Touching the Fire: Buffalo Dancers, the Sky Bundle, and Other Tales

Roger Welsch, Author Villard Books $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-40887-1
Folklorist Welsch ( Omaha Tribal Myths and Trickster Tales ), an adopted member of the Omaha tribe, here relates the saga of the Turtle Creek band of the fictional Nehawkas and their most sacred object: the Sky Bundle, a medicine pouch containing powerful talismans. The interlinked stories appear in reverse chronological order, beginning in 2001, the year the Sky Bundle was returned to the Nehawkas from a Boston museum, and moving back to the tribe's origins somewhere in the mists of history. The hand of Coyote, the old trickster, can be seen at work in the narrative. The Nehawkas secure the funds to gain repatriation of the relic by threatening to build a living museum in the manner of colonial Williamsburg: a suburban tract house that Indians can visit to see how white people live. They secure the reburial of another sacred object by making so many exact replicas that no one can find the real one. The tale of the Sky Bundle's return recalls the real-life story of the Omahas' own Sacred Pole, and the chronicle of the Jefferson Peace Medal echoes struggles over a similar medallion given to the Cherokees. This gives Welsch's stories great universality; they speak of all Native Americans, not just of an individual tribe or a single holy artifact. Author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1992
Release date: 09/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-449-90869-3
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8032-9798-2
Hardcover - 978-0-517-15609-4
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