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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Parker - The Rainmaker Wirinun - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

'Entire Species Are Being Wiped Out' Ecologists Say Half a Billion May Have Been Killed
As of January 23, 2020 when a crash killed three Americans battling the Australian wildfires, CBS News reported:
The tragedy brings the death toll from the blazes to at least 31 since September. The wildfires have also destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 25 million acres, an area bigger than Indiana. 
(New South Wales Premier Gladys) Berejiklian said there were more than 1,700 volunteers and personnel in the field, and five fires were being described at an "emergency warning" level - the most dangerous on a three-tier scale - across the state and on the fringes of the nation's capital, Canberra.
The Reuters news service said the wildfires have killed an estimated billion animals.
On my Facebook page (open for viewing to the public) I've posted about the matching funds being raised by the American Veterinary Medical Association to help Australian veterinarians helping animals in the fire.  I featured that because the species in Australia are unique and in danger of extinction from the wildfires.  Food is also being airdropped for animals surviving the fire but losing their natural food supplies.

Yes, people help and they need help too.  You can guarantee assistance through religious relief groups, including the Salvation Army of Australia (nicknamed the Salvos in Australian English), who are doing an excellent job of detailing the ongoing work of their Disaster Relief Team, or the international Red Cross is an option through Australian Red Cross' Disaster Relief and Recovery

The classic Public Domain Australian Aboriginal stories are found in the 1896 collection by K. Langloh Parker in Australian Legendary Tales.  That link to the Wikipedia article on it does a good job of reviewing the book's Victorian colonial shortcomings and its more favorable view of her methods which she defended by saying:
I am very careful to get them as truly as I can—first I get an old black to tell it in his own language—he probably has little English—I get a younger one to tell it back to him in his language he corrects what is wrong—then I get the other one to tell it to me in English—I write it down, read it and tell it back again to the old fellow with the help of the medium, for though I have a fair grasp of their language I could not in a thing like this trust to my knowledge entirely.
Parker grew up on a northern New South Wales station (prime territory for the current fires although they are widespread throughout the continent) and she is believed to have developed an early affection and interest in Aboriginal culture after being saved from drowning at age six by an Aboriginal girl.

The Euahlayi people, of whom Parker writes have their own language and names for things and people.  At the risk of delaying their story, I will give this "glossary", but you may use it later or when you wish.  Because the language at the time Parker wrote was taken from oral language without a standardized written spelling, occasionally an alternative is given parenthetically.  Parker sometimes also inserts the meaning within the story.  The chant within the story is not explained.  I'll let the pronunciation guide wait until the end.

Glossary in order the words appear in the story as given by Parker

wirinun (wirreenun): literal meaning "clever-man"; medicine man; sorcerer; a fully initiated man; a learned person
dardur(r): bark humpy or shelter
humpies: not defined in the glossary, but the previous word explains it's a shelter
Noonga(h)-burra(h): tribe of blacks on the Narran River; belonging to the Nooga(h) country
Narran (Narrin): name of river
wilgu-wilgu (willgoo-willgoo, wilgoo-wilgoo): painted stick with feathers on top
gubbera(h): clear magic stone; crystal
waywa(h): belts worn by men, consisting of a waistband of opossum's sinews, with bunches of strips of paddymelon skins hanging from them
corroboree (corrobboree): aborigines' dance
Bora (Borah, Boorah): sacred initiation rites and ceremonies
Baiame (Byamee): literal meaning, "Great One"; culture hero or god; creator
goodoo: codfish
murree: species of fish; the swift-to-hunt-game
tukki (tucki): fish, a species of bream
bunmilla(h): a fish

Certainly rain is needed to help, but the drought preceding the wildfires was frequently set ablaze by lightning.  The high volatility of the oil in Australia's Eucalyptus, which forms three quarters of its forests, also has an adaptation to fire, regenerating from buds deep inside its thick bark.

Since eucalyptus leaves form the bulk of a koala's diet, I'm hopeful especially after reading how places that had the fires back in September have already begun to rejuvenate.

If you wish to read even more from Australian Legendary Tales it's available at Project Gutenberg because it's Public Domain.  By the way, when re-published in 1953, it was chosen by the Children's Book Council of Australia as "Book of the Year" for 1954.
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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