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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Shelter in Place - week 2: Cornplanter/Canfield - The Origin of the Violet - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Last week I showed my "Beast" a.k.a. "Malamutt", but, now that grass is again started to grow, he's also a "Malamoot" enjoying the pleasure of something fresh and growing.  Similarly, since walking him is allowed under Shelter in Place, I've seen something else that is wild, starting to grow, and that people can eat . . . violets.  What you didn't know that?  Grab a copy of Stalking the Wild Asparagus by that long ago forager, Euell Gibbons.  That was the first of his efforts towards showing the bounty of wild plants that grow without people doing anything more than knowing what is edible.  I learned long ago that violets taste like the sweetest of lettuce.  Can't say I ever went to the bother of harvesting those flowers and making jam from it, but was delighted to see them popping up at the edge of wooded areas.  If you decide to try them, be sure you don't take them roots and all so they can recover.

Just as those dog walks and food are needed, stories are, too.  Earlier this year on February 1, 2020 a story, "The First Winter", from The Legends of the Iroquois, officially listed as being written by William W. Canfield, but he attributes the source to "The Cornplanter", a Seneca chief who died in 1836.  We certainly hope Winter (and our reason for Shelter in Place) is going to end as soon as possible.  From that same book comes today's story about "The Origin of the Violet."

The story includes a young Iroquois warrior falling in love with a maiden from an enemy tribe.  Right about there I can just picture the story being told backed by the Native American flute.  Back in December of 2016 I devoted three weeks to the Native American flute.  It traditionally is believed to have originated as a means of courting, so I can picture it for part of this story, but the story is filled with adventure and so much more.  The Native American flute may have started with courting, but what it can play is limited only by the person playing it, so the other parts can give the animals, battles, and elements I don't want to give away.  Let the story form a soundtrack in your mind, changing as the story changes.

For a graphic to open the story, I want to add this page from a 1906 dictionary owned by Julie J. who offers many wonderful Public Domain images on her website.  This graphic from her gives flowers for every month.  March is the violet and I did indeed start seeing it on March 30th and April's showers will help them grow.
I'm sure you always wash your produce, but doing it in vinegar is both cleansing and a bit of salad dressing.  Now may this bit of spring brighten your own time to Shelter in Place.
Also from
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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