Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Quotation

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xx

This book represents the high point of my interest in and passion for the stories, myths, legends, songs, and cultures of the Native peoples of North America, an interest that blossomed a number of years ago when I came across old volumes published by such organizations as the Canadian Ethnology Service and the Bureau of American Ethnology. Here I found treasures I...

From Smoothing the Ground: Essays on Native American Oral Literature

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Stone Boy: Persistent Hero (Lakota)

Elaine Jahner

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pp. 3-24

Heroes, by their very definition, require somewhat more than the usual human force of character and they display it in wonderfully extravagant gestures. But if they are to have any real staying power through generations of human thought, their exploits must strike some sparks from the flints of home, hearth, and dear mundane routine. Among the Lakota Sioux people, ...

From On the Translation of Native American Literatures

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Oolachan-Woman’s Robe: Fish, Blankets, Masks, and Meaning in Boas’s Kwakw’ala Texts (Kwakw’ala/Kwakiutl)

Judith Berman

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pp. 27-72

On October 4, 1894, Franz Boas was told a lewd story and didn’t know it.1 The story was a nuyəm, or “myth,” that described how a being named Oolachan- Woman created a magical abundance of herring. Boas dutifully transcribed and translated the story, but he didn’t understand it. Though there are few actual mistakes, his misinterpretations are so extreme that in the...

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Narrative Styles in Dakota Texts (Lakota)

Julian Rice

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pp. 73-94

Lakota is the living language of thousands of Lakota (Teton Sioux) people now living on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Reservations in North and South Dakota. At community colleges on these reservations, and at several colleges and universities in the region, Lakota oral narratives are studied in the original language. The best collection...

From Coming to Light: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America

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The Boy Who Went to Live with the Seals (Yupik)

Ann Fienup-Riordan, Marie Meade

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pp. 97-112

The Yupik Eskimos of western Alaska are one of the least known and most traditional Native American groups. They differ in both language and way of life from the whale-hunting Iñupiat of northern Alaska and the relatively impoverished Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit to the east. Living along the river drainages and coast of the Bering Sea, they continue to speak the Central...

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The Girl Who Married the Bear (Tagish/Tlingit)

Catharine McClellan, Maria Johns, Dora Austin Wedge

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pp. 113-125

I first heard the wonderful story of “The Girl Who Married the Bear” in 1948 when, as a graduate student in anthropology, I was doing my initial fieldwork with Tagish Indians of Carcross in southern Yukon, Canada. Maria Johns, aged and blind, volunteered the tale as a going- away present for me, telling it in Tlingit, which was the language spoken by most Tagish in...

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John Sky’s “One They Gave Away” (Haida)

Robert Bringhurst

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pp. 126-150

A hundred miles off the northern coast of British Columbia lies a forested archipelago less than two hundred miles long, though its shoreline extends for something closer to four thousand miles. Maps and gazetteers persist in labeling these islands the Queen Charlottes, after the wife of George III of Great Britain. Most residents (and the local tribal government) now call...

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The Sun’s Myth (Cathlamet Chinook)

Dell Hymes

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pp. 151-162

Charles Cultee told “The Sun’s Myth” to Franz Boas in 1891.1 Cultee, indeed, is the source of all the texts we have from the two Chinookan languages that at the beginning of the twentieth century dominated the lower Columbia River. One of these, Shoalwater, was the variety spoken around the mouth of the river on the Washington side by the Chinook proper. Shoalwater and...

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Coyote, Master of Death, True to Life (Kalapuya)

Dell Hymes

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pp. 163-183

This myth, told by William Hartless in Mary’s River Kalapuya, begins with death and ends with life. It shows Coyote as the shape-changing chameleon familiar from many stories, but after showing foresight, devotion to a child, and mastery of the land of the dead. To experience tricks and transformations as a sequel to that makes them appear not the foibles of a scamp but a...

