Native American Folklore As Mythology Essay

1336 words - 5 pages

Throughout history, and all over the world, mythology has been developed as a way of explaining the unknown and coping with one’s existence. Why does the sun shine? Well, seemingly, to generations past, something is controlling the universe, so there must be a god in charge of the sun and many other natural phenomenon. During the creation of Native American myths, “there was much in the way of free-range food, but hunting wasn't as easy as getting up in the morning, taking a stroll and shooting a few passing bison with your bow” (Godchecker). Times were tough, “even Plains societies who lived off the prolific buffalo fell under the threat of starvation at times” (Godchecker). Finally, “when herds were found, the people were grateful and thanked the Gods profusely” (Godchecker). In Native American myths, “animals had powerful spirits and it was necessary to thank them and placate them if you wanted to make a meal of them” (Godchecker). They believed “you could see into the souls of the BEAVER, BADGER and Buffaloes as they went about their business,” or “feel the THUNDER-BIRD fixing the weather, and revel in the rascality of RAVEN, MANABOZHO and COYOTE with their tantalising tricks” (Godchecker). How can there be any doubt as to whether or not the Native American legends can be considered myths?
Essentially, there are three typical characteristics of mythology. Classic myths often include gods or supernatural heroes, are “closely linked to religion,” and “generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form” (“Mythology” Wikipedia). Furthermore, myths provide an explanation for the existence of life and how the world came to be.
Classic myths are often include gods or supernatural heroes who sometimes aid in explaining how “customs” and “taboos were established” (“Mythology” Wikipedia). The Native American Trickster is usually described as a character that “is a wandering, bawdy, gluttonous, and obscene” (72). The Trickster is “usually male but able to alter his sex at will,” he “may copulate with his daughter or daughter–in-law or send his penis swimming across rivers in search of sexual adventure” (72). He is often characterized as being “selfish, amoral, foolish, destructive, and as his name indicates, given to duping others in his own interest” (72). However, the trickster “is also a culture hero, someone often with godlike power who long, long ago helped to establish the order of the world that we know today” (72). Though, his folly caused him to forget his purpose of ridding the earth of evil entities, he is still a staple in Native American tales. Every tribe has their own version of the trickster!
The Winnebego trickster, also known as Wakjankaga, was “sent to instruct or destroy monsters who would be harmful to the people (a mission he foolishly forgets)” (73). He fails his mission because he becomes too consumed with “The people…These who walk on two legs, because he was fascinated by them”...

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