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Friday, March 24, 2023

Woodson - How the Dog Became the Friend of Man - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This week I said a final goodbye to the best dog ever!

He had been a family member since the autumn of 2011.  For now I can only say I'm sure our pets must go to heaven or it wouldn't be heavenly there without them!

Do I have stories about him?  You bet I do, but for now I'm not ready to share them.  I also am not ready again to become a "fur-ever" home, but plan to foster senior malamutes.  If I can't resist going further, it will become obvious, but for now this wonderful dog is truly the best dog I've ever had the blessing to know.

I wanted to find a story to memorialize him and thought instantly of Simon Otto's "Dog Legend" in his book, We Walk in Peace.  I tried unsuccessfully to find it again in other Anishinaabe anthologies from the Public Domain.  Simon didn't choose stories to share that are well-known.  He did choose to share them with me.  Since he,too, has gone on the Long Walk (probably with a dog or dogs by his side) I have tried unsuccessfully to contact his heirs (his wife, Mary?) for permission to reprint his works.  Perhaps this is a call to try further.  All of his books are now out-of-print, but can probably be found by searching.  I have them all, complete with his encouragement to share them.  If you go looking, all his books are stories of the Anishinaabek except for Aube Na Bing; A Pictorial History of Michigan Indians and even there he slips in three legends.  "Aube na bing" means "looking back" and I look back on the ways he helped me and others appreciate this part of our state's too often missed culture, a culture that reached across the border to nearby members of Canada's First Nations.  I also remember he was criticized for sharing some stories considered "sacred."  Eventually that criticism died down, possibly recognizing the value of his sharing, but I never notice his name in the listing of important Ojibway.  I did, however, discover an excellent article in the "Petoskey News-Review" where he had a column for several years called "Talking Leaves."  The pair of interviews it contains show much about this storyteller who ended his stories with the message of "Walk in Peace."

Since I was unable to find a way to include the Anishinaabe legend of how the dog came to live with people, I wound up further away with Carter Woodson's African Myths and Proverbs.  Doctor Carter Godwin Woodson, deserves recognition for his own cultural work.  Woodson became the second African American, after W. E. B. Du Bois, to obtain a PhD degree from Harvard University. Woodson is the only person whose parents were enslaved in the United States to obtain a PhD in history.  An American historian, author, journalist, he was one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora, including African-American history.  In 1926, Woodson pioneered the celebration of "Negro History Week, which of course is now Black History Month.  He split his attention between the U.S. and its African origins.  Here is his story of "How the Dog Became the Friend of Man", but there is no identification of its source beyond saying in the anthology's subtitle "Folk Tales from Various Parts of Africa."  


No doubt the story was repeated again and again throughout earliest history all over the world.  Dogs truly are "Man's best friend."


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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