After a career working and living with American Indians and
studying their traditions, Barre Toelken has written this sweeping
study of Native American folklore in the West. Within a framework
of performance theory, cultural worldview, and collaborative
research, he examines Native American visual arts, dance, oral
tradition (story and song), humor, and patterns of thinking and
discovery to demonstrate what can be gleaned from Indian traditions
by Natives and non-Natives alike. In the process he considers
popular distortions of Indian beliefs, demystifies many traditions
by showing how they can be comprehended within their cultural
contexts, considers why some aspects of Native American life are
not meant to be understood by or shared with outsiders, and
emphasizes how much can be learned through sensitivity to and
awareness of cultural values.
Winner of the 2004 Chicago Folklore Prize, The Anguish of
Snails is an essential work for the collection of any serious
reader in folklore or Native American studies.
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