Adult Reading Level

WISCONSIN CHIPPEWA MYTHS AND TALES: AND THEIR RELATION TO CHIPPEWA LIFE, Victor Barnouw (ed), University of Wisconsin Press, 114 North Murray Street, Madison, WI, 53715. Paperback, 295 pages, index, index of motifs, bibliography. $14.95

These stories were collected mostly from 5 old people at Lac du Flambeau and Lac Court Oreilles, the two largest Ojibwe reservations in Wisconsin, in the early 1940's by several anthropologists, often through an interpreter. Th stories themselves are quite intersting, and in general narration is fairly smooth, without the archaic wording and incongruous entitis ("fairies") often found in 19th century legend collections.

The anthro use of them, though, is something else again. A very trivial and inaccurate description of Midewewin rites is set forth for Chippewa religion, , and all th tales are analyzed by the fad-of-the-year, then, which was Freudian psychology. "It must be significant that there is no mention of clans in any of the myths or tales," Barnouw says, and concluds from this that Chippewa society was atomistic (fragmented). Barnouw does much psychologizing about "personality patterns" on stories which ae (among other things) extended slightly dirty jokes. I had a hard time plowing through this stuff and suggest all the analysis be ignored by those who want to enjoy the tales. The tales include Wenebojo (cultur hero/trickster) origin myths from Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles; Matchikwewis and Oshkikwe (bad girl and good girl) stories; Windigo (cannibal) stories; stories about evil uses of spiritual powers; tales that originated as European stories that Indian storytellers put the Indian sign on -- a sort of Cinderella story with a real difference (Bear Girl). Anthros tend to despise these; I love them. And stories told as true that the anthros considered "individual fantasies." which seem to be fragmentary dreams told the anthros. I found most fo the commentary and analysis obtuse and annoying, but I likd the stories a lot. Reviewed by Paula Giese

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Thursday, April 04, 1996 - 10:09:21 AM