Native American Folktales

Native American Folktales

Native American Folktales

Native American Folktales

Synopsis

Folktales are at the heart of Native American culture. Prepared especially for students and general readers, this book conveniently collects 31 of the most important Native American folktales. These are drawn from the major Native American cultural and geographical areas and are organized in sections on origins; heroes, heroines, villains, and fools; society and conflict; and the supernatural. The tales reflect the environment, cultural adaptations, and prevailing concerns of the areas from which they are taken. Each tale begins with a brief introductory headnote, and the book closes with a selected bibliography. Students in social studies classes will welcome this book as a window on Native American culture, while students in literature courses will value its exploration of Native American oral traditions.

Prepared especially for students and general readers, this book conveniently collects and comments on 31 of the most important Native American folktales. These are drawn from the major Native American cultural and geographical areas and reflect the environment, cultural adaptations, and prevailing concerns of the regions from which they are taken.

Excerpt

Native American Folktales is designed to provide educators, students, and general readers with examples of a range of traditional Native American narrative types: fictional tales, legends, myths, and personal experience narratives. Given the hundreds of distinct indigenous cultures in the Americas, the collection cannot be comprehensive. The volume, however, does contain representative examples of the storytelling traditions of major Native North American geographic and cultural areas: Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Basin, California, Plains, Northwest, Sub-Arctic, and Arctic. The tales reflect the environment, cultural adaptations, and prevailing concerns of the respective areas from which they are drawn, as well as more general features of the Native American worldview. The introductions to each tale comment on these issues. The concluding general bibliography provides additional resources for those readers who wish to explore these issues in greater depth.

The collection is divided into four parts. “Origins” encompasses those narratives that focus on beginnings and transformations: the creation of the world and its inhabitants and how animal species acquired their physical characteristics, for example. “Heroes, Heroines, Villains, and Fools” presents a cross-section of major character types that populate Native American folktales. “Society and Conflict” contains considerations of social issues ranging from conventional morality to intergroup conflicts. Finally, “The Supernatural” concentrates on traditional tales of the dead, the magical, and the monstrous.

The narratives have been modified from their original forms for the benefit of contemporary readers. The modifications have been held to the minimum necessary to translate these tales for their intended audiences, to eliminate redundancy in some cases, and, in a few cases, alternative terminology has been substituted for terms (particularly racially charged terms) that would prove offensive to contemporary readers. The source of each selection is noted at its conclusion for the benefit of readers who wish to read the original texts.

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