This article acknowledges that folklore studies has sometimes overlooked the imperatives of relational communities with the publication of tale collections. By privileging stories as texts and objectifying literacy as a stage of human development, some authors of tale collections have followed long-standing societal norms and ignored the primary imperative of maintaining relations to remain a community. Analyzing the introductions to Tales of the North American Indians (Thompson 1929) and four other collections of American Indian stories published between 1892 and 1929, I show how authors associated literacy, lands, stories, and people to confirm or disrupt assumptions of American Indians as pre-literate, primitive, vanishing, or ongoing peoples. With greater awareness of evolutionary assumptions and relational perspectives at play in a crucial disciplinary genre, folklorists may produce and receive tale collections in ways that better evaluate how stories relate storytellers with lands and communities.


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pp. 3-30
Launched on MUSE
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