Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth and History

SKU: 0815608306

Andrew Wonderley
Grade Levels:
College, University
Iroquois, Oneida, Woodland
Book Type:
Syracuse University Press
Copyright Data:

Sale price$40.95


Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth, and History: New York Oral Narratives from the Notes of H. E. Allen and Others provides an analysis of specific Oneida stories told and recorded in the 1920s. These stories were recounted by Oneida women, Lydia Doxtator (1859-1926) and Anna Johnson (1885-1966). Both women served as cleaning women for medieval scholar Hope Emily Allen (1883-1960). During an illness the non-native woman listened to traditional stories from her domestic help and began serious research on Oneida oral narratives. Her manuscript and notebooks were located by historian Andrew Wonderely in Hamilton College and Syracuse University libraries. These stories appear in publication for the first time. The stories recount ancient accounts about Creation, the Little People, the Thunders, Flying Heads, and Stone Giants. Other stories about animals, ghosts and witches reveal European story lines imposed over Iroquoian specifics. The author is employed by the Oneida Nation of New York and his views are clearly coloured by his employer. However, he manages to draw connections between these Oneida legends and oral narratives to Oneida/Iroquoian material culture of the past. Each chapter is devoted to specific narratives and these are paired with sidebars about the cultural and symbolic importance of Oneida/Iroquoian pottery, longhouses, basketry, the twins, wampum, and clay tobacco pipes. At times he is preoccupied with origin dates for traditional stories and some of his theoretical concepts are dated anthropological ideas. The introduction briefly outlines the personal history of the manuscript writer but is short on describing Wonderley's selection and editing of the stories. The final chapter of the book offers an interesting discussion about the New York Oneidas' land claims and their problem with land loss to the state. This legal battle is paired with the Oneida narrative about the Oneida support of the Americans during the American Revolution and the role of Polly Cooper and her efforts to feed the starving US troops. Throughout the book the author includes illustrations of Oneida material culture and archival photographs of key Oneida storytellers. The knowledge learned about the stories and more importantly the women storytellers and their families make this a valuable addition to the literature about the Oneida People. On the whole, this book makes a valuable contribution to Oneida history and cultural traditions.

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