The Role of A Trickster And It's Use In The Rez Sisters.
The trickster figure in native mythology has many different roles and characteristics, which Tomson Highway demonstrates in his play The Rez Sisters. Being so ambiguous, the trickster is made up of various qualities, which are often contradicting. One of Nanabush's roles Highway uses in the play is preparing Marie-Adele for death. Nanabush, being a trickster, makes fun of the women and plays tricks on them. Highway also uses Nanabush to mimic the audience's feelings when Zhaboonigan describes her rape. Nanabush is used to carry out several tasks in both Native Mythology and in Highway's play.
Native Mythology centers on a spiritual figure known as the "trickster". This figure is known as Nanabush in Ojibway, Weesageechjak in Cree and Coyote in English. A literary study on American passages declares that, "Trickster figures in native mythology are characterized by paradox, duality, cleverness, shape-shifting duplicity and a knack for survival" (Annenberg). The trickster is completely ambiguous but completely fun loving as well. Tomson Highway describes Nanabush as being able to "assume any guise he chooses. Essentially a comic, clownish sort of character, he teaches us about the nature and the meaning of existence on the planet Earth; he straddles the consciousness of man and that of God the Great Spirit" (Rez, XII). According to Sheila Rabillard because of the lack of gender in native culture the Trickster is "a figure who combines masculine and feminine" (Rabillard, 14). .
Highway explains in his play Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, that the trickster is as pivotal and important a figure in our world as Christ is in the realm of Christian mythology" (Dry Lips, 12). Highway also states that Nanabush's tricks don't always go as planned, and "it's only inadvertently, through some other visceral, emotional, irrational part of him/her, that a way is found out of the situation only to teach us, in the end, a telling lesson about life.