Trickster on NPR

Eileen Kane was featured on NPR's To the Best of Our Knowledge. Click here for the full programme.

Click here to listen to the Eileen Kane segment.

You are here


Many of the Paiute people in Trickster: an anthropological memoir, are composites, amalgams of people on the two Yerington Paiute reservations in 1964.

Even the actual models for most of the Paiute composite characters are gone now-great characters, many of whom contributed stories and memories in Numu Yah Dua', the Paiute newspapers of the early 1980s. (See to order). They can also be found in Michael Hittman's 1984 book, The Yerington Paiute Tribe: A Numu history, which is available from the same address.


But some of the people were (are) real: Corbett Mack, for example, whose life story was recorded by Michael Hittman in Corbett Mack: The Life of a Northern Paiute, University of Nebraska Press, 1996.  Corbett died in 1974 at the age of eighty-two, and his life reflected most of the experiences of a Paiute man of his time-education at Stewart Indian school; mixed blood,; back-breaking ranch work and poverty; a relish for folktales of Coyote, Wolf, cannibals, water babies and the panoply of other glorious characters who lived side-by-side with the Paiutes; opium addiction; a mischievous sense of humor, and a scholarly care with information. 

"Little Earl", whose real name is Karl Fredericks, is now a tribal chief of police in Lovelock, Nevada. His work with Michael Hittman as a reporter/interviewer for the Numu Yah Dua' newspapers was a major contribution to reconstructing the history of the Paiute people, His picture as a little boy in a Sioux headdress appears on the back cover of Trickster: "Look at me, Eileen, I'm an Indian!" he'd said in 1964.

The tribal historian Marlin Thompson was a young boy when I was doing my fieldwork. I didn't know him then; obviously he was younger and not as annoying as Eddie or as outrageous as Thomasina-otherwise, I would have noticed him and he'd have been riding around with me, as the others did, in the police car (the one the university gave me in which to do my fieldwork).  I knew his mother, Thelma, who lived near Jennie, my friend in Trickster. Another of Marlin's family connections, Irene Thompson, contributed many memories to the Paiute newspaper, Numu Yah Dua', and her memories of Jack Wilson, Wovoka, the "Indian Messiah" are recorded in Hittman's Wovoka and the Ghost Dance, Yerington Paiute Tribe, 1990.