Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 10: Sioux Stories

This was such a great unit: Sioux Legends. It had a couple of rabbit trickster stories, but the best were the stories about the seriously dangerous trickster Unktomi / Iktomi.

The Rabbit and the Grouse Girls. What a funny story! I like how the rabbit tricked the grouse, but then the grouse tricked the grandmother... and when the grandmother tried to trick the rabbit, he saw through the trick and had to laugh.

The Rabbit and the Bear. Wow, another awesome story! There was a Cherokee story about a rabbit a man who was "Flint," but this is even better with a bear who is half flesh and half flint, but the rabbit breaks the bear in half AND manages to get away.

The Story of the Lost Wife. What a dramatic story! I was really in suspense with this one: I was afraid the men might kill the wolves (and glad they did not), and when the woman actually howled like a wolf, I thought she might stay with the wolves for good... but she came back to her human tribe. Very dramatic; I really like this story, and I don't know any other story quite like it.

The Mysterious Butte. I really liked the way this place had a prophetic power, showing the future in the form of pictures. Very cool indeed!

The Wonderful Turtle. I am a big fan of turtle stories and this one had all kinds of unusual details. Plus I felt so badly for the turtle at the end: I was hoping the baby might be some kind of weird half-human half-turtle child, but instead it just showed the turtle that his wife had not been true to him. So sad! He was definitely better off to back to the lake and catch flies and relax for the rest of his life.

Unktomi, The Two Widows, and the Red Plums. Wow, I cannot say I really liked this story, but it is one of the most evil stories about a trickster I have ever read. Eeeek! But the point of the story is in the last sentence: it is not just that the trickster can be evil, but rather than people are foolish enough to believe him - "thus ended the last of the family who were foolish enough to let Unktomi tempt them with a few red plums."

Iktomi's Blanket. Oh, what a great story! I really like this description of the trickster Iktomi: "his wit was not wisdom." He still does not even really understand his mistake at the end when, instead of being sorry for having taken back the blanket he had offered to the god, he just wishes he had eaten the meat first. Poor Iktomi: if he had done that, some even worse punishment would have befallen him. But he is just clueless, for all that he is a sly trickster! Iktomi was clueless in a similar way in the story about the muskrat too, where all would have been fine if Iktomi had just shared his food from the start.

The War-Like Seven. Oh, this is the kind of story I love! There are animals and inanimate objects who go forth together. One by one they are defeated in their pride (wind blows the Ashes away, etc.). The fish and the turtle manage to escape the villagers (like in other "turtle on the warpath" stories), but then it gets really weird at the end since Iktomi shows up too and cuts a hole in the stomach of the weird Iya-Eater monster, and all the water comes out and drowns the whole village. Wild!

TURTLES: I love stories about turtles, and some of the best turtle stories I have ever read are from these different Native American traditions!

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