INTRODUCTION TO THE PAPERBACK EDITION

Wallace L. Chafe

This book contains English-language versions of seventy myths and folktales that were collected by George A. Dorsey from Caddo storytellers in Oklahoma in the first decade of the twentieth century. Dorsey's introduction is extremely brief, and leaves the reader wishing for further information. Who were the Caddos? Who, for that matter, was Dorsey? And why should these stories be of interest?


THE CADDOS

The ancestors of the people who now call themselves in English the Caddos, but in their own language the Hasí-nay (Hasinai),1 were living in the sixteenth century in a large number of settlements that were spread over a vast area in what is now eastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas, and northern Louisiana. They seem to have been organized into three separate confederacies. The Hasinai group was centered near the Neches and Angelina Rivers in eastern Texas. Another group, the Kaduhdá-chu? (Cadohadacho),2 was centered near the great bend of the Red River near the Arkansas-Louisiana border. The name Caddo was taken from the first two syllables of that name. Finally, there was a smaller group farther down the Red River known as the Nashit'ush ("pawpaw place," spelled by the French Natchitoches).

The first Europeans to encounter the Caddos were members of the destructive Hernando de Soto expedition in 1541 and 1542 ( Young and Hoffman 1993). There were no further European intrusions until René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle visited them in 1686. From that time on both the Spanish and the French conducted among them a series of

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I am grateful to Cecile Elkins Carter, Raymond J. DeMallie, and Douglas R. Parks for their significant help in the preparation of this introduction.

-vii-

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