These collected myths and tales of the Indians of the Pacific Northwest—the Klamath, Nez Perce, Tillamook, Modoc, Shastan, Chinook, Flathead, Clatsop, and other tribes—were first published in 1910. Here are their stories concerning the creation of the universe, the theft of fire and daylight, the death and rebirth of salmon, and especially, the formation of such geographical features as The Dalles, the Columbia River, the Yukon River, and Mounts Shasta, Hood, Rainier, Baker, and Adams.
Katharine Berry Judson began with native oral tradition in retelling these stories. They represent, as Jay Miller says, “a distillation of tribal memory and a personification of environmental wisdom.” Some legends—“Duration of Life,” “Old Grizzly and Old Antelope,” and “Robe of Kemush”—are almost literal translations, recorded by government ethnologists. Animating the beautifully wrought tales are entities like Coyote, Old Man Above, Owl and Raven and other Animal People, and Chinook Ghosts.
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About the Author
Katharine Berry Judson was a professor of history at the University of Washington. She compiled and edited four collections of native myths and tales, including Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest, also available as a Bison Book.
Jay Miller, formerly assistant director and editor at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for the History of the American Indian at the Newberry Library, is an independent scholar and writer teaching the grammar of Tsimshian in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. He is the author of Tsimshian Culture (Nebraska 1997) and editor of Mourning Dove: A Salishan Autobiography (Nebraska 1990).