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Alan Dundes

North american indian Folklore Studies

In: Journal de la Socit des Amricanistes. Tome 56 n1, 1967. pp. 53-79.

Citer ce document / Cite this document : Dundes Alan. North american indian Folklore Studies. In: Journal de la Socit des Amricanistes. Tome 56 n1, 1967. pp. 5379. doi : 10.3406/jsa.1967.2271






by Alan DUNDES

There have been numerous books and articles written about the Ameri can Indian. George Peter Murdock's third edition (1960) of his Ethnogra phic Bibliography of North America contains more than 17,000 entries for 277 groups. General surveys of the American Indian and his culture abound. In addition to the older Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (1907, 1910), there are such works as Clark Wissler's The American Indian (1938) and his Indians of the United States (1966), Ruth Underbill's Red Man's America : A History of Indians in the United States (1953), Harold Driver's Indians of North America (1961), and Robert Spencer and Jesse Jennings, The Native Americans : Prehistory and Ethnology of the North Amer ican Indians (1965). However, with particular reference to folklore, there has never been a comprehensive survey of North American Indian folklore scholarship. To be sure, there have been reports of regional or tribal folklore scholarship, e.g., the ones appearing in the Journal of American Folklore in 1947 for the Iroquois (Fenton), the Algonquian (Flannery), the Plains Indians (Lowie), the southeastern Indians (Haas) and the Indians of the far west (Ray), but there is no overview of the folklore scholarship of the scope of Hultkrantz's fine survey of North American Indian religion scho larship (1965). Since with few exceptions, the folklore of the American Indian is me mory culture , that is, traditional myths and tales which are remembered, 1. This paper was presented at the 37th International Congress of Americanists in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in September 1966. I am grateful to William Fenton, Mike Harner, Dell Hymes, and Dale Valory for critical comments and bibliographical sug gestions.



often with difficulty, by individual Indians in various stages of acculturat ion, is little point in reviewing post-contact history. Generally speaki there ng, the Indians of the eastern part of the United States were deeulturized or annihilated first, while the Indians of the Plains and of the Far West have managed to survive in marginal reservation areas. A few Indian peoples have actually increased in population in recent time, e.g., the Navaho who presently number approximately 90,000 in comparison with less than one sixth of that figure one hundred years ago. But the vast majority have never recovered from the decimation by disease and warfare introduced by landhungry European settlers. On the other hand, there have been several fac tors which have helped to prolong the existence of even memory culture. The combination of the Indian's own penchant for individual and 'or tribal existence apart from the dominant white culture and the U.S. Government's not always consistent policy of isolating Indians by removing them, often forcibly, to specially designated reservations, usually selected without re gard to matching the original home and habitat, has resulted in less inte rmixture of Indians and non- Indians than is the case with other elements of the population in the United States. While there has been some inte rmarriage between Indians and Whites and between Indians and Negroes, American Indians have generally tried hard to resist the inevitable wester nizing influence. The Indians of North, Middle, and South America actually form one an thropological unit, but the historical accident of European settlement pat tern and dominance (Spanish in Latin and Meso- America ; English in North America) coupled with the Euro-American penchant for trichotomy has continued to artificially divide the American Indian and American Indian studies. Despite the fact that there are many obvious parallels between North, Middle, and South American Indians, and between all of them and Asiatic peoples, investigations of the total range of American Indian culture have rarely been undertaken. In accordance with this illogical but tradi tional academic division of labor, the present discussion will concern only the North American Indian. There are two basic principles or devices which are utilized to classify the North American Indian (and other peoples of the world as well). They are culture area and language . Both classification schemes involve some arbitrariness, but both are used. The culture area concept deve loped in part from a museum curator's approach to the problem of classi fication. Clark Wissler took a variety of culture traits , e.g., textile types, metal work, decorative art motifs, transportation techniques, etc., and lump ed together those peoples who shared a significant number of typical traits (Kroeber 1931). From what was essentially material culture. Wissler (1914) arrived at nine culture areas. Stith Thompson followed Wissler's divisions in subdividing the important notes to his Tales of the North American In dians in 1929 and in his later discussion of American Indian folktales (1946 : 300-301). Alfred L. Kroeber revised Wissler's scheme and proposed seven



