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Friday, December 31, 2021

Call it "Character", "Values", "New Year's Resolutions"...WHATEVER!

J.P.Morgan's quote from Country Living's 62 Best New Year Quotes 2022

 The change of year is a time for other changes.  New Year's resolutions are all about changing for the better.  Storytelling can offer a way of noticing needed changes.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or storyteller asked to tell about a particular behavioral topic, using stories to teach and change is an old, old, very old technique.  Whoever Aesop may have been, his fables, or the Jataka tales about Buddha, or the parables of Jesus, all used story to teach and encourage change.  Only over-familiarity or efforts to keep religion out of teaching might make some avoid the Bible or other long-standing cultural resources.  Folklore tends to be a resource more likely to help when those resources can't be used.

Does that mean folktales are never "preachy"?


Delivery of a story can "telegraph" intent, leading the listener to reject the storyteller's purpose.  Let the story stand on its own merit, following along with the characters as they try different options.

If a story is believable within the limits of its world with lively characters and an interesting plot, it may resonate, coming back to the listener as needed.  Reading a story may work, but the direct delivery of a story to a listener makes it personal. 

What about analyzing the story?

Too often this can feel like tearing off the wings of a butterfly to understand it better.  If it must happen to satisfy curriculum needs or other purposes, at least let it happen after the story has ended.

It's perfectly reasonable after the story, if you must analyze it to wait until later and ask "Why?", letting the listener explain what happened.

Stepping back a bit to Aesop, some believe the moral of a tale should never be stated.  An obviously well-known moral, "Slow and steady wins the race" for the story of the "Tortoise and the Hare" is a perfect example.  First of all the translation may word it differently, but more importantly asking "What is the story trying to teach us?" might give a different answer that is also valid.  Not asking might let the tale ferment within the listener to produce what needs to be learned

Let the story sit and work its results over time.  It may come during the telling, but it may not happen until later when the storyteller is gone.  

What about tricksters or bad behavior?

Trickster characters often exist to show what not to do and may receive appropriate punishment.  Think of Coyote when he's only looking out for himself.  Does he succeed?  It's extremely rare for a folktale to let bad behavior go unpunished or, at the very least, not serve as a warning.  That's why "Little Red Riding Hood" was called a "Cautionary Tale."

What about resources to find the story fitting the needed change?

Near the end of the Twentieth Century this need for "Character education" using stories was once again starting to be noticed.  I say "once again" as it's funny to realize this discovery comes around periodically.  When storytelling began being noticed in schools and libraries at the start of the Twentieth Century and on through the days of the one-room school, this resource was popular.  

For example you can find on Internet Archive from the Oregon Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Julius Alonzo Churchill produced a 15 page booklet, "Moral instruction in the public schools through the story", recommending:

The following books will be found helpful to the teacher:
83 Bailey. For the story teller.
85 Bryant. How to tell stories to children.
87 Gather. Educating by story telling.
104 Brownlee. Character building in school.
105 Cabot. A course in citizenship.
106 Cabot. Ethics for children. 110 Dewey. Lessons on morals.
1693 Engleman. Moral education in school and home. Bryant. Moral and religious education. Haviland. Character training in childhood. Sneath & Hodges. Moral training in the school and home.

The numbering or lack of it was based on their state library collection.  I have given any online links, preferring Project Gutenberg when available. Churchill omits some some possibly helpful subtitles: for Cabot's Ethics for Children,  add "A Guide for Teachers and Parents"; for Dewey's Lessons on morals add "Arranged for Grammar Schools, High Schools and Academies"; for Sneath & Hodges' "Moral training in the school and home" add "A Manual for Teachers and Parents."  With homeschooling parents this can help identify resources not overly academic.

Since all but one of those books is available online, they are a quick guide to Public Domain material that need not be purchased.

The little Oregon booklet is mainly a bibliography listing stories, with grade level suggestions, of topics that were of concern to teachers.  Beyond the educational books already listed, the titles, with their authors, are usually fairly standard Public Domain works like the Gelett Burgess book about Goops and How to Be Them or the sequel, More Goops -- they may be old fashioned, but there's lots of humor and gold in them leading the Goops to be favorite memories with people looking back to when they might have needed "A Manual of Manners for Impolite Infants" as the sequel's subtitle adds.  Another Burgess, Thornton, is sometimes listed with his Mother West Wind stories.  An elderly woman once told me all she knew about animals and nature she learned from them, but this shows they also include teaching good character traits. James Baldwin was another listed whose retelling of well-known stories kept standard cultural tales alive.  Other authors named in the bibliography often are found in this blog's sidebar.  

