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an anonymous, traditional story that explains a natural phenomenon, an aspect of human behavior, or a mystery of the universe
tell how the world and human beings came to exist
- how natural phenomena (stars, moon, mountains) came to be
- why society has certain customs
- a symbol, story pattern, or character type that is found in the literature of many cultures
- Ex: children with opposite qualities born from the same parent (good and evil)
- character, frequently an animal (coyote, raven, mink) that speaks and explains other human traits, has 2 sides to its personality
- defy authority and cause trouble, but are clever and creative who give unexpected wisdom
- Ex: Coyote brought dath because he realized the world would be too crowded if people livved forever
animals and natural objects from which certain clans descended. These clans are responsible for the myths of the animal/object, while it served as their spiritual guide.