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Friday, April 8, 2022

Parker - How the Conifers Flaunt the Promise of Spring - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Anthropologist and museum director, Arthur C. Parker, was from an important Seneca family on his father's side and wrote over the years about the Seneca along with the rest of the Iroquois Confederacy.  He was one of the founders of the Society of American Indians, the first national organization run by and for Native Americans and it also aimed to "educate the public about Native Americans."  I have long enjoyed three of his books, Seneca Myths & Folk Tales and Skunny Wundy; Seneca Indian Tales (both now in Public Domain); and Rumbling Wings and Other Indian Tales (which won't yet enter Public Domain for another two years).  As a children's librarian I first discovered him through his highly approachable Skunny Wundy, and think of it and today's story as I watch my oak trees begin to bud.  I also find it an interesting allegory of resistance to what seems like overwhelming attack.

Photo by Ira Huz on Unsplash

I confess it, I hate seeing the oak's brown leaves of winter, so while this gives the hope of spring, the story also explains their drab, stubborn leaves that cling through that long season.

I found myself wondering about the Tamarack.  There are various Michigan places named Tamarack, including the Tamarack District Library in Lakeview, Michigan, where I've presented two of my historical programs.  But I wasn't sure I knew what a Tamarack looked like.  It's always good research to start with the simple overview on Wikipedia.  There I learned it was also called a larch and the wood is so good for making snowshoes that "The word akemantak is an Algonquian name for the species and means 'wood used for snowshoes'."  Looking at the article's photos I still didn't know enough to identify it, although I began to realize it may be more often grown north of my metro Detroit location.  The Arborsmith LTD's tree of the month article was far more helpful, showing it in spring, telling of its color change in autumn, and a photo of it bare in winter in addition to explaining more about the tree.  

A further resource is "Get to Know Your Buds" from the Overton Park Conservancy.

Personally I'm delighted to see my oak trees budding and find the story of the two trees also a good allegory with the resilience of the Oak showing its determination to withstand attacks.

Overton Park photo of Red Oak buds
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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