major areas with eighty-four subareas while more recently Driver has pro posed seventeen major areas (Spencer and Jennings 1965 : 5). The linguistic p.lnssifications while slightly less arbitrary than the culture area designations reflect similar variety. It has been estimated that for the land area north of Mexico, there are about 200 separate languages, as compared with 350 for Mexico and Middle America and with 1450 for South America (Spencer and Jennings 1965 : 101-102). In 1940, C.W. Voegelin estimated that 149 North American Indian languages were still spoken and twenty years or so later Chafe, using a questionnaire, found a comparable number. Since the subdivisions resulting from culture areas and linguistic affiliations do not overlap, most individual Indian tribes are identified by either or both. Thus the Navaho are part of the Southwest culture area (in Kroeber's scheme) the' and the Navaho language belongs to Athabascan language family. The Hopi are also in the Southwest, but their language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family. (For a discussion of both language families and culture areas, see Driver 1961 : 577-581). By far the majority of North American Indian folk lore scholarship has been limited to one tribe or to one language family or culture area. Sources of American Indian folklore There are several standard sources for the study of North American In dian folklore. Listings by tribes are found in Murdock's Ethnographic Bi bliography of North America and in Charles Haywood's A Bibliography of North American Folklore and Folksong, the two volume second edition of which appeared in 1961. In addition, references to the more than 130 theses and dissertations written on North American Indian folklore may be found in Frederick J. Dockstader's The American Indian in Graduate Studies (1957). The valuable manuscript collections of folk narratives deposited in the l ibrary of the American Philosophical Society represent still another source of unpublished materials (Freeman 1966). There are also several surveys of the materials (but not the scholarship). Probably the best are Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin's North American Native Literature in the Encyclope dia of Literature (1946) and her North American Indian folklore , in the Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend (1950). WheelerVoegelin's surveys cover all the genres. Other surveys are limited to myths or folktales. Examples would be H.B. Alexander's North American Mythol ogy,Volume Ten in the Mythology of AH Races series (1916) and the sec tion of Stith Thompson's The Folktale devoted to American Indian tales (1946 : 295-363). The definition of North American Indian folklore Most of the work on North American Indian folklore is confined to trea tments of folktale and myth. This is partly because of the anthropological (as opposed to the European or literary) definition of folk and folklore. An-



thropologists tend to think of folklore as what Bascom terms verbal art (Dundes 1965 : 25-28). This includes such verbal forms as folktales, myths, legends, proverbs and riddles. Part of the resistance to the term ' folk ' comes from the traditional (bvit mistaken) conception of folk as a group living in civi lization but a group living behind the times in a backward state. In this narrow unfortunate conception the folk might almost be defined as the ill iterate in a literate society. The folk would thus be distinct from people who used to be called savages or primitives and who are now termed pre-or non crates. Thus the American Indians do not qualify as folk in the strictest sense of this false definition. The music of the American Indian is not con sidered folk music ; the art of the American Indian is not considered folk art . American Indian music and art are considered instead to be primitive or traditional to use another euphemism, music and art. American Indian music would normally be studied by an ethnomusicologist rather than a student of folk music. Yet the American Indian verbal mater ials evidently do qualify as folklore. American Indians do have folktales, not ' primitive ' tales. The European or literary folklorist tends to have a somewhat broader concept of folk and folklore. Volkskunde and folklife studies have nearly the scope of what anthropologists call ethnography. Yet the European and literary folklorist does essentially cling to the outmoded notion of the folk as an uncivilized segment of a civilized society. Literary tradition-bound folklorists in both North and South America work almost exclusively with folklore of European origin. In North America, this is reflected in the volu minous Anglo-American ballad scholarship ; in South America, one finds a great interest in folklore of Spanish (or Portuguese) origin. The folklore of the Negro (in both North and South America) has been studied by literary folklorists, partly because the Negro has been better integrated into white society (as opposed to the Indian). It is too bad that the literary folklorist with his more inclusive definition of the genres of folklore, has so consistently ignored the American Indian. One result of the literary folklorists having left the American Indian to the anthropologists Dorson's standard American Folklore has chapters on America i Immigrant folklore and on Negro folklore, but none on American Indian folklore -- is that the definition of American Indian folklore has been limited to a half-dozen forms of verbal art. Wheeler- Voegelin lists prose narratives, songs, chants, formulae, speeches, prayers, puns, proverbs and riddles (1950 : 798). Noteworthy is the fact that the folklore of body mo vement, e.g., games and dances, is not mentioned. Even the verbal forms as listed are somewhat misleading inasmuch as more than nine tenths of the scholarship is devoted to prose narratives. In essence, the study of Amer ican Indian folklore is essentially reducible to the study of American Indian folktales and myths. While one may deplore the excessively limited defi nition of American Indian folklore, one cannot ignore it in attempting a sur vey of this kind. Thus those interested in art and music should consult such



works as Boas's Primitive Art (1927), Douglas and D'Harnoncourt's Indian Art of the United States (1941), Inverarity's Art of the Northwest Coast Indinns (1950). Nettl's North American Indian Musical Styles (1945) and Hickerson's useful 464 page Annotated bibliography of North American In dian music north of Mexico (1961). The present survey will include only those folkloristic genres of forms actually studied as folklore by anthropol ogists folklorists. and Riddles The fundamental question here is whether or not the riddle genre is found in American Indian tradition. The answer appears to be a weak and quali fiedaffirmative. Boas in 1925 remarked on the apparent absence of riddles in continental aboriginal North America, even as borrowings from Spanish culture, and in fact used this absence as a caution against assuming the uni versality of folklore genres (1940 : 495, 502). In 1926, Boas reported two Eskimo riddles and repeated his assertion that with the exception of Jett's collection (1913) of Ten'a riddles from British Columbia, riddles were un known among the American Indians. One of South America's most scholarly folklorists, Robert Lehmann-Nitsche, suggested in 1927 that riddles were absent among South American Indians as well. Several years later, Elsie Clews Parsons stated the riddle absence theory more forcefully (1936) draw ing from Muntsch (1941) for neglecting to mention the reports of riddles fire by Dorsey and Jette. In 1944, famed riddle authority Archer Taylor review ed question and the available evidence. Included in the evidence were the three Omaha riddle texts collected by J. Owen Dorsey and published in 1884. However, these texts were not originally Indian and in fact Dorsey apparently discovered the European origin of these Omaha texts himself. According to one account, Dorsey was informed by some young Indian youth sometime after publishing the texts that the riddles had been learned from white children neighbors and possibly from a popular publication The Youth's Companion (Wingate 1893 : 8). Taylor, unaware of Dorsey's discovery, went ahead and sought European parallels to the Omaha texts. After a sober consideration of the evidence, Taylor concluded that the few riddles col lected from Indians living in the United States showed almost no trace of native origin (1944 : 7). Yet he stated that it was probable, scanty informat ion notwithstanding, that American Indians did have riddles of their own (1944 : 15). More recent data tend to support this assertion. In 1956, Jes samine Upson published twenty riddles from Chatino speakers in Mexico. In 1963, Charles Scott reported on the results of a questionnaire survey he made. From riddle-seeking questionnaires sent to linguists working with Indians in Central and South America, he received a number of texts, in cluding as many as forty-five from one group, the Amuzgo, in Mexico. In 1964, David M'cAUester published materials which he had collected in 1940 from the Comanche. Included were thirty- two riddles. From this, we may



