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Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Most Important Story

Of all the stories this storyteller could tell, this is the most important. . .

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.
~ Clarence W. Hall

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Schoolcraft - Peboan and Seegwun (take 2 & call me in the morning) - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Have you ever felt so awful you didn't think you could fight your way out of a paper bag...

Germs are so sneaky.  I ate some leftovers from my husband and then the next day he came down with a cold.  Guess what?  Yup, I have it now, too.  It started to tease me Wednesday night and then began getting more obvious on Thursday.  Now? 

Can't begin to do justice to posting anything, but have a story I was able to croak out on Thursday and did a search here.  Yep, posted it here March 28, 2015.  Wasn't going to repeat it, but I felt better then.  Some people advise re-posting some of your better or more important posts.  Don't plan to do that after all the years I've been doing this, but today it seems like a good idea.

Here are a few reasons why besides the way I feel:
  • It's a great story and I realized after telling it and giving the names in Anishinaabe and saying my pronunciation might be off, I should have told the story and then asked the class if they knew who Peboan and Seegwun were.  (The names mean Winter and Spring.)  Here's a quick beginner Anishinaabe dictionary, complete with pronunciation guide.  You will notice a difference in spelling as the language varies with local dialects because no standard writing system represents all and none is primary.  I could say more, but right now doubt it would interest you unless you're really into linguistics.  I have one friend who is into linguistics, so I would gladly give her other resources.  I have friends here in Michigan who are People of the Three Fires and they love their native language and are far better at it than I will ever be as a "Long knife."  Suffice it to say the language's complexity rivals Russian and I remember an elder working on her doctorate grumbling about having to learn yet another language.
  • The end of this posting includes reasons why it deserves attention in Women's History month.
  • Don't remember what else...I told you I wasn't functioning normally.  Just know that much of the country is still experiencing winter no matter what the foolish Groundhog predicted and the calendar claims we entered spring this past week.  Saw robins twice this past week, but then every year I see a few sitting in the snow.  Soon sneezes and sniffles and congestion will be due to spring allergens.
LoiS(pring...what a concept!)

It's been a busy week here at Lake Wobegon -- Woops! that's Garrison Keillor's great introduction to the news from his fictional town.  Still it has been a busy week of storytelling and beyond, so I thought I'd just give a very short Anishinaabe tale about how the weather is here in Michigan at this time.  I will, but typical of Storytelling + Research = LoiS it led to some interesting research after the story.  (Wish I'd known those symbols couldn't become part of the website address when I titled this blog!)

For a family literacy event completing March Reading Month I included this story.

That comes from the 1856 book originally published in 1839 under the authorship of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft as The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians and easily found on Project Gutenberg.  Also there is the bit more approachable title of "The Winter Spirit and His Visitor" in his 1916 The Indian Fairy Book , which has revisions and new colored illustrations.  In that revised and republished book I found it interesting the Foreword claims, "Mr. Schoolcraft listened and wrote the stories down, just as he heard them."  By then his first wife, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, had died back in 1842.  Searching for more on the story Henry isn't listed at all, but her portrait came up on the site,
as well as the statement "In this case the storyteller Schoolcraft is translating is her mother Ozhaguscodaywayquay."  Homestead also gives a picture of a winter lodge, which looks rather like a tipi made of small logs and branches, and the flower H.R.S. identifies as the Miskodeed or Claytonia Virginica, commonly called Spring Beauty.

So did the man whose name is honored here in Michigan in both an Upper Peninsula county and a metro Detroit college provide enough to the stories to be called the author of the books?  Surely his wife's contribution is obvious, but a 2008 book edited by Robert Dale Parker published all her writings, including poetry.

The title, by the way, The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky, is her Anishinaabe name.  I've also seen her Anglicized name as Susan.

A beautiful 1993 picture book of the story by illustrator, Charles Larry, was reviewed by both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly as a riddle/myth.  It's definitely a myth, but the identification of Winter and Spring doesn't have to wait until the end.  (Even H.R. Schoolcraft identifies it in the title as an allegory of the two.)  In a Goodreads review by Kristin the story is faulted for it's lack of action.  Universally the illustrations are praised even by Kristin, but as Publishers Weekly notes, there's certainly "vivid language."

Those of us experiencing this time of seasonal transition can certainly appreciate the way Winter tries to stay, but we trust Spring will eventually take over.

Too often this area's Native contribution is overlooked when considering Native Americans. As a result I was delighted to find the Charles Larry book included in Karri Smith's Mini-Unit on Native Americans aimed at First Graders.

As the Farmer’s Almanac says: it’s easy to understand the draw of the Ojibwe’s more poetic explanation. After all, even today, we still talk about 'Old Man Winter.'

I would add that the information on Jane Johnston Schoolcraft is also appropriate as we come to the end of Women's History Month.
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 stories.  

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.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!