Edited by Matt Dembicki
All cultures have tales of the trickster – a crafty creature or being who uses cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, or simply cause mischief. He disrupts the order of things, often humiliating others and sometimes himself. In Native American traditions, the trickster takes many forms, from coyote or rabbit to raccoon or raven. The first graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales, Trickster brings together Native American folklore and the world of comics. In Trickster, 24 Native storytellers were paired with 24 comic artists, telling cultural tales from across America. Ranging from serious and dramatic to funny and sometimes downright fiendish, these tales bring tricksters back into popular culture.
What Makes a Trickster?
Trickster features stories from many different Native American nations, from many different regions and times. Despite this, many share similar characters and themes. For example, many tales include a coyote. Reading through the different tales, what are some of the similar characteristics of the coyote? What are three other trends from across the stories in this book?
Even though the stories are provided from various Native American nations, why do you think they have things in common?
The Folktale Tradition
Throughout history, people passed down lessons and the history of their culture through stories that they told aloud. Listen to one or more of the storytellers featured on this website, so you can hear how these tales might have been told in times past.
Think of an event in your life that didn’t go as planned. Write a summary outline of the tale to include:
- Who is in the story?
- When did the story take place?
- Where did the story take place?
- What happened (or didn’t happen that was supposed to)?
- Why did the event not go as planned?
- What was the morale of the story?
Now make up a trickster-style tale based on this summary. Tell your trickster tale to someone else, or share in a group, mimicking the style and suspense you heard the master storytellers use.
Do You Know the Meaning?
Many of the stories in Trickster were written by Native American authors. As a result, there are many that have non-English words and names in them. Some are clearly identified and some are not. See if you can find these words in the book and find out what they mean. How did you determine what they meant? What clues did you use?
Raven the Trickster
Azban and the Crayfish
Rabbit and the Tug of War
The Wold and the Mink
Giddy Up, Wolfie
Waynaboozhoo and the Geese
Puapualenalena, The Wizard Dog of Waipi’o Valley
- Mauna Kea
The Bear Who Stole the Chinook
Espun and the Grandfather