Last week I mentioned the work of  William J. Bennett, who included a slightly adapted version of "Why the Chimes Rang" in The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life's Journey, the sequel to his popular The Book of Virtues.  His editing of Public Domain stories show Character Education matching those early "virtues."

What about more recent resources?

Internet Archive lets you "borrow" more recent books, but only for an hour (to avoid publisher complaints about copyright infringement).  It gives you a chance to thoroughly preview a book, but after that you should either buy or borrow the book through your local library.  Inter-library loans let you borrow beyond what may actually be owned by your library, so don't give up.

Bobby & Sherry Norfolk did an excellent job with Moral of the story; folktales for character development.  It came out in 1999 and includes sources & bibliographies from the '80s and '90s for specific character education issues, making them easy to either borrow or buy.  There are stories grouped by theme on values in the book.  Added stories on the topics are in the bibliography of stories recommended by educators and storytellers.  A few of those stories may be older, but are definitely standard material to find.  There's even an abridged one hour audio version of six of the stories with the lively telling by the Norfolks, showing "that character education, using storytelling and folktales from cultures around the world, can be fun, enjoyable, non-didactic, and remarkable effective."

A similar book is Character education : a book guide for teachers, librarians, and parents

by Sharron L. McElmeel written in 2002 and available as either an eBook or paperback.  School Library Journal's review states: 

This useful tool is organized in 17 chapters with each one focusing on different character traits such as flexibility, initiative, humility, and patience. Each chapter begins with a definition of the term and lists several books that range in age appropriateness. A brief summary of the book is followed by discussion/activity notes, a list of related traits/curricular themes, and suggested collaborative readings. Relevant quotes from a variety of well-known authors and others are interspersed throughout. This book stands out from others of its type because of its excellent introduction that talks about character education in general, specifics related to the home and classroom, as well as a consideration of various formats and genres; its brevity that makes it a useful planning resource without being overwhelming; and its thorough index of titles, authors, and concepts. A boon for librarians as well as for parents who are homeschooling or organizing group projects.

Both those books are given with Amazon links, but are available beyond that omnipresent source, too.

Searching further

Something more likely to be found only in a library are Storytellers Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children and its sequel, Storyteller's Sourcebook, 1983-1999  by Margaret Read MacDonald.  She worked on the sequel with Brian W. Sturm.  I asked her if there would be a 21st century version and she said it wasn't economically worthwhile with internet searching the way it is.  <SIGH!>  The subjects indexed go waaaaay beyond character education, but certainly includes the various topics.  If your local library doesn't have the books, ask the librarian to locate the nearest library which owns them.

Another library resource would be the various volumes of the many years of Index to Fairy Tales.  The indexers vary over the years and the title may change slightly.  That link is to the HathiTrust online versions up through 1952. The original 1915 volume is separate.  There's also limited, search only, versions of the later volumes: 1949-1972; 1973-1977; 1978-1986; 1987-1992 with significant pre-1987 titles not previous indexed.  Initial indexing didn't go beyond listing story titles so you may need to be creative in your hunting.  The series didn't begin to check subjects until the 1949-1972 edition, but the earlier volumes are good for Public Domain material.  The ability to search these online may save a trip to a library.  

Even more online resources

A resource for members of the National Storytelling Network is GREENWOOD’S WORLD FOLKLORE AND FOLKLIFE RESOURCE & DATABASE GUIDE -- Only available through institutions, such as libraries or schools…AND NSN!  It's updated monthly, covering "holidays, festivals, language, stories, and fairy tales, proverbs, food ways, and folk remedies that define our society and our place within it."  All content is fully-indexed and cross-searchable.

Internet Archive also offers the Wayback Machine to locate websites no longer "live" on the internet.  For many years on the storytellers email list, Storytell, storytellers could ask a question and have the answers saved at Story-Lovers -, but it is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine.  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. 

