Creation Myths of Primitive America

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ABC-CLIO, 2002 - Reference - 297 pages
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Native American mythology shows vestiges of religious concepts already old when the Egyptians evolved their form of worship. This volume offers an unusual collection of myths from two Native American cultures, the Wintu and Yana, recorded and translated in the 1880s by Jeremiah Curtin, one of the outstanding American linguists of the later 19th century. Because Curtin sought out storytellers who were not influenced by other cultures, his translations offer remarkably accurate accounts of the fundamental beliefs of Native Americans.

In his introduction, Curtin explains the profound antiquity of these myths of creation, which preserve some of the earliest religious expression. He also provides an unflinching account of the appalling genocidal attacks on the peaceful Yana by white Californians in the 1860s. Because the Yana became extinct, Curtin's rendering of some of their important myths is an especially valuable contribution to contemporary understanding of Native American mythology.

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Native American creation myths

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Dating back to 1898, linguist and ethnographer Curtin compiled the mythological data he gathered on the Wintu and Yana Indian groups. Read full review


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About the author (2002)

Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz ; also known as "Litwos"; May 5, 1846 - November 15, 1916) was a Polish journalist and Nobel Prize-winning novelist. A Polish szlachcic (noble) of the Oszyk coat of arms, he was one of the most popular Polish writers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905 for his "outstanding merits as an epic writer." Born into an impoverished noble family in Russian-ruled Poland, Sienkiewicz wrote historical novels set during the Rzeczpospolita (Polish Republic, or Commonwealth). Many of his novels were first serialized in newspapers, and even today are still in print. In Poland, he is best known for his historical novels "With Fire and Sword," "The Deluge," and "Fire in the Steppe" (The Trilogy) set during the 17th-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while internationally he is best known for Quo Vadis, set in Nero's Rome. Quo Vadis has been filmed several times, most notably the 1951 version.

Karl Kroeber is Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His previous publications include "Ishi in Three Centuries" (ed. 2003), "Artistry in American Indian Myths" (1998), and "Ecological Literary Criticism" (1994). He is Editor Emeritus of "Studies in American Indian Literature,

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