Folktales | Characters
The name of the Mink in the Kwakiutl language means "Made-Like-The-Sun". Mink thought his father was the Sun. To understand these stories, you must remember that the Pacific Northwest coastal peoples had a cosmology with a water world (where the Salmon and Blackfish (orca whales) and Devilfish (octopi) assumed human form and had their lodges); and a sky world above the clouds where the Sun and Moon dwelled also in human form in their lodges. The Sun wore a great shining mask and carried his torch across the sky every day.
This tale concerns the Mink, with his wonderful shiny fur cloak and vain spirit and "musky" aroma. Ironically the Mink whose pelt is worn by so many as a symbol of status and pride, took a great fall because of his boasting pride. Mink, a trickster like Raven is always a "rake" - dashing and handsome, but also lusty, dissolute and lewd.
In one of his stories he goes through a succession of wives that displeased him: Kelp, Frog, Boulder, Cloud, finally finding happiness with Lizard. Another Coast Salish story had Mink tricked by Devilfish (octopus) and held captive at the bottom of the river until he told her his Father the Sun would dry up all the devilfish unless he was released.
In another of his stories, Mink tried to vault the Milky Way (a river of stars) without the walking stick given him by the Sun - "Mink, you are so "smart", you will figure out how to use it." - which he carelessly threw away. This tale is one of the Star Child tales, most of whom were lost. Missionaries found the Star Child legends a point of contact in sharing the story of Christ coming to Earth.
Another Kwakiutl Legend deals with a child trying unsuccessfully to become the man. Both deal with a boy, ill of ease with his situation, coping with it by trickery and bloated pride, however, it is easier to sympathize with the Mink in the Kwakiutl version.
Created by Sushma Gupta on November 27, 2013
Modified on 08/26/14