Storytell, is now hosted by the National Storytelling Network.  Unlike the Greenwood database, which is only available to members, anyone may join that email list via the link.  Once subscribed you not only receive the emails, but can sign in and access the archive which currently runs from the end of January 2016 through the present.  The archive isn't as easy to use as SOS: Searching Out Stories, but online searching is a skill worth developing if you need to find stories.  As a list member you can also add to the discussions including asking for other members' suggestions.

(Here on this blog you may find a lot using its sidebar.)

What about making a recording or reprinting?

Use caution in reprinting or recording a story beyond the current guaranteed year. . . for 2022 on January 1 Public Domain will be available 1926 and earlier for U.S. works.  Beyond that you need to be certain if a work was renewed.  Stanford's online database of renewals lets you check up through 1963. After that renewal was automatic.  Beyond 2022 the years will continue to have Public Domain Days of free access.  All of this is U.S. copyright & varies around the world, but that Public Domain Review link mentions a bit of how to deal with other countries.  

I'm not a lawyer (although I have played one in an Agatha Christie mystery and was murdered!), but know of other copyright resources if you need them.  Don't get me started on my rant about the need for Public Domain and how copyright has gone beyond what it should be!!!

Final thoughts

Let's return to the Oregon resource's discussion of this topic: 

The method which it is designed should be followed in carrying out this work is the indirect method. The teacher should read or tell the story to the children without any direct attempt to enforce the moral. Let the child do his own moralizing. He is perfectly capable of it, and that which he does for himself is far more effective than that which the teacher does for him. Of course, it is vital that he should grasp the point of the story. If he fails to do so at first, tactful questioning will bring the moral lesson out, but by all means "preaching" should be avoided. It is best that the child should not know that the story is being presented to him for any ulterior purpose. Psychologists have formulated the law that the power of normal suggestion varies inversely with the extent to which its purpose is definitely revealed. Someone has said: "The mother who says to her child, 'Why don't you go out on the lawn and see how many dandelions you can pick?' is likely to secure a period of privacy, but if she adds, 'so that I can be alone for a little while,' the result will not be the same."

Happy telling . . . try change through storytelling, it can be fun!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Alden - Why the Chimes Rang - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

When a story is included in various anthologies or told by many storytellers, it's a good bet the story deserves its status as a classic.  Raymond Macdonald Alden had more than one successful book and stories, but "Why the Chimes Rang" was anthologized, also made into a play, and even after Alden died the 1906 story lived on in various editions with the copyright maintained by its publisher, Bobbs-Merrill.  Fortunately even the 1924 illustrations by Katharine Sturges can now be safely enjoyed.  I have that edition and plan to insert her frontispiece illustration within the story's text where it occurs.  

The book was published many times over the years beyond its original publisher and today's story was often referenced or included in other anthologies.  The jacket copy on the 1945 edition calls the book "One of the childhood classics of our time, Why the Chimes Rang and Other Stories, has gained a place on the bookshelves of almost every nursery as well as in almost every public library and school."  About the title story it goes on to say:

The title story, "Why the Chimes Rang," attracted immediate attention when it first appeared in 1906. Since then it and the stories that accompany it in this volume have been accorded the critical and popular recognition that is granted only to real literature, to the true classic. The collection is a favorite in countless homes. Its stories are told and retold in Sunday schools, in children’s rooms of public libraries and on the air at Christmas. With the passing of time its freshness and simple beauty have been ever more widely recognized. Indeed, so completely are these tales known and accepted that many people now mistake them for old legends, instead of being the imaginative creations of one man of our time.

I love the comment about this story (and maybe others in the book) being so well "known and accepted that many people mistake them for old legends."

As usual I'll add a bit at the end including one family's story of how it came to be an important tradition in their family.



There was once in a faraway country where few people have ever travelled, a wonderful church. It stood on a high hill in the midst of a great city; and every Sunday, as well as on sacred days like Christmas, thousands of people climbed the hill to its great archways, looking like lines of ants all moving in the same direction.

