University of Nebraska Press

Native Literatures of the Americas

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Native Literatures of the Americas

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Algonquian Spirit

Contemporary Translations of the Algonquian Literatures of North America

Brian Swann

When Europeans first arrived on this continent, Algonquian languages were spoken from the northeastern seaboard through the Great Lakes region, across much of Canada, and even in scattered communities of the American West. The rich and varied oral tradition of this Native language family, one of the farthest-flung in North America, comes brilliantly to life in this remarkably broad sampling of Algonquian songs and stories from across the centuries. Ranging from the speech of an early unknown Algonquian to the famous Walam Olum hoax, from retranslations of “classic” stories to texts appearing here for the first time, these are tales written or told by Native storytellers, today as in the past, as well as oratory, oral history, and songs sung to this day.
 
An essential introduction and captivating guide to Native literary traditions still thriving in many parts of North America, Algonquian Spirit contains vital background information and new translations of songs and stories reaching back to the seventeenth century. Drawing from Arapaho, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Cree, Delaware, Maliseet, Menominee, Meskwaki, Miami-Illinois, Mi'kmaq, Naskapi, Ojibwe, Passamaquoddy, Potawatomi, and Shawnee, the collection gathers a host of respected and talented singers, storytellers, historians, anthropologists, linguists, and tribal educators, both Native and non-Native, from the United States and Canada—all working together to orchestrate a single, complex performance of the Algonquian languages.

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Born in the Blood

On Native American Translation

Edited and with an introduction by Brian Swann

Since Europeans first encountered Native Americans, problems relating to language and text translation have been an issue. Translators needed to create the tools for translation, such as dictionaries, still a difficult undertaking today. Although the fact that many Native languages do not share even the same structures or classes of words as European languages has always made translation difficult, translating cultural values and perceptions into the idiom of another culture renders the process even more difficult. In Born in the Blood, noted translator and writer Brian Swann gathers some of the foremost scholars in the field of Native American translation to address the many and varied problems and concerns surrounding the process of translating Native American languages and texts. The essays in this collection address such important questions as, what should be translated? how should it be translated? who should do translation? and even, should the translation of Native literature be done at all? This volume also includes translations of songs and stories.

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Inside Dazzling Mountains

Southwest Native Verbal Arts

David L. Kozak

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A Listening Wind

Native Literature from the Southeast

Marcia Haag

A Listening Wind, a collection of translated original texts and commentary edited by Marcia Haag, highlights the large array of Indigenous linguistic and cultural groups of the U.S. Southeast. A whole range of genres and selected texts represent language groups of the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Yuchi, Cherokee, Koasati, Houma, Catawba, and Atakapa.
 
The traditional and modern Native literature genres showcased in A Listening Wind include stories that speakers perceive to be in the past (or “fixed”), genres that have developed alongside these stories, and modern story types that have sometimes supplanted traditional tales and are now enjoying trajectories of their own. These texts have been selected to demonstrate particular literary themes and the cultural perspectives that inform them. Introductory essays illuminate how they fit into Native American religious and philosophical systems. Overall this collection discloses the sometimes hidden connections among genres as well as their importance to language groups of the Southeast.

 

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Pitch Woman and Other Stories

The Oral Traditions of Coquelle Thompson, Upper Coquille Athabaskan Indian

William R. Seaburg

The rich oral traditions of the Athabaskan Indians from southwestern Oregon are showcased in these pages for the first time. This volume features vivid and humorous tales of familiar Tricksters: Coyote, known for his unusual sexual prowess and escapades that often go awry; the vain and gullible Grizzly Bear; and Raccoon, often greedy and ever elusive. The collection also includes the less familiar but all-too-human stories of Pitch Woman, Little Man, the unicorn-like Hollering-Like-a-Person, and other local figures, all of which add to the wealth of Native oral literature in the Pacific Northwest.
 
In 1935 Elizabeth D. Jacobs conducted ethnographic fieldwork with survivors of several Athabaskan cultures living on the Siletz Reservation. Her work preserves the forty-seven stories recorded here as recounted by Upper Coquille consultant Coquelle Thompson Sr., an accomplished storyteller who lived through the Rogue River Wars of 1855–56. His tribal community was evicted from its homeland and resettled with other Athabaskan groups on the Siletz Reservation, where he lived for ninety years.
 
This volume offers a behind-the-scenes look at the collection of oral accounts, a sketch of Upper Coquille Athabaskan culture, an examination of Thompson’s storytelling, and extended analyses of four stories, including “Pitch Woman.” The reader is encouraged to “listen” to the stories with an ear attuned both to the storyteller himself and to the stories’ own cultural context.

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Sky Loom

Native American Myth, Story, and Song

Brian Swann

Sky Loom offers a dazzling introduction to Native American myths, stories, and songs drawn from previous collections by acclaimed translator and poet Brian Swann. With a general introduction by Swann, Sky Loom is a stunning collection that provides a glimpse into the intricacies and beauties of story and myth, placing them in their cultural, historical, and linguistic contexts.

Each of the twenty-five selections is translated and introduced by a well-known expert on Native oral literatures and offers entry into the cultures and traditions of several different tribes and bands, including the Yupiit and the Tlingits of the polar North; the Coast Salish and the Kwakwaka’wakw of the Pacific Northwest; the Navajos, the Pimas, and the Yaquis of the Southwest; the Lakota Sioux and the Plains Crees of the Great Plains; the Ojibwes of the Great Lakes; the Naskapis and the Eastern Crees of the Hudson Bay area in Canada; and the Munsees of the Northeast. Sky Loom takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through literary traditions older than the “discovery” of the New World.


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Voices from Four Directions

Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America

Brian Swann

Storytelling and singing continue to be a vital part of community life for Native peoples today. Voices from Four Directions gathers stories and songs from thirty-one Native groups in North America—including the Iñupiaqs in the frigid North, the Lushootseeds along the forested coastline of the far West, the Catawbas in the humid South, and the Maliseets of the rugged woods of the East. Vivid stories of cosmological origins and transformation, historical events remembered and retold, as well as legendary fables can be found in these pages. Well-known Trickster figures like Raven, Rabbit, and Coyote figure prominently in several tales as do heroes of local fame such as Tom Laporte of the Maliseets. The stories and songs entertain, instruct, and recall rich legacies as well as obligations. Many are retellings and reinventions of classic narratives, while others are more recent creations.

Award-winning poet and critic Brian Swann has gathered some of the richest and most diverse literatures of Native North America and provides an introduction to the volume. In addition, each story is introduced and newly translated.

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