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Algonquin Legends of New England   By: (1824-1903)

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Algonquin Legends of New England by Charles Godfrey Leland is an enchanting collection of Native American folklore that unveils the rich mythological heritage of the Algonquin tribes in New England. Leland masterfully compiles these captivating tales, presenting them to readers with a blend of respect, curiosity, and a deep appreciation for the indigenous culture.

Through his diligent research and interactions with various Algonquin tribes, Leland succeeds in bringing the hidden narratives of this oral tradition to life on paper. Each legend weaves together a tapestry of supernatural elements, spiritual beliefs, historical events, and a profound connection to the natural world.

One of the most impressive aspects of this book is Leland's ability to preserve the authentic voice and essence of the Algonquin people. His storytelling style mirrors the oral tradition of the tribes, capturing the nuances and rhythmic patterns that characterize their spoken narratives. In doing so, readers are immersed in an enchanting world, where human beings coexist with spirits, animals possess magical powers, and nature becomes a living, breathing entity.

The legends themselves are diverse and cover a range of themes, from creation myths to tales of magical transformation, heroic quests, and cautionary stories. Each story offers a unique perspective, revealing subtle differences and commonalities between the various Algonquin tribes and their cosmologies. As readers delve into these tales, they gain a profound understanding of the profound spiritual beliefs, values, and folklore that held the Algonquin communities together.

Moreover, Leland provides delightful commentary and annotations throughout the book, offering historical context and shedding light on the cultural significance of each legend. His annotations not only enhance the reading experience but also deepen our appreciation for the oral tradition and the importance of preserving these stories for future generations.

While Algonquin Legends of New England is an informative and engaging read, it is worth noting that some readers may find certain parts challenging, particularly the use of archaic language and complex references to Algonquin cosmology. However, these moments should not deter readers from exploring this captivating collection. The book's enduring value lies in its ability to transport us to a time and place where the boundaries between the spiritual and natural realms dissolve, and profound truths are embedded within seemingly fantastical tales.

In conclusion, Algonquin Legends of New England is an invaluable contribution to the preservation of Native American folklore. Charles Godfrey Leland's dedication and skill in presenting these tales with respect and authenticity make this book an essential resource for anyone interested in Algonquin culture, Native American folklore, or simply seeking an enchanting exploration of a rich and ancient oral tradition.

First Page:



Myths and Folk Lore of the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Tribes



From a scraping on birch bark by Tomak Josephs, Indian Governor at Peter Dona's Point, Maine. The Mik um wees always wears a red cap like the Norse Goblin.]


When I began, in the summer of 1882, to collect among the Passamaquoddy Indians at Campobello, New Brunswick, their traditions and folk lore, I expected to find very little indeed. These Indians, few in number, surrounded by white people, and thoroughly converted to Roman Catholicism, promised but scanty remains of heathenism. What was my amazement, however, at discovering, day by day, that there existed among them, entirely by oral tradition, a far grander mythology than that which has been made known to us by either the Chippewa or Iroquois Hiawatha Legends, and that this was illustrated by an incredible number of tales. I soon ascertained that these were very ancient. The old people declared that they had heard from their progenitors that all of these stories were once sung; that they themselves remembered when many of them were poems. This was fully proved by discovering manifest traces of poetry in many, and finally by receiving a long Micmac tale which had been sung by an Indian... Continue reading book >>

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