When you came to the building itself, you found stone columns and dark passages, and a grand entrance leading to the main room of the church. This room was so long that one standing at the doorway could scarcely see to the other end, where the choir stood by the marble altar. In the farthest corner was the organ; and this organ was so loud, that sometimes when it played, the people for miles around would close their shutters and prepare for a great thunderstorm. Altogether, no such church as this was ever seen before, especially when it was lighted up for some festival, and crowded with people, young and old. But the strangest thing about the whole building was the wonderful chime of bells.

At one corner of the church was a great gray tower, with ivy growing over it as far up as one could see. I say as far as one could see, because the tower was quite great enough to fit the great church, and it rose so far into the sky that it was only in very fair weather that any one claimed to be able to see the top. Even then one could not be certain that it was in sight. Up, and up, and up climbed the stones and the ivy; and as the men who built the church had been dead for hundreds of years, every one had forgotten how high the tower was supposed to be.

Now all the people knew that at the top of the tower was a chime of Christmas bells. They had hung there ever since the church had been built, and were the most beautiful bells in the world. Some thought it was because a great musician had cast them and arranged them in their place; others said it was because of the great height, which reached up where the air was clearest and purest; however that might be no one who had ever heard the chimes denied that they were the sweetest in the world. Some described them as sounding like angels far up in the sky; others as sounding like strange winds singing through the trees.

But the fact was that no one had heard them for years and years. There was an old man living not far from the church who said that his mother had spoken of hearing them when she was a little girl, and he was the only one who was sure of as much as that. They were Christmas chimes, you see, and were not meant to be played by men or on common days. It was the custom on Christmas Eve for all the people to bring to the church their offerings to the Christ-Child; and when the greatest and best offering was laid on the altar there used to come sounding through the music of the choir the Christmas chimes far up in the tower. Some said that the wind rang them, and others, that they were so high that the angels could set them swinging. But for many long years they had never been heard. It was said that people had been growing less careful of their gifts for the Christ-Child, and that no offering was brought great enough to deserve the music of the chimes.

Every Christmas Eve the rich people still crowded to the altar, each one trying to bring some better gift than any other, without giving anything that he wanted for himself, and the church was crowded with those who thought that perhaps the wonderful bells might be heard again. But although the service was splendid, and the offerings plenty, only the roar of the wind could be heard, far up in the stone tower.

Now, a number of miles from the city, in a little country village, where nothing could be seen of the great church but glimpses of the tower when the weather was fine, lived a boy named Pedro, and his little brother. They knew very little about the Christmas chimes, but they had heard of the service in the church on Christmas Eve, and had a secret plan which they had often talked over when by themselves, to go to see the beautiful celebration.

"Nobody can guess, Little Brother," Pedro would say; "all the fine things there are to see and hear; and I have even heard it said that the Christ-Child sometimes comes down to bless the service. What if we could see Him?"

The day before Christmas was bitterly cold, with a few lonely snowflakes flying in the air, and a hard white crust on the ground. Sure enough Pedro and Little Brother were able to slip quietly away early in the afternoon; and although the walking was hard in the frosty air, before nightfall they had trudged so far, hand in hand, that they saw the lights of the big city just ahead of them. Indeed they were about to enter one of the great gates in the wall that surrounded it, when they saw something dark on the snow near their path, and stepped aside to look at it.

It was a poor woman, who had fallen just outside the city, too sick and tired to get in where she might have found shelter. The soft snow made of a drift a sort of pillow for her, and she would soon be so sound asleep, in the wintry air, that no one could ever waken her again. All this Pedro saw in a moment and he knelt down beside her and tried to rouse her, even tugging at her arm a little, as though he would have tried to carry her away. He turned her face toward him, so that he could rub some of the snow on it, and when he had looked at her silently a moment he stood up again, and said:

"It's no use, Little Brother. You will have to go on alone."

"Alone?" cried Little Brother. "And you not see the Christmas festival?"

"No," said Pedro, and he could not keep back a bit of a choking sound in his throat. "See this poor woman. Her face looks like the Madonna in the chapel window, and she will freeze to death if nobody cares for her. Every one has gone to the church now, but when you come back you can bring some one to help her. I will rub her to keep her from freezing, and perhaps get her to eat the bun that is left in my pocket."

"But I cannot bear to leave you, and go on alone," said Little Brother.

