InThe Trickster, Muriel Gray uses the structure of the supernatural horror story to probe issues regarding Native North American identity in the twentieth century. The experiences of the novel’s protagonist, Sam Hunt, crystallize the problems of Native North Americans living in white society and general concerns about the ramifications of cultural assimilation.
The trickster, a creature mentioned in many tribal mythologies, is notorious for adopting disguises in order to deceive its victims. Although legends of the trickster often portray it as mischievous, Gray presents it as a malevolent meddler in conflicts of interest between Native North Americans and white society. The novel opens with the accidental liberation of the trickster from Wolf Mountain, a stronghold in the Alberta province of Canada where it has been imprisoned for nearly a century. In the guises of a number of different people, the creature embarks upon a rampage of gruesome murders, all of which coincide with blackouts experienced by Sam Hunt, a member of the Kinchuinick tribe whose ambivalence toward his tribal heritage is mirrored in the trickster’s shifting identities.
To all outward appearances, Sam is an easygoing man who is content with his job as a grounds groomer for the Silver Ski Company and his role as husband and the father of two children. Sam, however, is still struggling to deny his family’s history, which encapsulates the plight of Native North...
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