This month’s Tale is about the Native American “Trickster.”
For the Month of May we will be working with the Trickster. The Native American character who reminds us to laugh and not take life to seriously. In American Indian tales and legends, the “Trickster” can be several characters. Often he is Coyote, but Coyote has friends who are sometimes tricksters too. There is Raven, Blue Jay, Beaver, Iktome, (the Spider man), The Great Rabbit, fox and Mink. There are also human tricksters.. Wasichu, a sharp trader, the Old Man of the Blackfoot and Crow. Even Whisky Jack takes his turn playing the prankster and troublemaker.
We focus this month on different tricksters and their qualities. Sometimes the Trickster is clever, other times he is stupid. He is always chasing after pretty women. He will cheat if it serves his purposes. He lies, steals and rebels against the rules. He is a prankster and full of paradox. Sometimes he is the hero, sometimes he is the creator and saves the day.
In our first tale, which comes from the White River Sioux, Coyote is the trickster who learns the hard way about the rules of the Giveaway.
“Coyote, Iktome, and the Rock.”
White River Sioux
On a warm day, Coyote and Iktome, (Spider man), are hiking along and see a big beautiful rock with moss veins. Coyote decides to give his Indian blanket to the Rock. He says, “Why this is a nice-looking rock. I think it has power.” He places his thick blanket on the rock and says, “Here, Iya, take this as a present. Take this blanket, friend rock, to keep warm so you will not freeze. You must feel cold.”
Coyote turns to his friend Iktome and tells him, “I’m always giving things away. The rock, Iya, looks real nice in my blanket.”
“His blanket, now”, says Iktome.
Later that week when it starts raining, and it is quite cold, Coyote has second thoughts about his Giveaway. He wants his nice thick blanket back. He and Iktome have gone into a cave to keep dry but Coyote is shivering from the cold. He tells his friend to go back to Iya and get the blanket.
When Iktome asks the rock for the blanket, the rock says no. He reminds Iktome, “What is given is given. Iktome goes back and tells Coyote. Coyote is outraged, goes to the Rock, and demands the blanket back.
“No!” says the rock, “What is given is given.”
Coyote jerks the blanket away. “Don’t you care that I am freezing to death? I could catch a cold.” Wrapping the blanket around him self, Coyote says, “There, that’s the end of it.”
The rock says, “By no means is this the end.”
Coyote, wrapped in the blanket, goes back to the Cave and he and Iktome wait out the storm. When the sun comes out Coyote and Iktome, go out side and sun them selves. After a while Iktome says, “What’s that noise?”
“A crashing, a rumble far off.” says Iktome.
Then they see the great rock rolling, thundering, and crashing down upon them.
“Run,” says Coyote.
They run as the great rock, Iya follows. They swim the river, and Iya follows. They run in the thick forest, and Iya follows. Wherever they go, Iya follows until they run out into the flats.
“Oh no” says Iktome, this is not really my quarrel and he rolls himself into a tiny ball and disappears down a mouse hole. Coyote runs as fast as he can but the big rock is close on his heels. Then Iya, the big rock, rolls right over Coyote, flattening him out altogether.
Iya takes the blanket and rolls back to his own place, saying, “So there!”
A rancher riding along sees Coyote lying there all flattened out. “What a nice rug.” He says rolling Coyote up. He takes the Coyote rug home and puts it in front of his fireplace. Whenever Coyote is killed, he can make himself come back to life, but this time Coyote takes the whole night to pull himself up into his usual shape. In the morning, the rancher’s wife tells her husband, “I just saw your rug running away.”
Now, Friends, hear this: Always be generous in heart. If you have something to give, give it forever.
I hope you enjoy this tale.