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Native American Legends of the Southeast

Tales from the Natchez, Caddo, Biloxi, Chickasaw, and Other Nations

George E. Lankford

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 7-8

List of Texts

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pp. 9-13

List of Figures

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pp. 14-15

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pp. 15-16

In the course of producing a volume such as this, an author incurs a great many debts to scholars and friends who share their knowledge and give aid and support to the project. Among the many who have given me such support are • the Folklore Institute at Indiana University, where my interest in • Arkansas College, which granted me a semester's leave in which much ...

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pp. 17-28

Upon rereading this book after two decades, I am pleased with what I choose to see as prescient insights into the nature of the texts and the societies that gave them birth. I have realized, sometimes with surprise, that I have personally explored in greater depth many of the same topics I raised in this volume and in the earlier dissertation in which I first pondered them (1975). The approach ...

Setting the Stage

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1. Preliminary Reflections

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pp. 30-35

In most parts of North America, open conflict between the Native Americans and the European-Americans has ended. The clash of cultures began soon after Europeans set foot ashore. It has continued for four centuries in forms as diverse as frontier atrocities and congressional debate. Over the conflict between invaders and beleaguered, there hangs a pall of tragic ...

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2. The Native American Southeast

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pp. 36-52

When the Spaniards under Hernando DeSoto toured the Southeast from 1539 to 1542, their late medieval European eyes saw' 'provinces," monarchs, and nobility. What they were really confronting was an extraordinarily complicated international system of chiefdoms, each with its own characteristic peculiarities and sets of relationships to each other. The various chiefdoms ...

The Ways of the World

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3. The Above World

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pp. 54-82

For human beings, survival demands an awareness of the way the world works. No matter how we look at the world around us, it is endlessly complex. In order to reduce that complexity , every human society posits a relatively small number of principles that seem to explain and predict the dynamic forces of the non-human natural order. This lore is crystallized into patterns called belief ...

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4. The Under World

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pp. 83-105

In opposition to the Above World is the Under World, which consists of water. Like the Western mythological tradition, but unlike the Western philosophical tradition, which wants to know the source of the water, the Southeastern view simply assumes its existence. Some western North Ameri can traditions affmn creation in a different way, but the Eastern Woodlands ...

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5. The Middle World

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pp. 106-117

Humans are poised between the Above World and the Under World, but the "Middle World" they inhabit seems to have been considered a younger, and When Speck was doing fieldwork among the Yuchi in 1904 and 1905, he visited the neighboring talwa of Taskigi, from whom several texts were "incidentally obtained."1 Among them was one of the few examples of a ...

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6. The Tribes of People

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pp. 118-142

One of the cultural differences that strikes the European mind when it confronts Native American legends is the attitude toward other species. Whereas Europeans tend to consider other animals and plants as subordinate creatures, Native Americans see them as people with minds and wills, who must be dealt with in the same ways as humans. Other species are structured in ...

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7. The Plant World

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pp. 143-158

It is not enough to account for the various kinds of people in the world, for the animals and birds are not the only ones who have an impact on human life. Plants are of great importance, because many carry medicine power, and a few In the Native American world one of the latter was tobacco. Although it has been used recreationally in recent years, it was for many centuries in North ...


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8. The Twins

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pp. 160-175

As we have seen, while the Creeks and the Cherokee possessed the same legend of the origin of maize, they placed those accounts in quite different contexts. The Creeks have made it part of the "Orphan" legend, which will be discussed in the next chapter. The Cherokee, however, have it as part of a "Twins" story. We have already looked at that text in the last chapter, and its ...

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9. The Wonderful Garments

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pp. 176-189

We have seen that the Creeks and Cherokee share a legend of the origin of maize, the myth of the woman from whose body springs the wonderful plant. In Cherokee lore it occurs in the context of a Twins myth which seems to be ancient. The Creeks, however, tell the maize leg~nd in connection with a single One time some people were living in a certain place, and they noticed that ...

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10. The Bead-Spitter/Marooned Hero

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pp. 190-208

In the Southeast was told an unusual legend. Called "Bead-spitter" from its opening motif, it is represented only among the Alabama, Koasati, and Bead-spiner (Konapkeso'tka) lived in a certain place. Two young women heard the name and, thinking that it must belong to some person, started out to find him. They traveled an entire day and when it was getting dark met Rabbit. I ...

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11. Other Adventures

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pp. 209-221

One of the persistent themes we have seen is the search for knowledge and power. Heroes ventured into the Under World to receive power and gifts from the water powers, they climbed into the Above World of the thunderbirds, and they took sides in the eternal battle between the two forces. They also went to the highest level of the Above World to investigate the ultimate. The legend of ...

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12. Tricksters

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pp. 222-242

For the Euro-American, the trickster tale is probably the most confusing kind of oral literature to comprehend. It is a universal genre, with the exception of Europe and Euro-America, but there are indications that it used to exist there too up until a few centuries ago. The Greek Hermes and the medieval fool, the popular stories of Jesus and Peter in the Middle Ages-all have ...

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pp. 243-244

If you set out. to read the legend texts, your venture is ended. The texts given in this volume are by no means all that exist, but they are intended to be a representative sample. If you wish to read more, ample bibliographic notes For those who have grown interested in the constant theme of geographic distribution that has run through this volume, it is time to draw the threads ...


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pp. 245-257


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pp. 258-265

E-ISBN-13: 9780817385903
E-ISBN-10: 0817385908
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356897
Print-ISBN-10: 0817356894

Page Count: 265
Illustrations: 11 illustrations
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 5th ed.