An enthralling collection of traditional Blackfoot stories revealing the frailty of mankind and the enduring power of narrative.
Napi, the Old Man of the Blackfoot Nation, appears prominently in mythology, sometimes as a quasi-Creator, sometimes a fool, and sometimes a brutal murderer. Although Napi is given credit for creating many of the objects and creatures on Earth, and indeed the Earth itself, the Blackfoot do not consider him to be god-like. Napi stories tell of this mythical figure creating the world and everything in it, but getting into trouble when he starts tinkering with his own creation. Perhaps for this reason, anthropologists have labelled him a trickster/creator.
For thousands of years, people have gathered around the campfire and listened to stories of how Napi blundered and schemed his way through Blackfoot country. They laugh at how Napi was outwitted by a lame fox, how he tried to fly with the geese only to look down when he was told not to and fell to the earth. He makes a perfect subject for telling, listening, and enjoying—and for teaching.
Reproduced by permission of Blackfoot Elders, these stories offer complex insight into an ancient and still-thriving culture through the figure of a flawed yet powerful creature—a mirror of humankind itself.
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About the Author
Hugh A. Dempsey is an author, historian, and researcher. He is the former associate director of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and is currently its chief curator emeritus. He is also the editor of the quarterly Alberta History. Dempsey was made an honorary chief of the Kainai Blackfoot in 1967 and in 1975 was invested as a member of the Order of Canada. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Great Blackfoot Treaties, Maskepetoon, Firewater, and Crowfoot.
Alyssa Koski is an illustrator and member of the Kainai Nation. She holds a BA in Visual Communications from the Alberta College of Art and Design. Koski is the recipient of the Janet Mitchell Award and the Harley Brown Artistic Endowment and the winner of the 2017 Applied Arts Magazine design award.