Native American Indian Animal Spirits: Coyote

Published on November 13, 2012 by Casey

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Native American Indian Animal Spirits: Coyote

Name: Coyote (West Coast and Northwestern)

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Tribal affiliation: Alsea, Coos, Miwok, Bannock, Shoshone, Northern Paiute

Native names: Yelis, Yéilis, Yeilis, Ye’lis (Alsea); Ja’mul (Achumawi), Mo’luptsini’sla (Coos); Itsappa, Itsappe, Izabui, Isapaippi, Isapaippu, Isa’opaippeh, Itsappu, Isappu (Shoshone-Bannock-Paiute)

Type: Coyote spirit, trickster, transformer, Creator

Related figures in other tribes: Coyote (Southwest), Coyote (Plains), Chirich (Arikara)

On the West Coast, the Great Basin, and the northwest Plateau, Coyote tends to be a more serious mythological figure than he is further to the south. Though he still plays the role of the trickster in many northwestern stories, Coyote is also viewed as a respected benefactor of humans, responsible for such important deeds as bringing fire to the people, teaching them the arts of civilization, and helping to shape the world for their benefit. Among the Shoshone, Bannock, and Paiute tribes, Coyote is the younger brother of the respected creator god Esa (Wolf), and although he is an irresponsible and socially inappropriate character, he also assists his brother in his important tasks. In some California tribes Coyote is the creator of humanity or even the world, often in cooperation with other divine animal spirits. In the folklore of other California tribes Coyote acts as a more malevolent force of nature bringing danger and destruction to other characters.

Source: native-languages Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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