The role of storyteller was always a very special one among Native Americans, combining the functions of philosopher, historian, and entertainer. Winter was the time for the stories around the fire, when the hunt was over and people longed to be “lifted to the fairyland of pure imagination,” as an early twentieth-century Native American has said. This book contains the magic created around the Indian fireside, for readers of all ages. It includes myths of creation, culture myths, nature myths, and beast fables, as well as the legends, personal narratives and historical traditions of thirty North American Indian tribes.
Ella Elizabeth Clark was born in Summertown, Tennessee and educated in Illinois, at Northwestern University. She was on the English staff of Washington State University from 1927 to 1961. Her interest in Indian folktales began when she was a forest lookout for the United States Forest Service in the mountains of Western Washington during the Second World War. In her life, she visited many Indian reserves, where she was fortunate enough to sit at the feet of some of the last of the old generation of Indian storytellers.