Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians

By John R. Swanton | Go to book overview

MYTHS AND TALES OF THE SOUTHEASTERN INDIANS

By JOHN R. SWANTON


INTRODUCTION

The greater part of the accompanying material was collected by the writer between the years 1908 and 1914. Among the Creek myths, however, are included most of those secured by W. O. Tuggle many years ago, the originals of which are preserved among the documents in the Bureau of American Ethnology. The rest were taken down at various places and from various persons, and for the most part in English, no systematic attempt having been made at what might be called a Creek collection. The Alabama stories are from the Alabama Indians living in Polk County, Tex., and the Koasati stories from some of the same informants and from the Koasati near Kinder, La. The Hitchiti stories were obtained from a few speakers of the Hitchiti language in the northern part of Seminole County, Okla., part of them having been recorded directly, while part were written down in the original by an Indian. The Natchez collection, so called, was secured from one of the few remaining speakers of the ancient Natchez tongue residing near Braggs, Okla., a man named Watt Sam. This informant had drawin not merely upon his own people but upon his Cherokee and Creek neighbors, and it would now be impossible to say how much of the collection is pure Natchez, or, indeed, whether any of it may be so denominated. These stories and those from the Hitchiti, Koasati, and Alabama were also recorded in text form.

No attempt has been made to separate these stories into classes, but the following general order has been observed. Stories which deal with natural phenomena or the doings of ancient native heroes, such as might more properly be called myths, have been placed first. Next have been entered stories of visits to the world of the dead, of which there are few, as it happens, except in the Alabama series. Then come stories detailing encounters between men and animals or supernatural beings in animal form. After these have been placed tales dealing with happenings among the animals, concluding with all of those having to do with the Southeastern trickster Rabbit. Then appear stories -- or other stories -- known to have been borrowed from the whites or Negroes, or such as probably had such an origin, and at the end a few war tales of miscellaneous character.

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