Trickster Tales of Southeastern Native Americans

Stories from the Creek, Natchez, Seminole, Catawba, Cherokee and Other Nations


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About the Book

An agent of chaos and deceit, the trickster has been a favorite character spanning thousands of years and multiple peoples. From legends belonging to Native Americans such as the Creek, Natchez, Seminole and Catawba, to tales borrowed from Africa and Europe, this work discusses 73 trickster tales.
Beginning with Creek tales, this work continues with a blend of Native American and African American folktales, organized according to the indigenous people who told them. These stories include the American Southeast’s most notorious trickster, Rabbit; his gullible victims such as Alligator, Wildcat and Wolf; and other tricksters such as Buzzard, Pig, Possum and more.

About the Author(s)

Terry L. Norton is a professor emeritus of education at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he taught courses in literacy education and children’s and adolescent literature. He lives in Rock Hill.

Bibliographic Details

Terry L. Norton
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 202
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9130-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4939-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Purpose 1
Origins and Organization of the Selections 2
Issues of Authentication and Sovereignty 3
Additional Information 5
Acknowledgments 5
Introduction to the Trickster 7
A Ubiquitous Character 7
Key Attributes 8
Gender Issues 16
Conclusion 20
Creek Tales 23
The Way of Rabbit 23
Why Rabbit Steals 24
The People Discover Rabbit’s Ways 24
Rabbit Gets Lion Across the Ocean 25
Rabbit Plays Scratch with Wildcat 27
Rabbit Challenges Two ­Tie-Snakes 27
Rabbit and the Buffaloes’ ­Tug-o-War 28
Rabbit Fools Alligator 29
Terrapin Fools Rabbit 31
Raccoon, Panther, and the Deer 32
Rabbit and the Woman’s Only Son 33
Rabbit and Wolf 35
How Rabbit Married the Widow’s Daughter 38
Rabbit Tricks Coyote 40
Rabbit Deceives the Other Animals 40
Rabbit Escapes from the Box 42
How Rabbit Won a Second Wife 44
The Boy Who Outwitted the Buffaloes 45
The Boy and the Lion 46
Hitchiti Tales 50
The Wolves Try to Trick the Dogs 50
Rabbit Does the Old Man’s Bidding 51
Rabbit, Wolf, and Buzzard 53
Rabbit, Wildcat, the Big Tree, and the Nuts 54
Rabbit, Wildcat, and the Buffalo 56
Bear, Rabbit, and Buzzard (or, The Bungling Host) 56
Rabbit and the Medicine 58
Rabbit and the Vegetable Garden 59
Rabbit’s False Talk 60
Rabbit and the Old Man’s Daughters 61
Alabama Tales 63
Big ­Man-Eater’s Wife Gets Fed Up 63
Rabbit Kills Big ­Man-Eater 64
Rabbit Frees the Sun 65
An Orphan Outdoes Rabbit 66
Skunk Deceives the Wolves 69
Koasati/Coushatta Tales 71
Rabbit Provides Fire 71
Rabbit and Big ­Man-Eater Trade Shoes 72
Rabbit, Big ­Man-Eater, and the River 74
Rabbit Plays Pranks on Elephant 75
Rabbit’s Grandmother Punishes Buzzard 76
Rabbit, the Turkeys, and Spunk Soup 77
Possum and Panther Become Partners 78
Natchez Tales 79
Perch Fools Owl 79
Wolf and Rabbit Cannot Get Along 79
Rabbit Kills Alligator 82
The Young Hunter’s Adventures 83
Why Possum Hangs by His Tail 91
Fox and Crawfish Have a Race 92
Turkey Tricks Wildcat 92
The Fawn, the Wolves, the Skunk, and the Terrapin 93
Seminole Tales 97
Rabbit Brings Back Fire 97
Rabbit Wants a Wife 97
The Thunder Boys Deceive and Kill an Old Woman 99
Catawba Tales 102
Rabbit Steals Fire from Buzzard 102
The Woman Who Stole a Boy and Became a Comet 102
How Possum Tricked Deer and Wolf 104
Pig and Wolf 106
How Fox Took Turtle’s Water 107
How Rooster Tricked Fox 108
The Cherokee Hunter Outwitted 108
Cherokee Tales 110
How Turkey Took Terrapin’s Scalp 110
Terrapin Outwits the Wolves 111
How Partridge Got His Whistle 112
Rabbit Steals Otter’s Coat 113
Why Possum’s Tail Has No Hair 115
Rabbit Hunts Ducks 116
Rabbit and Possum Try to Get a Wife 117
Rabbit Escapes from Wolves 118
Rabbit and Tar Wolf 119
Rabbit Escapes from Wildcat 120
How Rabbit Got a Split Lip 122
Deer Gets Horns 123
Why Deer Has Blunt Teeth 124
What Happened to Rabbit 125
Appendix A: Story Adaptations and Authentication of Sources 127
Appendix B: Sovereignty and Appropriation 143
Appendix C: Social Climate and Swanton’s Use of Latin 145
Appendix D: Historical Sketches of Southeastern Native Groups and Commentary on Selected Variants 153
Notes 177
Bibliography 185
Index 191

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Norton has produced a collection of trickster tales from Indigenous cultures in the Southeastern U.S., including Creek, Natchez, Cherokee, and Catawba; chapters are arranged by cultural origin. An interesting feature is the interweaving of stories between Indigenous and African American traditions, as both traditions employ trickster rabbits…. The author also provides historical sketches of the Indigenous nations included in the book and discusses various perspectives on the retelling of their stories by non-Indigenous people…. This fine collection of Indigenous stories from Southeastern U.S. tribes adds a cultural depth to folklore collections, fitting for both scholarly anthropology as well as for use in classrooms.”—Library Journal