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Stories from Quechan Oral Literature

Stories from Quechan Oral Literature

Rosita Carr
John Comet
Jessie Webb Escalante
Mary Kelly Escalanti
Josefa Hartt
Tom Kelly
Barbara Levy
George Bryant
Millie Romero
Amy Miller
A.M. Halpern
Amy Miller
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Open Book Publishers
Pages: 548
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  • Book Info
    Stories from Quechan Oral Literature
    Book Description:

    The Quechan are a Yuman people who have traditionally lived along the lower part of the Colorado River in California and Arizona. They are well known as warriors, artists, and traders, and they also have a rich oral tradition. The stories in this volume were told by tribal elders in the 1970s and early 1980s. The eleven narratives in this volume take place at the beginning of time and introduce the reader to a variety of traditional characters, including the infamous Coyote and also Kwayúu the giant, Old Lady Sanyuuxáv and her twin sons, and the Man Who Bothered Ants. This book makes a long-awaited contribution to the oral literature and mythology of the American Southwest, and its format and organization are of special interest. Narratives are presented in the original language and in the storytellers’ own words. A prosodically-motivated broken-line format captures the rhetorical structure and local organization of the oral delivery and calls attention to stylistic devices such as repetition and syntactic parallelism. Facing-page English translation provides a key to the original Quechan for the benefit of language learners. The stories are organized into "story complexes”, that is, clusters of narratives with overlapping topics, characters, and events, told from diverse perspectives. In presenting not just stories but story complexes, this volume captures the art of storytelling and illuminates the complexity and interconnectedness of an important body of oral literature. Stories from Quechan Oral Literature provides invaluable reading for anyone interested in Native American cultural heritage and oral traditions more generally.

    eISBN: 978-1-909254-87-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Mark Turin

    New forms of collaboration have become central to the documentation, protection, and dissemination of endangered oral traditions. Indigenous communities who in the past shared their traditional knowledge with outside scholars are now exploring how to connect the narratives of their ancestors with a global public in ways that are respectful and ethical. This rich collection of Quechan oral literature is one such undertaking, and as readers, we have Quechan community members to thank for their generosity in sharing these extraordinary stories with us through this new anthology.

    Collaboration is not easy, and it’s rarely fast. As the ‘story’ of the...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Amy Miller

    This book is a collection of eleven traditional stories from Quechan oral literature, presented in the Quechan language with English translation.

    Part I of this introduction sets the stories in their cultural and crosscultural context. Part II describes how this volume arose through the collaborative efforts of tribal elders and linguists. It explains the translation process and the format in which the stories are presented. It also outlines the Quechan writing system and the conventions used in this volume.

    Summaries and notes on the stories may be found at the beginning of each chapter.

    The Quechan are a Yuman people...

  6. 1. The Man Who Bothered Ants
    (pp. 19-34)
    Jessie Webb Escalante

    This story was told to Abe Halpern by Jessie Webb Escalante on April 22, 1980. Halpern later reviewed his transcript of the story with Ernest Cachora.

    The main character in this story is a person who has a habit of annoying ants by poking their nest with a stick. Eventually an angry ant pulls both the man and his horse into the nest. Man and horse are held captive for such a long time that the man’s family and friends begin to mourn his death. Finally, the man and his horse are released and return home. The horse, once pure...

  7. 2. Two Stories about the Orphan Boy and the Monster

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 35-39)

      This chapter presents two narratives about an orphan boy and a seven-headed monster. These stories appear to have been influenced by European folklore (as discussed below), yet they are nonetheless very much Quechan stories. For readers who are unfamiliar with Quechan literature, they provide a relatively simple plot while introducing Quechan themes, literary devices, and rhetorical style. Readers who are already expert in Quechan oral literature will appreciate the ingenuity with which these stories integrate European and traditional Quechan ideas.

      The two narratives in this chapter focus on different events:‘Aréeyon the difficult journey the boy must make in...

    • ’Aréey
      (pp. 40-61)
    • Tsakwshá Kwapaaxkyée (Seven Heads)
      (pp. 62-94)
      John Comet
  8. 3. Xarathó
    (pp. 95-154)
    Jessie Webb Escalante

    Jessie Webb Escalante told the storyXarathóon March 14, 1979 to an audience which included her daughter Tessy Escalante as well as Abe Halpern. Tessy Escalante later helped Halpern to review his transcript of the story.

    The main character of this story isXwetsxwéts(Oriole), who lives happily with his two beautiful wives and their children. One day, Coyote bewitches Oriole, with the result that Oriole suddenly finds himself alone in a cold place high above the four levels of heaven. He is taken in by an old blind man (who happens to be the title character,Xarathó, although...

  9. 4. Three Stories about Kwayúu

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 155-159)

      Kwayúu(The One Who Sees) is a giant who gets his name from his tremendous size and the view which it affords him. The narratives in this chapter tell aboutKwayúufrom three radically different perspectives.

      Mary Kelly Escalanti told her story ofKwayúuto Abe Halpern on September 15, 1978. Halpern later reviewed his transcript of the narrative with Barbara Levy.

      This story focuses on two boys whose parents have been eaten byKwayúu. The boys are raised by their grandmother. Eventually they decide to avenge their parents’ death by killing the giant. Ignoring their grandmother’s warnings, they make...

    • Kwayúu
      (pp. 160-181)
      Mary Kelly Escalanti
    • Kwayúu
      (pp. 182-209)
      Josefa Hartt
    • Púk Atsé
      (pp. 210-254)
      Rosita Carr
  10. 5. Three Stories about Old Lady Sanyuuxáv

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 255-261)

      This chapter presents three narratives about Old LadySanyuuxáv. Each narrative focuses on different characters and events, with the result that the three stories are very different from one another. (A fourth version of the story, identified as “Sikwetxot,” was told nearly a century ago by Felix Escalanta and is summarized by Forde 1931: 129-130.)

      The first narrative about Old Ladysanyuuxávwas told by an elder who asked to remain anonymous. (The same elder narrated the story of’Aréeyin Chapter 2.) It was told to Abe Halpern on April 24, 1979. Halpern later reviewed his transcript with Millie...

    • ’Aakóoy Sanyuuxáv
      (pp. 262-283)
    • ’Aakóoy Sanyuuxáv
      (pp. 284-365)
      Josefa Hartt
    • Shakwatxót
      (pp. 366-486)
      John Comet
  11. 6. ’Aavém Kwasám
    (pp. 487-534)
    Tom Kelly

    Tom Kelly told the story of’Aavém Kwasámto Abe Halpern twice: the first time on September 20, 1978, and the second time on October 2, 1978. The second version is presented here.

    This story begins with a race between‘Aavém KwasámandQal’iitáaq. During the course of the race,‘Aavém Kwasámsees and falls in love with a woman. (A discussion which takes place after the story is concluded suggests that the woman is actually the wife ofQal’iitáaq.) She agrees to marry‘Aavém Kwasám, and they end up with two children.

    Eventually Coyote hears of their marriage. (There...

  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 535-537)