definitely assume that American Indians have riddles, but it is equally cer tain that the riddle tradition is a weak one. The riddles are generally nonoppositional and are often literal (Georges and Dundes). The more difficult oppositional riddles appear to be lacking. It is interesting that many of the metaphorical ones among the Ten'a are introduced by a formulaic it is like or it acts like . Perhaps the function of this formula is essentially to warn the addressees that the riddle question is not a literal description. It is as if simile were permissible, but metaphor were not. Clearly, the riddle is not an important genre of folklore among the American Indians. Proverbs The proverb is also said to be largely absent from North American In dian tradition. Wheel er-Voegelin indicates that proverbial sayings have been reported for the Crow, Dakota, Ojibwa, Eskimo and Tsimshian (1946 : 706). However the evidence is skimpy as Powell's Ute (1881 : 56), Morison's Tsimshian (1889), and Lowie's Crow (1932) examples demonstrate. The pro verb is definitely not a significant folkloristic genre in aboriginal North America. Tongue-twisters The tongue-twister has been reported in North American Indian tradi tion, but the total number of examples is pitifully small. They include Lowie's two Crow examples (1914), Dundes' Choctaw text (1964), and Me Allester's six Comanche specimens (1964). It is probable that more could be obtained if concerted efforts were made to elicit this inadequately investi gated genre. Puns The pun has been reported from a few American Indian groups, for example, the Cur d'Alne, Comanche, Navaho, Omaha, and Winnebago, (For refe rences, see Dundes 1964b : 194, n. 2, and McAllester 1964 : 255.) Metaphors There are all too few collections of folk metaphors ( proverbial phrases ) but the paucity is more likely due to the failure of collectors to elicit and note them than to the lack of such forms of folklore. (For examples, see Russ ell 1920, Boas's 1929 listing of Kwakiutl metaphors reprinted in his Race, Language and Culture collection of essays (1940 : 232-239), and McAllester's several Comanche examples.) On the other hand, Benjamin Lee Whorf, in comparing Hopi with European languages, remarked that whereas Euro pean languages commonly express durations, intensities, and tendencies by means of metaphor, Hopi did not (Whorf 1964 : 146). Whorf went so far as



to label the absence of such metaphor from Hopi speech as striking . From the point of view of the ' Sapir-Whorf hypothesis ' which assumes that cognition and worldview are linguistically determined to a great extent, the minimal amount of metaphor built into an American Indian language might account for the relative lack of forms of folklore depending upon word play with metaphors, forms such as riddle and proverb. One must rememb er American Indians have had opportunities to borrow riddles (from that the same white or Negro groups from whom they did borrow folktales !). Perhaps Elsie Clews Parsons was correct in explaining the failure of the Micmac Indians to borrow riddles from their French and Negro neighbors and of the Pueblo Indians to borrow riddles from the surrounding Spanish culture to a definite cultural block against metaphor (1925 : 132 ; 1936 : 171). Prayers and Charms The prayers of some American Indians have been investigated. For refer ences to discussions of Crow, Navaho, Winnebago, and Zuni prayers, see Wheeler-Voegelin (1950 : 800). Other prayer texts may be found in Shimkin (1947 : 351-352) and in Astrov's The Winged Serpent (1946). For a discus sion Cherokee charms or sacred formulas, see Kilpatrick (1964, 1965). of There are a variety of other minor ritual verbal forms. For example, Lowie (1942) reported what he termed a water fetcher's communication . Speeches Speeches are a very important form of American Indian folklore (WheelerVoegelin 1950 : 801, Chamberlain 1913), but they have received little or no scholarly attention. A number of excellent representative oratorical texts (English translation only) are contained in Astrov's The Winged Serpent, but there is no rhetorical analysis. Poetry The standard scholarship on North American Indian poetry includes stu dies by Barnes (1921), Walton and Waterman (1925) and Hymes (1965b). Useful collections of texts are Margot Astrov's The Winged Serpent : An Anthology of American Indian Prose (1946) and A. Grove Day's The Sky Clears : Poetry of the American Indians (1951). Song The considerable research in American Indian song has been surveyed by ethnomusicologist Bruno Nettl in his An Introduction to Folk Music in the United States (1962 : 24-38) and his bibliographical suggestions (1962 : 119-120) list some of the classic studies by Densmore, Herzog, Nettl, and Roberts. A later survey by Nettl also treats American Indian music (1965 :



