Myths and Traditions of the Crow Indians

Myths and Traditions of the Crow Indians

Myths and Traditions of the Crow Indians

Myths and Traditions of the Crow Indians

Synopsis

Myths And Traditions Of The Crow Indians is now reprinted with a new introduction by Peter Nabokov. These concretely detailed accounts served the crow Indians as entertainments, morals lessons, cultural records, and guides to the workings of the universe.

Excerpt

Toward the close of his field survey of Canadian Plains Indians in the summer of 1907, the young anthropologist Robert H. Lowie received additional instructions from Clark Wissler, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Lowie was to pay a short visit to the Crow Indians of south-central Montana. Twenty‐ four years old and still a graduate student at Columbia University, Lowie was actually experiencing his second fieldwork with Indians. The previous summer as a volunteer assistant for Wissler he had visited the Lemhi Shoshones of Fort Hall, Idaho, where, with the aid of interpreters, Lowie transcribed thirty-nine oral narratives. Although he had conducted library research on Indian folklore, this was the first time Lowie experienced the important and ambiguous Coyote character in Plains Indian folklore (Lowie 1909). To present the sexually explicit portions of Coyote's escapades, Lowie translated these passages into the Latin required at the time (which explains why portions of these Crow stories are also in Latin). In the same period Lowie also edited a collection of Shoshone stories collected by H. H. St. Clair among the Wind River Shoshones (Lowie 1909a). This second season, however, as a paid assistant for the Museum, his own career as an ethnographer was fully launched.

Already this year Lowie had enjoyed a too-brief stay among the Blackfoot of Alberta, where he recorded one specific myth that Wissler wanted and "jotted down a few folk tales" (Lowie 1959:17), briefly sojourned among the Plains Crees of Hobbema where "the old ways seemed to have been largely abandoned" (Lowie 1959:18), and then spent seven weeks among the Stoney Assiniboines of Morley, where he soon filled his notebooks with eighty transcribed oral narratives (Lowie 1909b), though the "strongly missionized" Assiniboine culture made him long for the "picturesque Blackfeet." However, the following four weeks among the Crows utterly replaced that longing, laying the foundation "for far and away the most important part of my field research in later years" (Lowie 1959:19).

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