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Seal and Her Younger Brother Lived There (Clackamas Chinook)

Dell Hymes

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pp. 184-187

Victoria Howard dictated “Seal and Her Younger Brother Lived There” to Melville Jacobs in 1930, shortly before her death.1 It is recorded in the last notebook (number 17) of their collaboration, along with a number of other texts considered incomplete. Incomplete, in one sense, it is. In origin it is a scene of suspense from a story of revenge. A man has killed his wife; her...

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Poetry Songs of the Shoshone Ghost Dance (Wind River Shoshone)

Judith Vander

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pp. 188-203

The poems presented here are religious song texts that the Wind River Shoshones of Wyoming sang during Ghost Dance performances of the past. They are part of the Ghost Dance repertoire of 147 songs that I recorded in the late 1970s as they were performed by two Shoshone elders, Emily Hill and Dorothy Tappay.1 The women learned these songs at Ghost Dance performances...

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Running the Deer (Yaqui)

Larry Evers, Felipe S. Molina

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pp. 204-223

Yaqui Indian people call themselves Yoemem, “the People.” Their aboriginal homeland is just south of Guaymas, along the Rio Yaqui in southern Sonora, Mexico. About thirty thousand Yaquis continue to live there, on a rich alluvial plain where the Sonoran Desert meets the sea. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Mexican attempts to exterminate the...

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Pima Oriole Songs (Pima)

Donald Bahr, Vincent Joseph

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pp. 224-245

In northern Mexico and a great part of the western United States, including the Great Basin, southern California, and Arizona, there was a Native singing tradition that the musicologist George Herzog called the “dreamt mythic song series.”1 Now there is relatively little left of it, but as these Pima Oriole songs will show, the tradition can still surprise and reward us. In...

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Enemy Slayer’s Horse Song (Navajo)

David P. McAllester

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pp. 246-256

In 1957 I was privileged to record the songs of the Blessingway ceremony performed by Frank Mitchell at Chinle, Arizona. Among the hundreds of Navajo songs I have studied in this and other ceremonies, I chose this text for inclusion here because of the extensive flights of metaphor, unusual in Native American poetry. The ceremony is used to ensure blessing, good luck, ...

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Two Stories from the Yana (Yana)

Herbert W. Luthin

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pp. 257-276

The Yanas were a mountain people of northern California. Their homelands were the rugged slopes, steep valleys, and upland plateaus that rise northeastward from the banks of the Sacramento River to the volcanic peaks and ridges of the southern Cascades. Mount Lassen is the tallest peak in their old stretch of range, which ran from the Pit River south almost to the Feather...

From Voices from Four Directions: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America

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Raven Stories (Tlingit)

Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer

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pp. 279-293

Raven stories make up the comic genre in Tlingit oral literature, in contrast to the clan histories and legends, which might be compared to tragedy. Raven is a trickster figure, and in Tlingit tradition the trickster role merges with that of culture hero or demiurge. As the accompanying stories demonstrate, the Tlingit Raven cycle contains both elements, and this combination...

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He Became an Eagle (Western Apache)

M. Eleanor Nevins, Thomas J. Nevins

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pp. 294-315

“He Became an Eagle” is a story about desire, transformation, journeys between worlds, marriage, separation, and loss. It is set among the Western Apache people “in the old days,” when people lived in mobile village encampments across the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico. Apache marriage conventions required that husband and wife come from distantly...

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The Flight of Dzilyi neeyáni (Navajo)

Paul G. Zolbrod

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pp. 316-329

The accompanying passage comes from a project now underway— an attempt on my part to recast in a viable literary form Washington Matthews’s English rendering of the Navajo Mountain Chant narrative, originally published in 1887 in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. At first glance the effort would seem futile, for on one level it is impossible to...

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Red Swan (Menominee)

Monica Macaulay, Marianne Milligan

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pp. 330-348

Menominee is an Algonquian language still spoken by a small number of elders on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. This story was told to Leonard Bloomfield in the early 1920s by Nyahto Kichewano (Nayāēhtow in Menominee) and published in Bloomfield’s Menomini Texts.1 Unfortunately, Bloomfield does not tell us anything about the narrator, beyond making the...

