

Plains Indian Coyote Stories

*How Wihio Got Tongue:
    Cheyenne legend about Spider getting the better of Coyote.
*The Magic Windpipe:
    An Arikara story about the trickster Coyote.
How the Old Man Made People:
    Blackfoot legend about A-pe'si the Coyote creating women.
*Coyote and the Origin of Death: * How Death Became Eternal:
    The Caddo story of how Coyote brought death to the world.
*Coyote The Hungry:
    Caddo tales of the trickster Coyote and his humorous attempts to catch turkeys.
*Why Coyote Stopped Imitating His Friends: * Coyote Imitates His Hosts: * When Coyote Imitated Woodpecker:
    More humorous Coyote stories from the Caddo tribe, about the trickster trying to mimic other animals' powers.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Trickster: Native American Tales:
    Excellent anthology of stories about Coyote and other trickster animals told by Native American storytellers from various tribes.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Coyote and other Native American tricksters.
    (Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.)

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Additional Resources

 Sioux legends
 Dakota language
 Arikara language
 Lakota words
 Plains Indian tribes



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