Tell me if you have a topic you'd like to see. (Contact: .)
Please also let others know about this site.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Copway - How the Water Lily Came - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I love to take my husky/malamute (I lovingly call him a Malamutt!) out for long walks in local parks.  Horse trails are particularly good and a nearly unknown gem among the Oakland County Parks is  Rose Oaks out in Rose Township.  With all the rain I usually wouldn't go there, but earlier this week I put on my muck boots and headed out.  What a treat!  I remembered the lake, but don't recall the lovely section that formed a smaller pond with many lovely water lilies.  I also watched a heron and a crane in the distance.  I'm no photographer so that photo came from a site I'll mention later, but it comes the closest to looking like what I saw.

Those water lilies made me hunt for an Anishinaabe story I've never told, but remembered.  Was sure it was collected by Schoolcraft . . . nope.  Looked online and found the only version of it at the site I will mention in a bit.  Turns out there are "any of 58 species in 6 genera of freshwater plants native to the temperate and tropical parts of the world" according to in the scientific family Nymphaeaceae.  Wikipedia disagrees and claims 70 known species as of a 2018 source with only 5 genera.  I'll leave it to the scientists to argue about that.

Fortunately the original story was easily found in the original  Index to Fairy Tales Myths and Legends .  That old 1915 reference book by Mary Huse Eastman continues in value, helping find wonderful stories now safely in the Public Domain.  Looking under Water Lily the searcher is sent to the story of "The Star Maiden" and I remembered the picture book version retelling by Barbara Juster Esbensen with beautiful illustrations by Helen K. Davie.  I don't own the book and don't know how much the story's "retelling" changes it, but the Index gave many books and Mary Catherine Judd's Wigwam Stories always gave her sources and this one helped me find "the first published history of the Ojibwa in English."  It seems that George Copway, or Kah-Ge-Ga-Gah-Bowh meaning "He Who Stands Forever" was "Canada's first literary celebrity in the United States."  This was before Canada in the 1980s adopted the term "First Nations", but Michigan's Native People, the Anishinaabe are on both sides of the border.

George Copway, or Kah-Ge-Ga-Gah-Bowh may not be as lovely as the Star Maiden, but "He Who Stands Forever" has given us a memorable story.

Water Lily by Jay Castor on
The pond photo at the start of today's story came from Dibaajimowin, a site I recommend you prowl for stories from modern day Ojibwe and Metis and on you will find yet another retelling of the story.

Ojibwe elder and author, Simon Otto, was one of my mentors and I'm proud that he called me "negee" or "friend."  He didn't write about the Star Maiden, but in the preface to his Walk in Peace; Legends and Stories of the Michigan Indians he said his stories were from his own memories and he respected "all versions of the same basic legend themes and does not intend that only his stories be rigidly authentic.  Legends grow from different circumstances and are told in highly personal styles.  There are many varied tribal dialects in the Indian language.  Moreover, the legends and stories differ in detail but concur, generally.  That the legend itself can enhance the teaching of Native American culture, is of the greater importance."  Simon has left us to go on the Long Walk, but he often ended his storytelling with the phrase, "Walk in Peace", and it certainly was his desire in his many books.  I can hope you have a chance to appreciate his work and "the teaching of Native American culture."  I'm sure George Copway or "He Who Stands Forever" would agree.
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!

No comments: