Coyote (Mánikasìgenįka)

by Richard L. Dieterle

In many ways, Coyote is the unproductive counterpart to Trickster. Although Coyote is one of the bad spirits, his weakness makes him of no consequence. His weakness stems from his moral insensibility. Much of this is expressed in his sneakiness. Once Trickster admired the way Coyote skulked along and wished he could imitate him, but in the end Trickster thought that degree of sneakiness was beyond even his powers.1


Coyote married a Giantess and played for the Giants against the great spirits in lacrosse. There he was checked by his great alter ego, Wolf.2

Coyote would often abuse people. He blinded the grandfather of Wojijé by throwing hot coals in his eyes. Wojijé punished him by hanging him like a pot over the fire.3 Coyote got many of his attributes as a consequence of being punished for abusing humans. When Coyote harassed Wojijé's younger brother, the Meteor Spirits dragged him to the latrine and urinated on him. The scalding stream made Coyote's coat mangy, as it has been ever after. They also cursed him to be ever in want of food and to be reduced to eating human garbage.4

Links: Giants, Wolf & Dog Spirits, The Meteor Spirit, Little Fox, Minks, Rock Spirits.

Stories: mentioning coyotes: Wojijé, The Raccoon Coat, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Redhorn's Sons, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Trickster and the Eagle.


1 Waukon G. Smith (Thunderbird Clan), Wakjąkaga the Eagle, in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 33-34.

2 Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 123-129.

3 Paul Radin, "Coon Skin Fur Coat," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #53: 1-122.

4 Paul Radin, "Wodjidjé," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #62: 1-50.