American Indian Mythology by Evelyn Wolfson

By Evelyn Wolfson

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Extra resources for American Indian Mythology

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L. Kroeber lived for seventeen years among the Indians of California and did fifteen years of research on his book Handbook of the Indians of California. He was one of the foremost figures of his generation in the field of American anthropology, and this book is considered one of his most important works. In it he writes: What we call the soul, the Maidu named heart. “His heart is gone away” means that a person is dead. In a swoon or in a dream a person’s heart leaves his body. . The northern valley people believe that a dead person’s heart lingers near the body for several days.

Tolowim-Woman’s story is the only one of its kind. It is believed the storyteller made her belong to a fictitious tribe, named Tolowim, because a story about a woman who would abandon her husband 3 and child is too shameful to belong to the Maidu people. 38 TOLOWIM-WOMAN A ND BUTTERFLY-MAN Long ago, a young girl they called Tolowim-Woman lived in a large pit-house that was nestled in the California foothills. She was a dutiful wife and mother and did her share of the sewing and acorn-grinding. But the long hours of darkness indoors, when the only light came from the flame of the fire, made her restless and moody.

Again, the people were pleased. ” Then he created the humans and placed them along the rivers and streams of the region, where they have fished for Dog Salmon ever since. 32 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: A: Which sister married a good-looking young star-man? Q: Why was the younger sister disappointed with her new husband? A: He was old and ugly and would not be able to give her children. Q: Why did the Sky People tell the sisters not to dig up bulbs that grew too deep? A: They knew if the girls dug too deep they would open up a hole in the sky and see earth below them.

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