Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians

Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians

Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians

Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians

Synopsis

The narratives include myths of ancient times, legends of supernatural power bestowed on selected individuals, historical accounts, and anecdotes of mysterious incidents.

Excerpt

Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians is a one-volume selection of narratives reprinted from volumes 3 and 4 of Traditional Narratives of the Arikara Indians (Parks 1991). The latter work, a four-volume set comprising 156 oral narratives, is the only comprehensive collection recorded in the native language of the major genres in the historical and literary tradition of the Arikaras, a historically important northern Plains people who for centuries have lived along the middle course of the Missouri River and today still live by its waters in west-central North Dakota, where Garrison Dam forms Lake Sakakawea, the reservoir that now divides the Fort Berthold Reservation. Through the contributions of numerous tribal elders, the narratives, both in the original publication and in this abridged edition, range in content from mythology and other folkloristic genres to historical accounts and cultural descriptions, embodying a rich selection of what has survived into the late-twentieth century of the fundamental attributes as well as the topical diversity and range of stylistic variation of traditional Arikara oral literature.

In the original publication, volumes I and 2 present linguistic transcriptions of the Arikara oral tape recordings of the narratives accompanied by literal word-by-ward English translations. The narratives of a single individual, Alfred Morsette, Sr., constitute volume 1, while the narratives of ten other contributors comprise volume 2. Volumes 3 and 4 present free English translations of the stories paralleling the arrangement of the first two volumes. An extended introduction in volume 3 serves the entire collection, covering a variety of topics designed to aid the reader to understand the narratives as fully as possible and to appreciate them as historical and literary documents. To contextualize the collection, the introduction begins with sections that provide a cultural and historical overview of the Arikara people, the history of past documentation of Arikara oral traditions, and short biographies of the narrators who contributed stories to the present collection. Against this background there follows a discussion of the structure of the narratives and their English presentation. Here the topics include a characterization of the nature of the collection, the principles guiding the translations and redactive forms of the narratives, the . . .

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