147-168). A most useful research tool is Hickerson's bibliographical thesis previously mentioned. Dance The serious study of American Indian dance is no further advanced than the study of folk dance generally. This is unfortunate inasmuch as most Indians place a high value upon traditional dances and it continues to occupy an important niche in contemporary life. The leading authority on American Indian dance is Gertrude Kurath whose general survey works provide some information and initial references (1949, 1960). Games Early work by Davis (1885, 1886) was followed by Culin's classic and comprehensive Games of the North American Indians in 1907. Research in this area of folkloristic material has continued with such works as Lesser's The Pawnee Ghost Dance Hand Game (1933) and Stern's The Rubber-Ball Games of the Americas (1950). Superstitions Many folklorists, both literary and anthropological, are reluctant to con sider superstition or folk belief as part of folklore (Dundes 1965b : 7, 28) and they tend to exclude it as they do game and dance from what they term folklore. Nevertheless the majority of folklorists do normally include su perstitions as an intrinsic part of folklore. Certainly this form of folklore is one of the dominant forms in American Indian tradition. There are numer ousexamples in some of the important early works, e.g., by Lafitau in 1724 and by Catlin in 1844. Superstitions are frequently sporadically reported in standard ethnographies. Rarely are superstitions set apart and reported separately as they are in European folklore scholarship. Some of the few more specialized reportings of superstitions include Jette's Ten'a (1911), Densmore's Chippewa (1929), Boas's Kwakiutl (1932), Tantaquidgeon's De laware (1942) and MacNeish's Slave (1954) collections. However, despite the abundance of materials, relatively little analysis has been undertaken. Not even comparative studies have been attempted. Such studies would not only reveal parallels among North American Indian groups but also between North and South American Indian traditions. For example, I collected a superstition from an Oglala Sioux informant in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1963. This supersitition which she had learned from her grandmother who had lived on an Oglala Reservation in the Dakotas was If you stick your finger in the rainbow, your finger will turn black and fall off . According to a brief article in the Haskell Institute school paper, The Indian Leader, in April, 1902, a Washo reported that he was told by his mother not to point his fin ger at the rainbow for if he did, his finger would grow crooked. This latter



belief (cf. motif C843.1, Tabu : pointing at rainbow) is found in almost iden tical form in South America (Mtraux 1946 : 39). In similar fashion, one can discover that the notion that shooting stars are the results of an act of defecation is found among the Ute (Powell 1881 : 27) in North America and among several South American Indian peoples (Mtraux 1946 : 24 ; Oberg 1953 : 99 ; cf. motif A788.4, Shooting stars are star-dung). The exact nature of the details of these superstitions points to a common tradition rather than polygenetic independent invention. The functional and psychol ogical significance of such superstitions remains to be elucidated. Folk narrative From the days of the first European visitors to American shores, there have been written records of American Indian folk narratives. Columbus left a priest on Hispaniola and this priest, Ramon Pane, recorded several Taino myths (Bourne 1907). The extensive Spanish colonial records and the voluminous French Jesuit Relations dating from the seventeenth century provide a number of texts. Missionary and travel reports so common elsewhere in the world have continued to serve as rich sources for folklore. In the early and middle nineteenth century, Indian Agents, assigned by the U.S. Gov ernment, such as Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, began to collect American In dian narratives. (For a useful list of Schoolcraft's tales, see Hallowell's 1946 concordance.) In 1865, E.B. Tylor published his Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization in which he drew heavily upon North American Indian myths for his arguments. One chapter devoted to the Geographical Distribution of Myths was particularly con cerned with discussing Asian and other parallels to American Indian myths and tales, e.g., Sun Snarer. In 1868, Daniel G. Brinton, a doctor of medicine who became vitally interested in American Indian folklore, published The Myt hs of the New World which was probably the first book length survey of Ameri canIndian narrative. The general public interest in American Indian tales at this time is indicated by such articles as The Folk-Lore of the Red Man in the Eclectic Magazine in 1868 which reviewed the works of Schoolcraft and others. In 1881, J.W. Powell, one of the founders of the Bureau of Ameri canEthnology, wrote an ambitious but brief survey of American Indian mythology. The following year, Brinton published his American Hero-Myths. However, Brinton's advocacy of psychic unity, polygenesis, and solar mythol ogy colored his presentation considerably and the eventual obsolescence of some of these theoretical approaches has obscured Brinton's very prais eworthy pioneering concern with the analysis of American Indian narrative. By far the most important intellectual stimulus for the study of Ameri can Indian folk narrative was Franz Boas and his numerous writings on folklore. His articles on Eskimo and Northwest Pacific Coast folklore and his various survey articles such as The Mythologies of the Indians (190506) and Mythology and Folk-Tales of the North American Indians (1914)



