Reading Guide for the Native American Trickster Tales

These questions and vocabulary words found below are used to build our weekly Reading Checks, so you'd do well to print these Reading Guides out and take notes on them as you read.

Glossary Vocabulary -- circle the words in the text as you find them.  You'll need to be able to easily locate them later on.

Technical Vocabulary

animism scatological etiology/etiological lexical  
indigenous supposition folklore    

Common Vocabulary

lodge ejaculate embellish pacify  

Cultural References

palmetto red oak slippery elm gamass  

Introduction to the Trickster Tales

What are the two sides or functions of the Trickster

Tricksters across North America can take several forms -- what are some of those different forms in different parts of the continent?
Why is it important to understand the trickster figures in their cultural context?

Felix White, Sr. tells us that Trickster acts so wacky because . . . . . Why according to him [Your own words, please]?
How has the transcription and presentation of these tales changed over time?

Wakjankaga [Felix White, Sr.]

Days 19-21

How many stories will Felix White tell and why might that number be significant?

Who was Wakjankaga's father?
Who assigned a task for Wakjankaga to do and what does his name mean in English?

What was the trouble back on earth?

How do you say "first son" in the Winnebago language [two spellings?]?

What does Wakjankaga mean in Winnebago?

What two tasks was Wakjankaga supposed to accomplish and in what order?

Why does Felix White think Wakjankaga did not finish the job?

What emotion [no quoting, please] pulled Wakjankaga back to the people?

From The Winnebago Trickster Cycle

What did fox propose to coyote?

Of the four -- fox, nit, jay, and coyote -- who is oldest?

What changes that makes their lives less pleasant?

What did the introduction tell us was one of the Coyote's powers that Coyote now decides is necessary?

What were the different parts used for?

How did Coyote's "friends" respond to the new look?

Name first social mistake [breaking accepted convention] Coyote makes right after entering the village.

Name second convention that Coyote breaks after entering the village.

How many children did he have and why do you suppose he mystically had that many?

What was "wrong" with the youngest child?  If you had a child like that, what would you think?

What happened when Coyote's "sister-in-law"/"daughter-in-law tickled and teased Coyote?

How was the chief shamed by Coyote's actions?

Days 23-25

Coyote receives a warning:  What's he warned about?

How did Coyote respond to what he was told?

What effect did he experience first and what did he think it meant?

A little later, though, he realizes that he was appropriately named:  How so?

How did the log almost kill him?

Why does Coyote run into a village to try to solve his little problem?

How are the actions of the village silly and backwards?

How high did Coyote climb?

What happened when he could climb no more?

Why might the woman in a previous story of the cycle have mistaken Coyote for a racoon?

What did Coyote keep in the box?

We find yet other name for this Trickster at the end of these segments.  So far we have:  kanuna, Wakgankaga, Foolish One, and now . . . . What?

Sioux, "Ikto Conquers Iya" [Questions are out of order]

The Souix trickster, Iktomi, is often translated as. . . . ?

What is the relationship between Iktomi and Iya?

What doubt did Iktomi have in regards to his relationship with Iya?

Why did Iktomi make lots of noise?

The Trickster rarely does a good thing. However, one of the good things he does in our tales is . . . . What?

Navajo "Coyote, Skin, and the Prairie Dogs"
What does "golizhii" mean in Navajo?

What were the slendergrass seeds used for?

What taboo is Ma'ii violating at the very end of the tale?

What popular children's story would you compare this tale too?

Koasati:  "The Bungling Host"
Why might it be that the two versions of the story -- one offered in each column -- are so different?

What do Bel Abbey and Vulture have in common?

What might be a moral to this story?

How did coyote figure out the taboos?
List some taboos.

Who is not allowed the catch salmon?

Who won the net-making contest and why is that ironic?