Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 9: Great Plains

Here are my notes for the Great Plains unit. I really liked the trickster stories in here, and there were so many good ghost stories, too!

The Creation. In this creation story, the Elk is the great hero who makes earth appear upon the waters, and from the Elk's hair come plants and trees. Very cool! I also like how it is paired with another story where they need more land and various animals go into the water, trying to bring up the soil below, and finally it is crawfish who succeeds, although the crawfish dies and people take the mud from his claws. Intense!

The Eagle's Revenge. Oooh, what a cool and eerie story: the brother of an eagle appears as a mysterious warrior at a tribal dance and one by one with the power of his yell he makes the dance leaders fall down dead, all in order to avenge the death of his brother who was killed by one of the members of the tribe.

Unktomi and the Bad Songs. There is a story like this in the Sioux unit too, but without the mink at the end - that one had wolves instead!

The Ghost's Resentment. Oh, what a cool story! From the title, I thought it would be about a real ghost but instead it was even more surprising, about a man who dresses up as a ghost in order to prevent other people from defiling a burial place. Nicely done!

Two Teton Ghost Stories. Of the ghost stories, the one here called "The Man Who Shot a Ghost" was my favorite. I love the idea of shooting a ghost (the ghost yells, “He shot me through the head and I have come apart”) - and, even better, when the man finds the bones of a dead person in a grave that a wolf dug up, there is a wound in the skull... from where he had shot the ghost! Eeeek! The story about the man who wrestled with a ghost was pretty cool too.

The Wakanda, or Water God. This was a very weird story about a boy who died and they could not bring him back alive from the world of the water gods because he had eaten their food; he could only come back dead. A girl who died that way and did not eat the gods' food was able to come back alive.

Why the Possum Plays Dead. Oh, the poor possum! He is a victim of the trickster rabbit not once, but twice. The first time he doesn't get a wife but rabbit does, and the second time he gets attacked by all the other animals (so he plays dead), while the rabbit got away.

Legend of the Head of Gold. What a cool story! It has all kinds of elements that are similar to European fairy tales, but this "head of gold" is something really cool - the boy goes into the forbidden place and dips his head into a round yellow thing which turns his head golden and radiant. Nice!

I would like to learn more about how these traditional ghost legends connect up with the idea of "Ghost-Dance" which also appears in one of the stories in this unit: The Spirit Land.

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