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Friday, January 29, 2021

Skinner - The Ice King - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

We're firmly in the grip of winter.  Michiganders used to say our mitten-shaped state had two seasons: Winter and Construction.  Nowadays even winter sees construction, so that saying would sound as if it's always winter. What a horrible thought!  Today's story talks about fighting back.  Ada and Eleanor Skinner only call it an "Indian Legend."  Even their Acknowledgements give no hint of its source.  The clue is the story talks about living in wigwams through the winter.  That Wikipedia link places the word as Algonquian, but the language group includes a lot of nations in both the U.S. and Canada.  The pronunciation, however, makes it either Abenaki or here in Michigan and nearby Canada with the Anishinaabe.  It comes quite close to a tale I love in the spring and have given here, "Peboan and Seegwun", (also told by Arthur C. Parker in his Seneca Myths and Folk Tales as "The Coming of Spring").  Those were posted here earlier.  

This is not quite the same tale, but very similar.  In the spirit of fighting back the miseries of winter, I appreciate "The Ice King" from the Skinner sisters', The Pearl Story Book: Stories & Legends of Winter, Christmas & New Year's day.  That link lets you read more in this timely book at

Here's a glimpse of a wigwam in winter at Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan.  For my Michigan readers, they have 19 miles of trails and the Nature Center is open with Covid compliance.  They are currently recovering from the dam break this past year, but now it doesn't affect their operations, so you may still enjoy it.

Let's gather around the fire for today's story.

Lacking someone as courageous and smart as the story's hunter, let us count on winter lasting only for three months, or at least not daring to "reign throughout the year."

Stay warm.  Stay safe.  Keep enjoying stories and nature!


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 the late 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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