all attest to his extraordinary contribution to the study of North American Indian folklore. (For critical evaluations, see Spier 1931, Reichard 1943, Lowie 1944, and Jacobs 1959b). Almost every significant type of research in American Indian folk narrative can be traced back to an idea first set forth by Boas. In 1891, Boas published a paper entitled Dissemination of Tales Among the Natives of North America in which he surveyed the distribution of tales on the North American continent. It was much more comprehensive and detailed than Powell's philosophically oriented survey (1881 : 19-56) had been. A host of similar surveys have appeared since Boas's, e.g., Curtin 1898, Chamberlain 1905, Spence 1914, Alexander 1916, Reichard 1921, Thompson 1946 : 295-363, and Rooth 1957. In the same paper (1940 : 444) Boas suggested that tales had been trans mitted between eastern Asia and North America and he even noted speci fically that there were several Ainu tales which were very likely cognates with Northwest Pacific Coast tales. Although Tylor had earlier remarked upon the Asian-American Indian parallels, it was Boas who encouraged comparative research in this area, and the problem has intrigued scholars throughout the twentieth century. The fruits of the search for Asian parallels to American Indian myths and tales are many in number. In addition to the classic studies of Bogoras (1902) and Hatt (1949, 1951), there have been a host of other more limited analyses, e.g., those by Erkes (1925), Koppers (1930), Hoebel (1941), Norbeck (1955), Ikeda (1960), Chowning (1962), and Gibbon (1964). Of course, materials other than narrative have also been utilized. Art and music, for example, have been examined in the light of Asian traditions (Adam 1931, Hentze 1936, Barbeau 1942, 1962) as well as rain (Lou 1957) and tree (King 1958) worship. Boas was also interested in comparative studies within the continental United States. In 1897, Boas compared the narrative repertoires of the north ern and southern Athabascans (e.g., the Navaho). Here was a case where peoples speaking genetically related languages were geographically far apart. Folkloristic comparisons within the Athabascan linguistic family have con tinued with Tsuchiyama's dissertation (1947) and Zbinden's (1960) analysis of culture heroes. Another important study of mythology within a linguis tic stock is Fisher's comprehensive comparison of Northeastern and Plains Algonkian tales (1946) which continued the traditional scholarship of Dixon (1909) and Gille (1939). Comparisons between North and South American Indian myths were begun shortly after the turn of the century by Paul Ehrenreich who was largely stimulated by the work of Boas and Bogoras. Ehrenreich wondered about the possibility of Asian parallels in South American Indian folk nar rative and the probability of parallels between North and South American Indian traditions. A paper (Ehrenreich 1906) presented at the Internatio nal Congress of Americanists in Stuttgart in 1904 was followed by a mono graph on the relationships of South American Indian narrative to the nar-



ratives of North America and the Old World (1905). Unfortunately, Ehrenreich was an adamant solar and lunar mythologist. In 1908, Lowie writing his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University under Boas elected to study Northwest coast folklore. In the course of making his analysis of the testtheme (Lowie 1908), Lowie pretty well annihilated Ehrenreich's solar mythol ogy.Although lunar interpretations of American Indian material continued to be championed in Europe after that (Kunike 1920, 1926), Ehrenreich fell into disrepute among American anthropologists and folklorists. His excel lentidea of comparing North and South American Indian folklore was wrongly put aside. Except for an occasional article, e.g., by Rock (1924), LehmannNitsche (1938) or a short list of parallels (Lowie 1940 : 420-422), this type of comparative research has languished. In fact, the comparative method with regard to either North or South American Indian traditions has gone into a serious decline. One reason for the cessation of comparative studies of American Indian folkloristic materials by anthropologists was the anthropologists' deep in tel ectual commitment to cultural relativism, that is, to studying one cul ture at a time in depth. Part of this was an understandable reaction to the all inclusive unilinear evolutionary scheme of the nineteenth century which encouraged comparative studies among the English anthropological folk lorists. Thus though Boas himself practiced the comparative method in folklore, many of his students (e.g., Melville Jacobs) did not. The reaction against psychic unity pushed the pendulum too far towards the other extreme. Cultures were assumed to be unique incomparable monads. The delineation of differences rather than the search for similarities was the order of the day. While the literary, European-oriented folklorists con tinued to compare rather than contrast, these folklorists tended to ignore American Indian folklore for the most part. Among the obstacles -blocking comparative studies was the lack of any logical comprehensive scheme of codification and classification. In 1907, John Swanton, who had earlier (1905) evinced an interest in tale typology, called for a concordance of American myths, that is, what we would now term a tale type or motif index. Swanton's suggestion inspired Kroeber and Lowie to propose a series of convenient catchwords (Kroeber 1908 ; Lowie 1908, 1909), some of which are still employed, e.g., Lowie's Star Husband . One might note that it was 1910 when Aarne published his famous index of Euro pean tale types. Unfortunately, Swanton's proposed concordance was not to be even partially realized for some years and in fact has not yet been fully realized. It was shortly after this period that Stith Thompson went to Harvard University to work on his doctorate. At Harvard, Thompson read through most of the major American Indian tale collections searching for tales of probable European origin. His dissertation, European Borrowings and Par allels in North American Indian Tales , was completed in 1914 and was published in part in 1919 as European Tales Among the North American



