This volume, collected by John P. Harrington in the early 1900s, contains 21 folktales, 7 folkways, and several folksongs of the Picuris Pueblo Indians who live just outside of Taos, New Mexico. I didn’t realize the location of the tribe when I picked up this book, but because my in-laws have a cabin in between Taos and Angel Fire, I was glad I picked this copy up to become more familiar with the native customs from the area.
The stories are all short and according to the text the audience is usually children, although the audience is not limited to children. The stories mostly all contain an example of why things are the way they are–why the people farm the land, why coyotes are so smart, how eagles got their colors, why there are no giants, how the people have the plants that they do. The stories themselves usually are focused on animals rather than humans and contain a lot of repitition. I enjoyed reading them as a whole, but if I could dig out my notes from my Folklore course my first year of grad school I could find more entertaining examples of American Indian folktales.
The folkways section is only about a quarter of the book (or less–about 10 pages!) and gives some of the birth, death, education, and hunting customs. I would have liked for this section to be larger and in more detail. All in all, I don’t think that this book gave me any further insight into the customs of these people–but perhaps some of this could be because Harrington, from what I got from the book, was more interested in recording the language rather than the actual stories.
What folktale/folklore books or collections do you like?