The Trickster

By (author): Hugh Dempsey
Illustrated by: Alyssa Koski
Foreword by: Pauline Dempsey
ISBN 9781772032178
Softcover | Publication Date: April 16, 2018
Book Dimensions: 6 in x 9 in
144 Pages

About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

Hugh A. Dempsey (1929–2022) was a Canadian author, historian, and researcher. He was the associate director of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, as well as the chief curator emeritus. He was the editor of the quarterly Alberta History. Dempsey was made an honorary chief of the Kainai Blackfoot in 1967,  invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1975, and received an honorary degree from the University of Lethbridge in 2019. He wrote more than twenty books, including The Great Blackfoot Treaties, Maskepetoon, Firewater, and Crowfoot. Hugh Dempsey passed away on May 24, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta.


"By gathering together a sizeable collection of stories passed down through oral tradition, Dempsey and Koski offer insight into a venerable and still-thriving culture, as well as a piece of history to be kept and passed on to younger generations for years to come." —Sierra Bilton, Vue Weekly