"Both of us need not miss the service," said Pedro, "and it had better be I than you. You can easily find your way to church; and you must see and hear everything twice, Little Brother—once for you and once for me. I am sure the Christ-Child must know how I should love to come with you and worship Him; and oh! if you get a chance, Little Brother, to slip up to the altar without getting in any one's way, take this little silver piece of mine, and lay it down for my offering, when no one is looking. Do not forget where you have left me, and forgive me for not going with you."

In this way he hurried Little Brother off to the city and winked hard to keep back the tears, as he heard the crunching footsteps sounding farther and farther away in the twilight. It was pretty hard to lose the music and splendour of the Christmas celebration that he had been planning for so long, and spend the time instead in that lonely place in the snow.

The great church was a wonderful place that night. Every one said that it had never looked so bright and beautiful before. When the organ played and the thousands of people sang, the walls shook with the sound, and little Pedro, away outside the city wall, felt the earth tremble around them.

At the close of the service came the procession with the offerings to be laid on the altar. Rich men and great men marched proudly up to lay down their gifts to the Christ-Child. Some brought wonderful jewels, some baskets of gold so heavy that they could scarcely carry them down the aisle. A great writer laid down a book that he had been making for years and years. And last of all walked the king of the country, hoping with all the rest to win for himself the chime of the Christmas bells. There went a great murmur through the church as the people saw the king take from his head the royal crown, all set with precious stones, and lay it gleaming on the altar, as his offering to the Holy Child. "Surely," every one said, "we shall hear the bells now, for nothing like this has ever happened before."

But still only the cold old wind was heard in the tower and the people shook their heads; and some of them said, as they had before, that they never really believed the story of the chimes, and doubted if they ever rang at all.

The procession was over, and the choir began the closing hymn. Suddenly the organist stopped playing; and every one looked at the old minister, who was standing by the altar, holding up his hand for silence. Not a sound could be heard from any one in the church, but as all the people strained their ears to listen, there came softly, but distinctly, swinging through the air, the sound of the chimes in the tower. So far away, and yet so clear the music seemed—so much sweeter were the notes than anything that had been heard before, rising and falling away up there in the sky, that the people in the church sat for a moment as still as though something held each of them by the shoulders. Then they all stood up together and stared straight at the altar, to see what great gift had awakened the long silent bells.

But all that the nearest of them saw was the childish figure of Little Brother, who had crept softly down the aisle when no one was looking, and had laid Pedro's little piece of silver on the altar.


I hesitated, but felt I had to include a link to the author at the beginning, yet hope you didn't notice this before reading the story: 

The story is a sort of variation on the Jongleur de Notre Dame and Little Drummer Boy themes.

Of course it's fine to realize it after the fact, but I imagine experienced storytellers and listeners saw it coming.  Quite by accident, while looking for more about the Sturges illustrations, I discovered an interesting story about its telling making the tale a very special family traditon since 1946.  From Faith Episcopal Church in Poulsbo, Washington I can just picture: 

My stewardship story is different, and it began when I was a child with a story that you may know. Since 1946 and continuing to this day, my dad’s side of the family gathers to celebrate Christmas Eve and to give thanks that he and his brothers returned safely from fighting in WW2. My dad, a dynamic storyteller, sat us kids down on the living room floor, me, my brothers and sister and numerous nieces and nephews, and told the tale, “Why the Chimes Rang,” written by Raymond Macdonald Alden in 1909.

The story was written in 1906, but the 1909 book has been reprinted many times, both by its original publisher and reprint editions.  In fact a search of the Internet Archive shows both the story and the play were standard knowledge for anyone growing up in the early 20th century (and beyond, although it wouldn't be available there for more than a loan if you want to see one of the later editions not yet in public domain).  One of those loans might be from William J. Bennett, who included it in The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life's Journey, the sequel to his popular The Book of Virtues.  Both books aim to present "intriguing but forgotten tales from centuries past, the stories . . . are literary and evocative, designed to inspire as well as instruct."  Bennett has an excellent understanding of character education found in the public domain that still is needed today.  While he adapts the story, shortening it a bit, Bennett's introductory comment points the storyteller to its "Little acts of kindness do not go unnoticed above, even if they go unseen by the crowd below."

