Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
Tricksters in Native American thought often include the gambler and skinwalker. Traditionally, the character of the gambler appears in order to test a person, who must play and win a life and death game so that the individual (specifically) and the tribe (generally) will survive. And, according to anthropologist Larry Sunderland, a Navajo skinwalker ostensibly inserts a bone into a victim's body without breaking the skin. This action often results in mental and/or physical injury, illness, and death. The bone can only be removed ceremoniously by a shaman (hitaaIi); both the gambler and skinwalker are shapeshifters. During the Morning Star Ceremony, which is demonstrated in Bone Game and was ended by Metalsharo (Pawnee) in 1813, a maiden's body would be painted half black and half white, staked to the ground, and shot full of arrows in a Dionysian ceremony. Owens delicately intertwines these three ceremonies and figures in a story filled with action, mystery, and surprises.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1995