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The Birth of Nenabozho (Ojibwe)

Rand Valentine

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pp. 349-378

The four stories in this section were told a century ago by Waasaagoneshkang, an Ojibwe man whose name, according to William Jones, the original transcriber and translator of the stories, means “He Who Leaves the Imprint of His Foot Shining in the Snow.”1 As with many authors of oral traditional literature, we know almost nothing about him. He is described very briefly...

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Umâyichîs (Naskapi)

Julie Brittain, Marguerite Mackenzie

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pp. 379-398

“Umâyichîs,” which translates loosely into English as “Little Shit Man,” belongs to the âtiyûhkin (traditional tales) genre of Algonquian oral literature. This version of “Umâyichîs” was narrated by the late John Peastitute, a Naskapi elder, in the summer of 1968 at the Naskapi community of John Lake, near Schefferville, northern Quebec. This community has since relocated...

From Algonquian Spirit: Contemporary Translations of the Algonquian Literatures of North America

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The Delaware Creation Story (Munsee)

John Bierhorst

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pp. 401-409

Under the heading “Work of Mr. Jeremiah Curtin”—referring to the philologist folklorist and former diplomat who had come on staff during the previous twelve-month cycle—the annual report of the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of Ethnology for the year 1883–84 states briefly, “On September 1, 1883, Mr. Jeremiah Curtin went to the Cattaraugus Reservation, New York, ...

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A Pair of Hero Stories (Eastern Cree)

Susan M. Preston

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pp. 410-425

These stories are two of many recorded by Richard J. Preston, my father, during the 1960s in Waskaganish (then Rupert House), Quebec. They were told by his Cree mentor, John Blackned, who was in his seventies at the time. John had heard the stories from his grandmother at the outset of the twentieth century, when his family—like most others—lived by subsistence...

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Winter Stories (Meskwaki/Fox)

Ives Goddard

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pp. 426-475

Presented here are translations of two Meskwaki winter stories, “The Ice Maidens” by Sakihtanohkweha and “Has-a-Rock” by Charley H. Chuck.1 Sakihtanohkweha and Chuck wrote these stories, in the Meskwaki language, for Truman Michelson of the Bureau of American Ethnology. The originals are in the collection of nearly twenty-seven thousand pages of Meskwaki...

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Pine Root (Plains Cree)

Stan Cuthand

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pp. 476-491

“Pine Root,” or “Wa ta pi wi yin,” is one of the myths my father used to tell us when we were children. My father was a Plains Cree storyteller and told us many stories in the winter months, which was the time to tell stories. I was born in 1918 on Little Pine’s Reserve in Saskatchewan. Growing up in the 1920s, I knew many elders who were storytellers. Some of these men...

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Ghost Dance Songs (Arapaho)

Jeffrey D. Anderson

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pp. 492-516

Between 1890 and 1893 James Mooney collected at least seventy-three Ghost Dance songs in his extensive fieldwork among both the Northern Arapahos of Wyoming and the Southern Arapahos of Oklahoma (1896, 653–54).1 At the same time, as both tribes became the leading cultural movers of the Ghost Dance from the Great Basin onto the Plains, many of their original, ...

From Salish Myths and Legends: One People’s Stories

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Star Husband: Two Brothers’ Versions of a Traditional Skokomish-Twana Story (Skokomish-Twana)

Frank Allen, Henry Allen, William W. Elmendorf, Steven M. Egesdal

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pp. 519-530

William Elmendorf gathered many Skokomish-Twana myths and folktales during fieldwork in 1939 and 1940. The stories were narrated in English by two brothers, Henry Allen and Frank Allen. Their father and their Native cultural background were Skokomish,1 although their mother was Klallam. Elmendorf reports that the Allen brothers’ personalities differed greatly....

Source Acknowledgments

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pp. 531-532

Contributors

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pp. 533-537

Other Works in the Series

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