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Badger and Coyote Were Neighbors

Melville Jacobs on Northwest Indian Myths and Tales

William R. Seaburg and Pamela T. Amoss

Northwest Readers

6 × 9 inches. Illus. Bibliography. Index. 320 pages.

2000. ISBN 978-0-87071-473-3. Paperback, $24.95.

"Story story." For the Clackamas Chinook Indians, these words signaled the end of a myth recital. Melville Jacobs spent a lifetime recording traditional stories and studying the life ways of those who told them. An anthropologist and folklorist, Jacobs (1902-1971) made it his life's work to preserve and interpret the fast-disappearing languages and traditions of the Indian peoples of Oregon and Washington. This volume presents an introduction to Jacobs's seminal research and provides an engaging selection of the myths and tales that he painstakingly collected.

In their introduction, the editors provide an overview of Jacobs's remarkable life and career. A professor at the University of Washington, Jacobs, like his mentor Franz Boas, spent months in the field, seeking out and interviewing Native people. A selection of Jacobs's articles and essays on Northwest Indian oral traditions introduce his theory and method of folklore research.

In addition to his own original writings, this volume gathers eighteen stories collected and translated by Jacobs. Eight of the stories include his extensive interpretations, several of which are published here for the first time. The stories represent the range of genres that Jacobs collected and are drawn from many of the Native groups with which he worked, including Chinook, Kalapuya, Sahaptin, and Coos. All the stories were originally collected in the Native languages and translated into English with help from Jacobs's Indian consultants.

Making possible the scholarly understanding and appreciation of Native folk literature was Melville Jacobs's greatest challenge. This volume in the Northwest Readers series is evidence of his success. It offers a valuable introduction to Jacobs's work for anyone interested in the rich folklore of Northwest Indians, as well as for students and scholars of American Indian oral traditions and their interpretation.

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