Indians. Although Thompson worked originally in the narrow literary ethno centric tradition which studied non-western oral literature in terms of Euro pean categories and esthetics (much as early ethnocentric linguists vainly tried to find Latin and Greek grammatical distinctions in American Indian languages), the final result was beneficial for both literary and anthropolog ical folklorists. Thompson became interested in the native American In dian tales rather than just the European borrowings and he eventually r eturned to study these native tales. Moreover, Thompson's concern with American Indian versions of European tale types led to an increased aware nessamong anthropologists of the value of collecting such tales. One must remember that at this point in time, anthropologists were purists seeking only the pure precontact American Indian culture. Mooney who made an extensive collection of Cherokee tales published in 1900 went so far as to specifically mention that he did not even bother to record what were obviously European tales from his Cherokee informants (1900 : 235). The Thompson study has inspired a series of similar, but more modest efforts, e.g., Boas's fine article (1925) Romance Folk-Lore Among American In dians (1940 : 517-524) and articles by Skinner (1913, 1916), Speck (1913, 1950), Teit (1916), Parsons (1918, 1926), Fenton (1948), Honigman (1953) and Beck (1958) among others (cf. Lydy 1926). In some instances, the only reporting of a particular European tale type on the American continent was the American Indian version, a curious example of marginal survival (Dundes 1964a ; 1965b : 240, n. 20). However, the mere listing and iden tifying of European tale types per se is a rather sterile scholarly pastime. What is of interest is the possibility that borrowed European tales can reveal clues about the culture of the borrowers. For example, borrowed European tales can serve as indices of acculturation. The more the European borro wings and the fewer the changes introduced in them, the more likely it is that an American Indian culture is on the wane. The fewer the borrowings and /or the greater the number of changes introduced, the more likely it is that the American Indian culture concerned is still very much a vital and functioning one. One could have assumed from Cushing's famous example of a Zuni retelling of a European cumulative tale (Dundes 1965b : 269-276) that the Zuni were still strong culturally speaking as indeed they are. Moreo ver, in some ways a borrowed European folktale can tell the prospective analyst more than a native tale can. Many native American Indian tale types are almost continental-wide in distribution and within one particular geo graphic or cultural area, the tale may be quite similar among several diffe rent groups. It is often hard to ascertain how long a given group has told a particular tale and what changes if any have been introduced by that group. However, the identification of a European tale permits the possibility of a comparison of before and after . The normal Spanish or French form of the European tale may be compared with the native retelling. Since we have reasonably reliable historical records of the times and occasions of European- Indian contact, we know approximately when the tale was in-



troduced and the period of time during which changes were made. A recent study (Dundes 1965c) demonstrates how the Potawatomi converted a French version of Aarne- Thompson 569, The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn, into a veritable verbal weapon of social protest against the dominant Euro pean culture. Although Thompson was not the first to identify European tales in the New World Lehmann-Nitsche presented a paper in 1904 on European tales among the Araucanian Indians, it was he who stimulated the subsequent research. Even the identification of African tale types among the American Indians (Dundes 1965a) is essentially in the tradition initiated by Thompson. In 1914, the same year that Thompson completed his dissertation at Har vard, another important dissertation dealing with American Indian folklore was completed at Columbia University under the direction of Franz Boas. Thomas T. Waterman's extensive examination of the nature of the expla natory motif in American Indian tales demonstrated the nonessential or optional nature of these stylistic elements. Waterman, however, failed to observe that the explanatory motif is more often than not a terminal mar ker or literary coda (Dundes 1964c : 67-68). The following year in 1915, Paul Radin published the first of what was to be a life-long series of essays in anthropological literary criticism. Among the significant insights contained in Literary Aspects of North American Mythology is Radin's discussion of plot elaboration as one of five elements contributing to what he termed a myth-complex. (The other four are : the dramatis personae, the episodes, the motivation of the episodes, and the motifs.) According to Radin (1915 : 9), a plot action is elaborated or a s equence of events is brought about (1) by the actions of the actors themselves without the intermediation of a figure foretelling the various episodes ; or (2) it is outlined beforehand by some individuals and the episodes appear in full after that ; or (3) the plot is developed by means of a dialogue. Rad in's delineation of modes of folkloristic discourse is clearly applicable to non-American Indian materials as well. Radin failed to see that the dicho tomy between reportorial narrative and dialogue is a fundamental one found in a variety of genres. A joke, for example, may be told in third person, reporforial style, or it may be told via dialogue. Similarly, there are dialogue ballads as opposed to narrative ballads, dialogue riddles and proverbs as opposed to narrative or descriptive riddles and proverbs (cf. Taylor 1953). Radin was also interested in genre theory and he wrestled with the thorny question of prose narrative genres in his 1926 article Literary Aspects of Winnebago Mythology . Radin's literary bias continued as he insisted upon using the term epic for his long extended Winnebago narratives (1954, 1956a). Similarly The Trickster (1956b), a popular reprinting of his earlier Winnebago Hero Cycles (1948), one of the standard works on this character istic figure of American Indian oral literature, emphasizes the literary ra ther than the ritual or religious facets of the trickster (Hultkrantz 1965 : 103 ; Ricketts 1966).



