Earlier this month I mentioned the Perseid Meteor Showers or "shooting stars" when talking about Orion and Mara L. Pratt's book, The Storyland of Stars. Unfortunately her coverage of the August "shower" is more factual than story.
At the back of my mind was a story found in both Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's Algic Researches (published in two volumes in 1839 and again in his The Myth of Hiawatha, and other Oral Legends
(published in 1856) about a family that began with female stars coming down to earth. "The
Star Family or Celestial Sisters" is an interesting story, but unfortunately it's
also an example of 19th century language needing to be brought alive when
re-telling it. I also noticed that, unlike the various stories I
usually think about from Schoolcraft, this is not from the people of
our region. The story is from the Shawnee,
and like Michigan's Anishinaabe, they are an Algonquian speaking people, but they
suffered through the Indian Removals of the 1830s. That overlapped
some of the time when Schoolcraft was an Indian Agent. Because his
wife, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft helped him learn both Algonquian languages and lore, this story probably included her influence even though it isn't an Anishinaabe tale.
I've chosen the later version, but I think you'll see what I mean about some of the language. Don't let it keep you from enjoying a lovely pourquois tale and looking up for a stray shooting star.
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in
Public Domain." The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our
cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were
compensated. I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent
on works of the 20th century. My own library of folklore includes
so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from
them. I hope you enjoy discovering new
At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly
creates projects requiring
research as part of my
sharing stories with an audience. Whenever that research needs to be
shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that
week. This is a return to my regular posting of a
research project here. (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my
research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)
Response has convinced me that "Keeping the
Public in Public Domain" should continue along with
my other postings as often as I can manage it.
There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for
folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection. I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so. Have fun discovering even more stories!
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