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Intimations of Unity


It is a truism that certain mythological themes occur and reoccur and certain mythological episodes are endlessly repeated and variously combined, disguised at times almost beyond recognition as they are filtered through widely disparate cultures and adapted to widely differing environments. Apparently behind every god, demigod, or hero stands an archetypal figure, seen "through a glass darkly" but nonetheless present and indestructible.

This is especially true of the mythologies of Native Americans. I have neither the requisite scholarship nor time to undertake an in-depth study of so vast a subject—indeed, it is a subject which will engage armies of scholars for generations to come. However, I am familiar with Chemehuevi mythology. I shall therefore venture to point out a few of the correspondences between the Mythic Coyote (or Wolf and Coyote) Cycle of the Chemehuevi and the Trickster and Hare Cycles of the Winnebago, as related by Radin (1956). These parallels would be interesting enough if found within the same culture area or the same linguistic stock; they are extraordinarily challenging when they occur in the sacred narratives of tribes separated by roughly two-thirds of a continent and speaking unrelated languages.

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