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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Holbrook - How Raven Helped Men - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Raven is a folklore figure we don't know well in the midwest...our loss! 

Raven was the benefactor of the earliest people along the shores of the Pacific Northwest, but he was a trickster.  That makes an interesting combination.  He's often called "Raven-Who-Makes-Things-Right", but his clever ways of doing it match the intelligence of the real bird.

I confess I was able to find nothing about the image of Raven I use to open today's story, but the color in it, along with its style, match both the story and the look of Raven on the many totem poles in his home area along the northwestern coast of the U.S. and Canada and it led me to choose it.  His images are often anonymous folk art.  If there's an artist wishing credit, I apologize and will gladly add it.  (How Raven-like to act first and then deal with the consequences!  A bad influence?  Some might say so.)

Ravens may talk...they do.  This Wikipedia article talks about the "Common" Raven --"common" --  hmph!  Their intelligence and ability to mimic human speech is only part of the article, be sure to read the section on that, as well as the part about their relationship with humans.

Enough talking.  

(I had to snicker a bit when I came to the part about Eagle talking about People not knowing enough to know when to go to sleep and when to get up.  This is the weekend most of the Americas switch to Daylight Saving Time and I always find it so hard to "spring forward."  Eagle was right about me, I have a hard time going to sleep even without a time change and would even if I had two moons.)

Remember I said I intentionally chose a colorful Raven?  Some versions of the story tell us Raven's feathers turned black from being burned when he carried the sun and fire.

Before finding this story I loved Gerald McDermott's Caldecott Honor Award-winning book, Raven, but now appreciate the source of his tale even more.  I can understand his simplification of it to just the stealing of the sun -- and avoiding the relationship with Eagle's daughter -- but it's again one of those great opportunities to "compare and contrast."
I should probably mention here an online source of Native American tales.  Go to where you will find it as "How Raven Helped the Ancient People."  Yet another item for the "compare and contrast" possibilities.

Just today I was talking with some friends about the collective names for specific animals.  You may have heard about "a murder of crows."  We went looking to find the name for a group of ravens.  It turned out to be "an unkindness of ravens."  Some may find the mythological Raven at times unkind, but certainly not when he was helping people.

Today's story came from a book I've long wanted and am delighted now to add it to my collection.  Sometimes reprints are less than their original, but the version I have from Applewood Books is carefully done and I need to prowl their catalog.  There are many other stories in Florence Holbrook's The Book of Nature Myths for Children appropriate for the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme of "A Universe of Stories" used by many libraries this year, so I recommend it to others seeking material for the theme.

Back on February 9 I began listing many Public Domain stories matching "A Universe of Stories."  So many people all over the world have created pourquois tales to explain what we see in the sky.  It has been fun, but I want to move on to some other storytelling topics so next week I'll try to wrap this up with some of the shorter miscellaneous ideas I've found.

As I said, I have wanted the book that was the source for today's tale for a long time and not just for the CSLP, so I'm sure I'll return to Ms. Holbrook in the future for other nature stories.  This 1902 book deserves to be kept for the "Public in Public Domain."
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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
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!

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