The Witch of Goingsnake and Other Stories

Robert J. Conley, Author
Robert J. Conley, Author University of Oklahoma Press $18.95 (165p) ISBN 978-0-8061-2148-2
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
The oral storytelling heritage of the Cherokee nation, with its emphasis on the spirit life as everyday reality, is the source for this collection by Conley, a Cherokee Indian and a leader in the indigenous literature movement. Many of the stories revolve around the tsigli , usually a witch whose evil capabilities may be presaged by visits from owls, hawks or foxes. A Cherokee cop (``Badger'') who fears an ``old hoot owl hanging around my house,'' takes a bullet to an Indian witch doctor for a special incantation. In ``The Endless Dark of the Night,'' a contemporary couple attempts to deprecate an old superstition``They say that whenever you see a fox that somebody's gonna die''but their uneasiness is troubling. In the title story an entire family, one by one, succumbs to the power of the tsigli. Cherokee history forms the basis of others, notably in ``Yellow Bird: An Imaginary Autobiography,'' an extended variation on the Genesis story, and ``The Night George Wolfe Died,'' a bitter telling of Indian-white relationship. Powerful, often dealing with cruel events, yet imbued with a mystical aura, these stories reflect the range of Cherokee culture and the differences among the full and mixed-blood inheritors. Wilma P. Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, has contributed a foreword. (October)
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