In 1916, the year- after Radin's Literary Aspects of North American Mytho^ logy appeared, Franz Boas published, his monumental Tsimshian Mythology, This is one oi the single most influential pieces of American Indian folklore scholarship. In this one thousand page monster monograph, Boas presents a giant corpus of Tsimshian myths and tales followed by a section (pp. 393477) entitled Description of the Tsimshian, based on their mythology . This is a clearcut demonstration of what might be termed the culture re flector theory of folklore and its accompanying methodology. Boas con sidered the folklore of a culture as a kind of autobiographical ethnography. From the folklore, one could glean various ethnographic facts and with the advantage that they were originally recorded by the people themsejves and were thus free from the usual bias found in ethnographic reports made by ethnocentric outsiders /visitors to the culture. However, Boas did not neglect the comparative approach. In another section of this classic work (pp. 565-871), entitled Comparative Study of Tsimshian Mythology , Boas laboriously compared each Tsimshian narrative with the materials collected from other peoples of the North Pacific coast. In one appendix (Appendix II, pp. 936-958), Boas gives a Summary of Comparisons which is essentially like a tale type or motif index. In another (Appendix V, pp. 980-1037) en titled Index to References , Boas gives an episode-by-episode breakdown of the contents of many of the collections he utilized for comparisons. Needless to say, no work on American Indian folklore of greater or even equal scope has ever appeared. The cultural reflector approach was again employed by Boas some years later in his Kwakiutl Culture as Reflected in Mythology (1935). In this monog raph, Boas included a section comparing Kwakiutl and Tsimshian culture on the basis of their folkloristically derived ethnographies which was a novel me thodological innovation unfortunately not duplicated since. Continuations of the culture reflector technique were made by Benedict fortheZuni (1935), Ehrlich for the Crow (1937), Reichard for the Cur D'Alne (1947 : 36-53), Spencer for the Navaho (1947, 1957) and Stern for the Klamath (1963) among others. The practice of picking out ethnographic data from folklore has been applied to African (Efik) materials by Simmons who, however, has summar ized the methodological objections to this over-simplified method based upon the false notion that folklore mirrored culture on a literal one-to-one basis (1961 : 136-140). Benedict, of course, in the important Introduction to her study of Zuni mythology had begun to realize that sometimes the folklore may contain the opposite (cf. Boas 1916 : 880) of -the ethnogra phic Folklore began to be recognized as a vehicle for the expression facts. of behavioral ideals and for the. expression of wish and wish fulfillment rather than just as a rigid reflector of reality. The ever so slight influence of psychiatric insights began to cause some dissatisfaction with the culture reflector theory. In the 1920's, the role of the individual narrator began to be explored. First of all, the range of va riation of the same tale in a culture (e.g., Goldfrank 1926) was investigated



and eventually it was discovered that the degree of variation in tale telling was in part a matter of cultural determinism (Edel 1944 ; cf. Reichard 1944). However, more recent studies of variation have been correlated with the personalities and proclivities of individual narrators (Stern 1956 ; Boyer 1964). In one sense, the culture reflector approach has partially yielded to an individual reflector approach. One of the next landmarks in North American Indian folklore scholar ship the publication of Tales of the North American Indians by Stith was Thompson in 1929 (which happily was reprinted in 1966). In this antho logyof some ninety-six tales taken from various ethnographic and folkloristic sources, Thompson included as many as nineteen which were Euro pean or Bible tales, thus continuing his interest in this area of research. But the most important part of the book is the Comparative Notes sec tion (pp. 271-360) which reflected the fruits of many years' work. Thompson listed parallels to all of the motifs contained in the anthology. (Although the first edition of Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk Literature did not begin to appear until 1932, Thompson did also provide a list of motif numbers (pp. 361-367). These 308 notes represent the major source of parallels so necessary for the comparative study of folklore. Thompson did not regard the list of parallels as complete, but said (1929 : 272) he hoped that it would prove of value to the future editor of the much needed concordance of American Indian tales (cf. Swanton 1907). The accumulation of lists of parallels for comparative studies and the attempt to classify American Indian narrative materials have not progressed appreciably since 1929. What work has been done is invariably limited to one Indian group or one culture area. Thus the specialist in North American Indian folklore must resort to a small group of specialized studies in addi tion to Thompson's valuable 1929 notes. Eskimo folklore boasts two un published indexes, one by Winger (1930) and one by Essene (1947). For North westCoast parallels, Boas's (1916) Tsimshian Mythology remains the maj or source. For the Plateau area, there are the comparisons in Reichard (1947) and a useful source for Basin materials in Smith's unpublished doctoral dis sertation (1940). In California, there is Gayton's excellent survey article Areal Affiliations of California Folktales (1935) and the equally excel lent comparative notes to Gayton and Newman's Yokuts and Western Mono Myths (1940). Still another source for California comparisons is Holt's (1942) doctoral dissertation on the relations of Shasta folklore. In the southwest, David French's 1940 M.A. thesis at Claremont provides an index to most of the Apache materials and it was fortunately published as an appendix to Opler's Myths and Tales of the Chiricahua Apache Indians (1942). Moving eastward, one has Fisher's fine survey for Algonkian materials as well as Welpley's unpublished Cre concordance (1932) and Hallowell's concor dance of Schoolcraft's Ojibwa tales (1946). For southeastern American In dian folklore, there are Swanton's fine comparative notes in his Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians (1929). As one can see, some areas are less



