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Tales of the North American Indians (Native American) Paperback – October 27, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This is a book of interest not only to the student of folklore, but to the general reader as well, because the tales are both interesting in themselves and indigenous to our 'native Americans.' --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Native American
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (November 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486411311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486411316
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,599,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Though originally published in 1929, and reissued once before in 1966 by Indiana Press, I'm glad Dover has made this important collection available again: it's still one of the best, most comprehensive, and best annotated selection of Indian folktales ever published. Stith Thompson, world famous as the master-mind behind the 6-volume MOTIF-INDEX OF FOLK LITERATURE, a major research tool in the field, culled just about all the available literature dealing with North American Indian folklore in compiling this selection of the most representative tales of all the tribes. Although the tribes have long been grouped by regions (Northeast, Central Woodland, Southwest, North Pacific, etc.), Thompson arranges the tales by types and not by location or by tribe. He groups the tales into seven categories (plus one additional grouping of miscellaneous tales): mythological stories, mythic incidents, trickster tales, hero tales, journeys to the other world, animal spouses, and tales borrowed from Europeans. Thompson has found that some types of tales are more common to some regions (and tribes) - trickster tales, for example, with the Plains and Woodland tribes as well as animal stories in the Southeast and hero stories in the Northeast. All the tales are thoroughly annotated (308 detailed footnotes accompany 96 tales). The 90-page section of comparative notes might be the most impressive section for scholars, though the listing, massive as it is, probably represents only a fraction of what's been published since. There is also a lengthy bibliography and Thompson's own application of his useful Motif-Index. This book is a major publication in the field of North American Indian folklore, and anyone interested in the subject should read (and own) this work. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
A brief introduction is followed by well-presented samples representing the different major folktales of the North American Indians, including tales borrowed from European- or African-Americans. Probably the most valuable part of the volume, though, at least for scholars, is in the 90 pages of comparative notes, sketching the distributions of particular motifs throughout the continent and beyond. Although dated now (first published in 1929) and perhaps inevitably incomplete even as of that date, this section provides fascinating insights into the extent and patterns of interaction between various Native American cultures.
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