The Maidu Indian Myths and Stories of Hanc'ibyjim

William Shipley, Editor, Gary Snyder, Foreword by, Gary Snyder, Designed by Heyday Books $12.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-930588-52-6
Linguist and anthropologist Shipley has produced a major anthology of myths and tales of the Maidu Indians of Northern California. Originally relayed by Hanc'ibyjim, the last great Maidu storyteller, to an American Museum of Natural History expedition in 1902-1903, the stories in this collection languished, all but forgotten until Shipley began their recovery in the 1980s. In his vibrant new translation, he has gone to great lengths to maintain the oral, theatrical quality of their original telling. Sensitively handled, the narratives take on an Homeric timbre. The centerpiece of the book is the creation myth in which Earthmaker sings the world into being. This is followed by a section of stories revolving around the trickster Coyote, present at creation and symbolizing at once negation and the human spirit. These are balanced by tales of numerous other beings. Shipley also provides a brief, helpful introduction to the Maidu people. He rejects romantic images that ultimately dehumanize Native Americans by turning them into icons. By culling a broad cross-section of myths, he supplies a full-scale picture of the Maidu as earthy, sensuous human beings. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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