well covered than others. Plains Indian material, for example, is not well indexed and it is necessary to consult the limited notes to the standard col lections from that area. In 1951, Remedios S. Wycoco completed her doctoral dissertation, The Types of North- American Indian Tales , at Indiana University. Using Thomps on's comparative notes in his 1929 Tales of the North American Indians as a point of departure, Wycoco identified more than three hundred tale types. Unfortunately, her failure to examine all of the many collections of tales published since Thompson's notes none of the collections of Melville Jacobs were consulted, for example, and the lack of a catchword index like the Finding Guide for American Indian Tales designed to locate tales published in the Journal of American Folklore (Coffin 1958 : 247) minimize the utility of the index. However, the Wycoco index is an additional source for the prospective comparativist besides the notes in Thompson's Tales of the North American Indians and the selected regional surveys. One of the principal functions of a tale type index or of a list of parallels is to encourage comparative studies of individual tales. There have been a number of such studies of American Indian tale or myth types. Included among the most comprehensive are Stith Thompson's historic-geographic (1953) study of Star Husband which was a reworking of an M.A. thesis by one of his students, Hultkrantz's extended analysis of Orpheus (1957), and Wheeler-Voegelin and Moore's study of the Emergence Myth (1957). Other narratives analyzed in some detail are Loon Woman (Demetracopoulou 1933), Trickster Marries His Daughter (Schmerler, 1931), and the Origin of Death (Dangel 1928 ; cf. Boas 1917, Hultkrantz 1955). (For references to other monographic studies of American Indian narratives, many of which studies are theses and dissertations, see Dundes 1963 and Dockstader.) One of the more recent trends in American Indian folklore scholarship concerns the study of style. In 1947, Reichard, who had previously (1944) demonstrated an interest in style, published an analysis of Cur d'Alne narratives and she included a section on style (1947 : 5-35). In describing some of the stylistic features, e.g., the characterization and the linguistic peculiarities of individual dramatis personae, Reichard was working in the tradition of Boas and Radin. Other studies of style have appeared (e.g. Shimkin), but by far the most important was Melville Jacob's The Content and Style of an Oral Literature in 1959. In this and the sequel volume, The People Are Coming Soon, published a year later, Jacobs sought to reconstruct the cultural context and significance of the narratives of one group, the Clackamas Chinook. It was too bad that Jacobs chose a truly moribund culture as his subject and that so much of his anthropological literary cr iticism is largely educated guesswork. Since the death of his single informant, a highly acculturated old woman, there is no way to verify the various in terpretations of the tales which Jacobs presents. However, despite the i ndisputable weaknesses in Jacobs' methods (Liljeblad 1962, Hymes 1965), the kinds of questions he raises provide an excellent model for future in-



vestigations of the folklore of American Indians or of any group for that matter. One of the controversial aspects of Jacobs' approach is his reliance upon psychological interpretations. His paper Psychological Inferences from a Chinook Myth (1952) reflects one of the new trends in folklore research. Among other psychological studies of American Indian folklore are ones of the Nunivak Eskimo (Lantis), the Chippewa (Barnouw) and the Nez Perc (Skeels). These studies by fieldworkers are apt to be sounder than the all too common armchair Freudian or Jimgian analyses. (One may compare Roheim's doctrinaire Freudian analysis of the trickster figure as id (1952) with Jung's essay on the trickster figure appended to Radin's study of the trickster (1956).) While there continue to be psychological studies of indi vidual myths, e.g., the earth-diver creation myth (Dundes 1962), perhaps the most important psychological studies of American Indian folklore have been made by psychologists and psychiatrists who unlike their predecessors are going into the field themselves. Kaplan's (1962) comparison of the themes of Zuni mythology with the stories obtained from Thematic Apperception Tests (T.A.T.'s) administered to Zuni subjects and psychiatrist Bryce Boyer's analysis of Apache narratives he collected himself (1964) point the way to wards more sophisticated and rigorous investigation of folklore as a native projective system. Still another recent development in the study of American Indian folklore has been in the area of structural analysis. Lvi-Strauss's provocative 1955 paper on the structural analysis of myth utilized illustrative American In dian narrative materials and his later study of a Tsimshian narrative (1958) and of Winnebago myths (1960) continued his work. In his brilliant analysis of the Tsimshian narrative of Asdiwal, Lvi-Strauss attempts to relate the structure of the world described in the narrative to a variety of fundamental themes in the culture. Analyzing the structure of the narrative rather than the structure of the world described in a narrative, Dundes has delineated some of the basic structural patterns of North American Indian tales (1964c). The future of American Indian folklore research Despite the considerable amount of American Indian folklore scholarship and the recent emphases in studies of style, structure and psychology, the future of American Indian folklore studies is not bright. While Boas and his students were greatly interested in folklore, Boas's students' students are not. This coupled with the immense improvements in transportation has led American anthropologists to seek fieldwork experiences in other corners of the globe. The relative abandonment of the American Indian by anthropologists and the continued decline and deculturation of many In dians suggest that the collection and the analysis of fresh field-gathered materials are becoming more and more rare and unlikely. Surely there will continue to be memory culture for many generations to come and thus there



will be ample opportunity for salvage folklore (as in salvage archaeology). However, with the exception of those forms encouraged by pan-Indianism, e.g., music and dance, and a few new forms, e.g., Peyote jokes (Howard 1962), occasions for the observation of folklore in context appear to be de creasing in number. No doubt there will always be a few scholars whose area of specialization is American Indian folklore, but the heyday of American Indian studies generally and of American Indian folklore studies in parti cular seems to be nearly over.

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