Coyote is probably the most famous Amerindian trickster. Tales and anecdotes about his tricks and misadventures abound in the folklore of Native Americans. It is important to beware, at the outset, that this folklore is oral, which means that it is subject not only to personal transmission and transformation, but also to rules and traditions that define its domain of manifestation and application. In other words, Coyote’s stories are neither a rigid canon, nor a set of stories that can be told and applied in every condition and in all contexts. For example, among the Navajo, Coyote stories are told exclusively in the winter time, following the first frost and preceding the first thunderstorm. 1 This is highly indicative of the psycho-spiritual and cosmic implications of these tales. It is likely that Coyote’s tales perform a subtle compensatory function within the community at that time, bringing laughter at a time of cosmic and human contraction. They therefore fulfill a very specific role while teaching us that Coyote’s stories are not for all times. Like all good things they have an organic meaning; their comical and transgressive value cannot be put into motion in an indiscriminate manner.


High Caste Inventive Aspect Organic Meaning Personal Transmission Horizontal Objectivity 
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© Patrick Laude 2005

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  • Patrick Laude

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