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Ikto'mi the Trickster

Ikto'mi (Ik-to-mi) comes to us from the Plains, Southwestern and Western Native American groups. Ikto'mi has spider-like characteristics and features.

From Lakota legend, Ikto'mi is the firstborn son of Inyan - the Rock - who was originally named Ksa.

Native American culture recognized Iktomi as both a spider and a spider-like man.He was born full grown from an egg and was the size of an ordinary human. He has a big round body like a spider, with slender arms and legs and powerful hands and feet. He dresses in clothes made of buckskin and raccoon.

The Lakota believe that Ikto'mi is a trickster and does things backwards. His clownish ways cause the people to laugh at him, but he is also a sly and cunning man and a teacher.

Native American - American Indian - culture boasts many stories about Ikto'mi the Trickster.

The Lakota almost always have Coyote in their stories as well. In most stories, Ikto'mi comes out on top because he is so wise, cunning and sly. Because of these characteristics, sometimes he outsmarts himself and the Coyote comes out on top.

Ikto'mi has two meanings in the Lakota culture ...

  • one is spider
  • the other is a spider-like man

As a spider-like man, Ikto'mi the trickster possesses mysterious, supernatural powers - both good and bad. He might predict something, and if he senses that the people have doubts about his prediction, he makes it come true.

Zitkala-a, Old Indian Legends, University of Nebraska Press, Oklahoma, 1985.

Encylopedia Mythica


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