While looking on Internet Archive at the 2,756 times the title shows up either as a book, play, or the story is mentioned or included in a periodical or book, I found something about its value in character education.  I plan to explore the topic of character education further next week for a "New Year's Resolution", but will note even before next week the importance of not letting the story's purpose be revealed by the storyteller.  We've all been subjected to "preachy" stories.  Making obvious the intent, either in talking about a story or in the style of delivery, backfires.  Let the story itself speak and be enjoyed, just as I noted its being a variation on familiar themes was best left for the audience to discover.  That particular resource "graded" the story for 5th grade.  That means 10 year-olds and up should be able to follow it as well as adults.  I found yet another resource that didn't limit the story even to that old, so it requires judging your audience (and possibly tailoring it a bit so it's both understood and matches their attention span.)

Other stories in Alden's anthology are also understandably popular, so if you want your own copy  you will be looking for a reputable publisher of reprints.  One I can recommend is anything from Dodo Press.  Sometimes other publishers' reprints -- especially if OCR (Optical Character Recognition) -- are too often poor quality.

Dodo Press was founded by Andrew Crawford and, if you have any difficulty finding it in the U.S., I've had excellent results ordering it from Book Depository with free shipping from the U.K.  This is even with shipping in a time when shipping is notoriously problematic.  Amazon acquired Dodo Press in 2011 so I'm not sure if the Dodo Press work continues, but it's worth searching as they, too, do a reputable job.  Crawford also was the founder and CEO of Book Depository.  I would love to be sure of a reprint's quality in advance.  This is why I applaud the Dodo Press for its standards in Keeping the Public in Public Domain. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Compton - The Coyote or Prairie Wolf - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

If ever there was a time for stories of Light, Hope, and Working Together it is now.  School shootings and threats, tornadoes upending whole lives, the pandemic are only some of the reasons, but they're big ones.

The terrible events of the shootings at nearby Oxford knocked off any possible Hanukkah stories for this year.  Yet if that celebration is called a "Festival of Light", certainly light is needed at this time.  Looking for stories about light took me to tales of how fire was given to people.  Our long ago ancestors recognized the hope fire brought.

There are many stories about this, but the one I found came from a book I had dismissed because of its title which seemed to have little authenticity: American Indian Fairy Tales by Margaret Compton.  The failure to note the tribal background made me even more hesitant.  Then I noticed in the introductory pages Compton's "Author's Note" to her 1895 book:

Through the courtesy of the librarian of the Smithsonian Institute, the author has had access to government reports of Indian life.  Upon these and the folk-lore contained in the standard works of Schoolcraft, Copway, and Catlin these stories are founded. 

As for Compton, via library cataloging notes, I learned she lived from 1852-1903, but nothing more.  There probably exists genealogical information, but her literary information hasn't made it to the internet.  I'll give more background to the story after letting it stand on its own.  I particularly appreciate that, while it is yet one more trickster tale about the mythical Coyote, in this version it requires a group willing to risk their lives.  (Compton also tacks on two very brief Coyote anecdotes, showing his less benevolent nature.) 

To save my own copy, I made use of Internet Archive, and needed to use two copies of the book.  The one with the anonymous botanical illustrations matches my own.  Internet Archive is currently offering a 2-to-1 Matching Gift Campaign, tripling the impact of every donation.  I am donating and hope you do, too.

It reminded me of a 1997 picture book version called Fire Race.   Only when I looked further into the "reteller", Jonathan London, did I realize what a different work this was for him.  He is best known for the series of over 30 books about the best-selling Froggy, which started as a tale told to his young sons.  But a look at the over 120 books he has written shows, once he began writing, his love of nature has often taken him way beyond the lovable Froggy.  Fire Race is indeed his version, with action packed illustrations by Sylvia Long.  The book does a great job of showing how this effort to get fire would never have happened if dependent on only one thief.  (I also enjoy the Raven version where Raven does it alone, but the teamwork and action in this story make it a special version.)

At least London corrected the name to Karuk, but it certainly isn't the first time a name's spelling changes and becomes standardized over time.  That led me to look for further background information.

