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Mike Rugnetta continues to teach you about Tricksters in myth, and this time we're headed to the Americas. Coyote and Raven appear in stories from many Native American groups, and more often than not, they're tricky. They're also often kind of, well, nasty. Not to get too judgy. But we do a lot of talking about poop in this episode. I'm just saying. We also talk about Tricksters as creators, as Coyote creates constellations, and Raven creates some rivers.

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Hi, I'm Mike Rugnetta. This is Crash Course Mythology, and today, we're finishing up our series on trickster stories by looking at two of the most famous and popular of them all, Coyote and Raven.

There are many individual Native American mythological traditions from different tribes and in different regions, and stories about coyotes and ravens as grand tricksters pop up in tales across the whole continent. In many locations, these animals would have been known for making off with livestock or picking at the bodies of dead animals.

While scavenging isn't exactly clever in the way tricksters often are, it is sort of devious which explains the wealth of trickster myths about these two figures. We're gonna focus a few of the best of them. And along the way, we'll see that sometimes playing a few tricks can really put a twinkle in your eye. Or make it pink.

[Intro Music]

Before I get into the specific myths, I should explain something about the content and context of some of these Coyote and Raven stories. We've already mentioned in many Native American myths the line between the human world and animal world is blurry.

Humans live alongside mythological animals that help create the world and establish important rituals. This handling of mythological animals is distinct from say the pantheon of gods and monsters that we see in Norse, Greek, or Egyptian traditions. Those traditions have myths about animals; it's true, but they aren't the stars of the show in the way that they are in Native American myths.

I also just wanna say upfront that the myths we're gonna discuss aren't exactly...umm...G rated. Some scholars have pointed out that many Native American myths feature particularly frank discussions of sexy time and the organs that are used to accomplish it. 

Thoth, buddy, there's no need to blush.

And, also, they talk a lot about the elimination of bodily waste. So long story short, we're gonna talk about poop. One

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day, Coyote is out walking and he sees some tasty-looking, bright red rose hips(?~3:53). He's about to gobble them up when those rose hips(?~3:53), which can talk btw, warn Coyote that if gobbled that they're gonna give him horrible flatulence. But, Coyote doesn't listen so chopped!

And wouldn't you know it, soon Coyote is stumbling around doubled over in pain from a rather intense and alarming build-up of gas. And about this time, Coyote happens across two crows picking over a dead buffalo. Devising a plan, Coyote asks if they wanna play a game. Which, I mean, of course, they do. Who doesn't love a game? 

Coyote propses a contest to see who can defecate from one side of the buffalo to the other. Whoever is able to launch their poop over the buffalo gets to keep it and eat it. The buffalo, I mean, not the poop. Not sure who gets that. Anyway.

The crows think that this is disgusting and hey samesies. But Coyote is very persuasive, and the contest begins.

One of the crows goes first. He turns around, and he poops as hard as he can. But only manages to poopshoot halfway. Coyote, now fit to burst with rose hip's(?~3:11) gas, turns around relaxes, and let's just say he wins the contest easily. The crows cannot believe their eyes, and they beg Coyote to let them have some of the buffalo meat. 

In an uncharacteristic bit of trickster compassion, Coyote is no Anansi, he agrees to give them the fat around the eye sockets and the joints and the ribs...hmm...Stan maybe cancel my lunch order. Okay according to Leonard and McClure the moral of the story is:

"Some are not honest in playing games, and trick others. One must watch out for these people, for they start trouble."

I might say the moral is also don't eat rose hips(?~3:53), don't poop competitively, but maybe even with gastrointestinal crisis there could be found great

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oppurtunity? At least if you have your tricky cap on. 

Aww Thoth. Is that your tricky cap? Looks good.

This story also shows an important similarity Coyote shares with the tricksters of other mythological traditions. He is unable to resist giving into his outsized hedonistic desires. Remember hungry Hermes and greedy Anansi? The entire poop shot put is a result of Coyote munching down on tasty looking rose hips(?~4:24) even though he knows it's a bad idea.

Not all of Coyote's desires are quite so digestion oriented of course. There are a number of stories that involve his sexual appetites. And in many Native American stories, the tricksters desire for sex is interpreted as a mirror for the rest of humanity. A recognition that most of us have similar drives as our old friends Leonard and McClure put it:

"...The Native American's tricker reminds us like no other that humans, for all their pretensions to intellectual and spiritual culture and all their moments of bravery, altruism, and generosity, are nevertheless animals ruled by appetites and impulses that make them equally capable of cowardice, selfishness, and cruelty."

We're not going to focus on those sexy stories though. This is a family friendly YouTube series...well except for all the death...and the incest...oh and the castration. Okay, you know what? Let's just move on.

Coyote, like other tricksters, is creative and on occasion even helpful. In one story from the Wasco people of the Pacific Northwest, Coyote even helps place stars in the sky. Let's go to the Thought Bubble.

One day, Coyote sees several of his wolf buddies looking up at the sky, so he asks what they're looking at. "Nothing," they tell him. The next night, he sees them looking up at the sky again and asks again. Finally, the youngest wolf says, "Ahh, let's tell him. He won't do anything." Which, I mean, have they not met Coyote?

The wolves tell him they're watching two mysterious animals up in the sky. Ever curious, Coyote suggests, "Let's go hang out with them." Coyote starts

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