The Witch of Goingsnake and Other Stories

The Witch of Goingsnake and Other Stories

by Robert J. Conley
     
 

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Based on Cherokee history, oral storytelling, and personal experience, these stories, taken as a whole, reflect the depth of Cherokee historical experience and the range of contemporary Cherokee life. Several stories, including the one from which the collection takes its name, deal with the spiritual world. In the title story a man and his family are devastated by the…  See more details below

Overview

Based on Cherokee history, oral storytelling, and personal experience, these stories, taken as a whole, reflect the depth of Cherokee historical experience and the range of contemporary Cherokee life. Several stories, including the one from which the collection takes its name, deal with the spiritual world. In the title story a man and his family are devastated by the evil powers of a tsigli, a witch. In other stories "medicine" is used to more constructive ends. Some of the stories feature human-animal transformations, the ability to become invisible, and the power to manipulate events. In the context of the Cherokee world such stories are not fantasies. They are stories about reality-the reality known to Cherokees.

The collection also includes tales of Cherokee "outlaws," one of the most intriguing aspects of Cherokee history to Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike. Set in the days of Indian Territory, before Oklahoma statehood, these stories provide a taste of the wild West, seasoned with Cherokee cultural experience.

Still other stories describe modern-day Cherokees confronting the past and the present and continually struggling to find a place in the white people's world while maintaining a Cherokee belief system and way of life. Some Cherokees confront ignorant whites, others confront ignorant Cherokees, and still others simply make their own way, dealing with each other, with outsiders, with their environment, and with their spirituality in uniquely personal, albeit Cherokee, ways.

Clearly, these stories differ from stories that grow out of a European tradition, for behind them lie completely different cultural referents; different notions about interpreting events, time, and language; and a different view of the purpose and art of storytelling. Their author speaks with a clear Cherokee Indian voice to show how these cultural characteristics have survived centuries of abrupt change and to give readers an understanding of the fullness and humanity of the Cherokees as a people.

As Wilma P. Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, says in her foreword to the stories: "Much has been written about the Cherokee people. Not enough has been written by the Cherokee people. The subtle nuances of language, the memories of tribal life, and the strong sense of the past and its integration with the present are lost even to the most gifted non-Cherokee writer. There is a movement among contemporary Cherokee writers to produce more indigenous literature. Robert Conley is a leader of that movement."

Robert J. Conley is the author of ten novels in the Real People series, The Witch of Goingsnake and Other Stories, and Mountain Windsong, all available in paperback from the University of Oklahoma Press. A three-time winner of the Spur Award and Oklahoma Writer of the Year in 1999, Conley was inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame in 1996. He was named Writer of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers in 2000 for Cherokee Dragon.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The oral storytelling heritage of the Cherokee nation, with its emphasis on the spirit life as everyday reality, is the source for this collection by Conley, a Cherokee Indian and a leader in the indigenous literature movement. Many of the stories revolve around the tsigli , usually a witch whose evil capabilities may be presaged by visits from owls, hawks or foxes. A Cherokee cop (``Badger'') who fears an ``old hoot owl hanging around my house,'' takes a bullet to an Indian witch doctor for a special incantation. In ``The Endless Dark of the Night,'' a contemporary couple attempts to deprecate an old superstition``They say that whenever you see a fox that somebody's gonna die''but their uneasiness is troubling. In the title story an entire family, one by one, succumbs to the power of the tsigli. Cherokee history forms the basis of others, notably in ``Yellow Bird: An Imaginary Autobiography,'' an extended variation on the Genesis story, and ``The Night George Wolfe Died,'' a bitter telling of Indian-white relationship. Powerful, often dealing with cruel events, yet imbued with a mystical aura, these stories reflect the range of Cherokee culture and the differences among the full and mixed-blood inheritors. Wilma P. Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, has contributed a foreword. (October)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780806123530
Publisher:
University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date:
03/28/1991
Series:
Real People Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
182
Sales rank:
767,108
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.42(d)

Meet the Author

Robert J. Conley (1940-2014) was the author of the Real People series, The Witch of Goingsnake and Other Stories, and Mountain Windsong. A three-time winner of the Spur Award and Oklahoma Writer of the Year in 1999, Conley was inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame in 1996. He was named Writer of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers in 2000 for Cherokee Dragon.

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