The Klamath River is discussed fully in Wikipedia including this discussion of the five main Klamath River Basin Tribes Today, especially the Karuk who are surely the Cahrocs of the story:


The Karuk tribe recognized self-governance in 1994 and gained federal recognition in 1979. As the California legislature rejected treaties to create federal designated land, the Karuk peoples do not have a reservation. The Klamath Forest Reserve was created by the U.S. government in 1905 and claimed Karuk land as public land. Members have been working to reclaim parcels of their original land and place them in trusts.
The concept of World Renewal plays heavily into both Karuk and Yurok culture. Although the term "world renewal" was coined by anthropologist Kroeber and Gifford, the Karuk tribe has adopted the phrase to refer to their annual ceremony that they view as essential to maintaining the reciprocal and stewarding relationship they have with the environment. The ceremony is meant to renew and sustain this relationship.[84] Many aspects of the larger ceremony involve being near or on the Klamath river, such as boat dances that take place in canoes and involve giving thanks and gratitude to the river.[85] Salmon are an integral aspect of Karuk identity, culture, and subsistence. Karuk fisherman continue to sustainably fish for Salmon despite their decreasing numbers, drought and myriad other ecological issues. Ishi Pishi falls, located near the town of Somes Bar, remains the traditional location for Karuk men to fish.[86] Karuk fishermen use a traditional dip-net fishing technique using long poles with nets on the end. This style of fishing works to naturally limit the amount of fish caught in a fishing session, thus ensuring that many salmon are able to spawn upstream and resupply the fishery.[87]
The Karuk language also revolves around the Klamath River, and the word "karuk" means "upriver". To indicate uphill, the word maruk is used, meaning away from the river. Conversely, the word saruk, meaning towards the river, is used to indicate downhill.[88]

The Wikipedia article specifically on the Karuk people has an interesting note about back in the mid-1870s there were two different types of shamans "There are two classes of shamans—the root doctors and the barking doctors ... It is the province of the barking-doctor to diagnose the case, which she (most doctors are women) does by squatting down ... before the patient, and barking at him ... for hours together. After her comes the root-doctor, and with numerous potions, poultices, etc., seeks to medicate the part where the other has discovered the ailment resides."  

(Comment by LoiS) Coyote would surely have been pleased.

That description of the two types of shamans comes from the work of Stephen Powers, and much of the retelling of this story of Coyote comes from his third chapter, "Karok Fables" in 1877 Tribes of California.  His work was also in that Smithsonian Institute collection and surely was checked by Compton.  Powers, before entering the American Civil War as a newspaper correspondent in the Union Army, was a graduate of the University of Michigan.  U. of M. offers a free download of the book.  Powers wrote many articles and re-worked other notes to create his Tribes of California.  The book was the product of his walking and horseback riding thousands of miles studying the various tribes.  Fifty years later it was still considered "the best introduction to the subject" by Alfred Kroeber, then dean of Native California ethnologists.

How much of the Karuk tale is authentically retold by Compton, London or others?  I'm not an ethnologist.  I'm a storyteller who recognizes the value of this tale and believe in “Keeping the Public in the 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 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!

Friday, December 10, 2021

10 Minute Look at My Historical Storytelling

This past week a group of adult librarians wanted to see what I offer in the way of historical programs.  Since I'm a storyteller, it was different from the slide shows and PowerPoint presentations of other presenters of historical programs.

I created a video that went from telling  spooky stories from the metro Detroit area to the two stories of real people in Michigan history (pioneer times, an Underground Railroad Station, the Civil War, or a bilingual "Hello Girl" phone operator in World War I), then on to my programs that are an amalgamation of people who were 1-room school teachers or as a Hired Girl telling about Victorian Christmas in America, followed by my "High Times in Dry Times" look at Prohibition and the "Roaring 20s" here in Michigan where we supplied 3/4 of the smuggled alcohol, and even a remembrance of growing up in the 50s that can serve as an introduction to a program capturing and writing memories.

The video is at my YouTube channel.  I keep a few videos private to serve as virtual programs, but want people to have an access point to seeing what I can present.  

You may notice the program ends with a mention of my work towards the 250th anniversary of the Revolution here in the United States.  It won't be of a Michigan woman, but she lived over 100 years, long enough to bring an inside view of what I call "History as seen by the 'average' person."  Sarah Matthews Reed Osborn Benjamin may not have been as well-known as Martha Washington or Betsy Ross, but she certainly had an inside view of the Revolution.  Her story is going to be worth sharing.