"So Wise Were Our Elders": Mythic Narratives of the Kamsá
"So wise were our elders!" Thus exclaims Mariano Chicunque, himself an elder, expressing in a single phrase the thrust of the mythic narrative tradition he simultaneously presents and represents in his storytelling. A remarkable body of mythology is documented for the first time in this volume. John Holmes McDowell's study revolves around thirty-two mythic narratives of the Kamsa Indians who live in the Sibundoy Valley of the Colombian Andes, collected by the author from several renowned Kamsa story-tellers. Each myth is given in the native language with parallel English translations that seek to capture the flavor of the original performances. Textual annotation and commentary assess the grounding of the myths in the language and culture of the Kamsa indigenous community. Introductory chapters describe the process of transcription and translation and highlight important characteristics of the collection. McDowell stresses the collaborative nature of the enterprise, which benefits from the shared vision of the ethnographer and of indigenous consultants who were involved in every step of the process. The narratives are portrayed as a residual mythology in transit toward folktale but still evocative of a traditional cosmos. The myths are much more than inert "literary" objects, and under McDowell's scrupulous analysis they emerge as a storehouse of narrative potential whose performances still have meaning in Kamsa' society and culture today.
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Kamsa Mythic Narrative
The Wangetsmuna Cycle
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Amerindian ancestors ancestral period animal anteona Aponte arrived asna atxe atxebe bear beast binyea bngabe btse bweno chana chbe chentxe chicha chka chka ch choka chor chore chorna ch choye chuj chuj chuj corn corpus culture hero deity dogs elders episodes father heathens human ibsana impas impase inamna Indians indigenous inye iye ch Juajibioy Juan Oso Justo kach kachka Kamsa mythic narrative kanye kwe kwe lempe Mariano Chicunque mase mntxa Mocoa morpheme mother motif mountains mwentxe myth mythology narrator native doctors ndaya ndoka remidio ndone ndorie ntxamo nye chka nyetxa old days orna osona Pasto performed by Mariano Popol Vuh protagonists rabbit red dwarfs ritual language river serta Sibundoy Valley Spanish speech spiritual story taita Bautista taita Mariano tale tempo thunder tonday tradition truly Wangetsmuna Wangetsmuna cycle warda weasel wind witch word yoja yojayana young woman