The Trickster

Coyote Trickster

Fox Trickster

The Native American Trickster. Discover facts and information about the culture of Native American Indians and Trickster

  • Trickster of different American Indian tribes
  • Definition of a Trickster
  • Supernatural Creatures
  • The Clown, the Shape Shifter, the culture hero
  • Interesting facts and information about the Trickster in the legends, culture and beliefs of Native American Indians
Native American Culture
Native Indian Tribes Index

Definition of Trickster: What is a Trickster? A Trickster is a legendary supernatural creature that features in the stories, myths and legends of the different tribes of Native American Indians. Tricksters are mythical creatures that are mischievous supernatural beings who take the form of animals such as the coyote, spider, ram, hare and raven. The trickster, who is almost always male, represents uncertainty. The trickster disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. The trickster loves to upset things and spread confusion. The Trickster can be fun, like a clown, but they can also have a cruel side. The Trickster can be a hero in one tale and a villain in the next tale.  His outrageous and totally unconventional behaviour might include lying, cheating, tricking, and deceiving. These traits might be unconscious due to the Trickster being a fool lacking in intellect or may have the deliberate actions of a spiteful spoiler who lacks morality.

Native American Mythology
Mythical Creatures
Monsters and Mythical Creatures List

The Character of the Trickster
Despite the many tribes and their different mythologies the character of every Trickster has a couple of the following traits:

  • The Trickster fundamentally causes confusion and is inconsistent
  • The Trickster that is a deceiver and plays tricks
  • The Trickster that is a shape-shifter
  • The Trickster that turns a situation upside down and often reflect the uncertain nature of life
  • The Trickster that acts as a messenger and imitator of the gods
  • The actions of a trickster are spontaneous, without proper thought

Trickster Tales
The Trickster have been brought to life in many tales, myths and stories. The tales, stories, legends and myths relating to the Trickster were often morality tales and told to teach lessons about proper behavior to children. Those who told the stories were free to change or add elements to the basic story to make them relevant to the subject being taught. The trickster tales are generated by human imagination and many are based on personal experience. In some Native American trickster tales he is depicted as foolish and other tales he is depicted as wise. The Trickster can therefore be a hero in one tale and a villain in the next tale. The Trickster rebels against authority, makes fun of the overly serious, creates long-winded schemes, that may or may not work. He is sometimes his own worst enemy but his purpose in Trickster Tales is to cause us to question orthodox routes and not accept things blindly.

Trickster and Clown
Many Native American traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconceptions and fixed ideas. The Trickster is known for entertaining people as a clown does. Sometimes the acts of the Trickster are comic pranks. The Trickster has fun and delights in all sorts of tomfoolery, mischief and jokes.  These activities centre around bringing attention to our own or other people’s often hidden stupidity, shams or lies. He represents the unexpected aspects of life which upset careful plans for no apparent reason.

The clown has the ability to laugh at the ridiculousness aspects of life. The clown is wise because he can see through people and reveal hidden motives for their actions and expose their hypocrisy. The clown appears as a foolish creature who lacks clear thinking and intellectual values and revels in unorthodox, spontaneous actions. However, his erratic behaviour can lead to new ideas and beneficial changes in direction. With the help of his wits and cleverness, instead of fighting, the Trickster or Clown fools monsters and enemies with unorthodox acts. The Trickster breaks us out of old stereotypes and opens the world to new opportunities and possibilities. The tales of the Trickster clown teaches people to 'think outside the box".

Trickster and Shape Shifter
The Trickster is a shape shifter and so has the ability of transformation. The Trickster might appear in the guise of an  animal but they seldom have purely animal characteristics. They talk and interact with people and often transform or change between human and animal form. According to some legends that feature in Native American mythology are stories that at the beginning of time animals could change their appearance whenever they wished. As a shape shifter, or transformer, the trickster can alter his shape or bodily appearance in order to facilitate deception. The Trickster can be a creator and a destroyer. The Trickster shape shifter can change appearance, role or personality. This changeability makes the alliances and loyalty of the shape shifter uncertain, and his sincerity is often questionable.

Trickster and Hero
The trickster appears as a culture hero when his pranks and mischief, such as stealing fire, benefit humans. In many of these tales the Trickster always benefits and the benefits to humans are coincidental. The Trickster as a hero changes the world through invention or discovery, usually through unintentional, coincidental acts and motives. The Trickster becomes a hero by breaking the rules. His bending or breaking of rules takes the form of tricks or thievery.

American Indian Mythical Creature - A TricksterCoyote
Picture of a
Trickster Mythical Creature
Picture of a Coyote on whom the famous Trickster is based

Names of Tricksters
The names of Tricksters that feature in the legends and mythology of Native American Indian tribes are as detailed in the following chart:

Names of Tricksters

List of Names of Tricksters
Tribal AffiliationDescription and attributes

AbenakiA raccoon spirit

CreeA Bird like hero

Lakota SiouxA clown

CrowA race of tricksters

HaidaA raven spirit

Hopi and ZuniKokopelli is a famous trickster

InuitWolf Spirit

Lakota SiouxA shape shifter spider spirit

Various TribesA shape shifter and clown

Rain Cloud Clown

List of Names of Tricksters
Tribal AffiliationDescription and attributes

Names of Tricksters

The Trickster

  • Trickster creatures that feature in Native Indian Mythology
  • The Trickster, Culture and Mythology
  • Interesting facts and info about the  Trickster for kids and schools
  • American Indian Mythology, Myths and Legends - Tricksters
  • The Clown, the Shape Shifter, the culture hero

Trickster - Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Spirits, Beasts and Supernatural Creatures - the Trickster. Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History and Culture of Native Americans. The pictures show the clothing, War Paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - American Indian Mythology & the Trickster. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a great educational resource for kids.


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