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The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians   By: (1793-1864)

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In "The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians", Henry Rowe Schoolcraft delves into the fascinating world of indigenous oral traditions. This comprehensive collection brings forth a vibrant tapestry of myths, legends, and allegories from the Native American tribes, offering readers a deeper understanding of their complex cosmology and cultural beliefs.

One of the book's strengths lies in its meticulous attention to detail. Schoolcraft demonstrates extensive research by presenting a wide range of stories from various tribes across North America. Through his collection, readers are introduced to a multitude of characters, including iconic figures such as Hiawatha, Glooskap, and Manabozho. Each story serves as a window into a distinct worldview, reflecting the diverse cultural landscapes of the tribes.

Furthermore, Schoolcraft's analysis and commentary provide valuable insights into the significance of these tales and their broader cultural context. His explanations shed light on the symbolism and allegories embedded within these narratives, unraveling layers of meaning and connecting them to the everyday lives of the tribes. This deepens our appreciation for the rich oral tradition and highlights its relevance beyond storytelling.

The book's structure is well-organized and cohesive. Schoolcraft begins with an informative introduction that sets the stage for what lies ahead, explaining the importance of oral tradition in Native American culture. He then proceeds to present the myths and legends, carefully arranging them in thematic sections. This arrangement enhances the reader's comprehension and allows for comparisons between different tribes, revealing both commonalities and unique aspects of their respective mythologies.

Despite the book's academic nature, Schoolcraft's writing style remains engaging throughout. His prose effortlessly transports the reader into the heart of each story, vividly recreating the timeless atmosphere of oral storytelling. The inclusion of dialogues and direct quotes from indigenous sources enhances the authenticity of the texts, immersing readers in the vibrancy of Native American folklore.

If there is one drawback to "The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians", it is the occasional absence of analysis or contextualization for certain tales. While Schoolcraft provides valuable commentary for most stories, a few lack the same level of depth, leaving the reader desiring further exploration and understanding.

Overall, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's "The Myth of Hiawatha, and Other Oral Legends, Mythologic and Allegoric, of the North American Indians" is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Native American mythology and cultural heritage. By compiling and analyzing these oral legends with meticulous attention, Schoolcraft brings their beauty and significance to life. This book invites readers on a captivating journey through the rich tapestry of Native American storytelling, leaving a lasting impact on their understanding and appreciation of these diverse indigenous cultures.

First Page:

THE MYTH OF HIAWATHA,

AND

OTHER ORAL LEGENDS, MYTHOLOGIC AND ALLEGORIC,

OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS.

BY

HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT, LL.D.

PHILADELPHIA: J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.

LONDON: TRÜBNER & CO.

1856.

Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by

HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

TO PROF. HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.

SIR:

Permit me to dedicate to you, this volume of Indian myths and legends, derived from the story telling circle of the native wigwams. That they indicate the possession, by the Vesperic tribes, of mental resources of a very characteristic kind furnishing, in fact, a new point from which to judge the race, and to excite intellectual sympathies, you have most felicitously shown in your poem of Hiawatha. Not only so, but you have demonstrated, by this pleasing series of pictures of Indian life, sentiment, and invention, that the theme of the native lore reveals one of the true sources of our literary independence. Greece and Rome, England and Italy, have so long furnished, if they have not exhausted, the field of poetic culture, that it is, at least, refreshing to find both in theme and metre, something new... Continue reading book >>




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