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Skunny Wundy: Seneca Indian Tales by Arthur…

Skunny Wundy: Seneca Indian Tales

by Arthur C. Parker

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Originally published in 1926, this collection of traditional folktales from the Seneca Indians focuses on the doings of the animal nations, long before the advent of human beings. These stories offer an explanation - through their rivalries and friendships, adventures and misadventures - of how the various animals came to have the appearance and qualities we have come to associate with them. They also teach the listener (or reader) how and how not to behave...

To the reader who appreciates a fine animal fable, some of the qualities elaborated upon will come as no surprise: Fox is wily, and Turtle keeps to himself. Other characterizations might be less expected, as when Toad is revealed as a brave and loyal friend (Toad Brother's Warts and the Peeper's Peep). The mix of familiar and unfamiliar makes for an entertaining and lively read.

I have long been a fan of folk and fairy tales of all kinds, and this was no exception. Animal tales have an appeal that is universal, I believe, but they also reflect the belief systems of the specific cultures from which they spring. I was particularly struck by the vision of Creation as expressed in some of these tales. In The Owl's Big Eyes, we are told that Ra-wen-io, the Masterful One (the Creator) was "making the animals and birds as they wanted to be." I found the idea that the Creator would share the act of creation with the created to be very moving - not that everything always turned out quite as the animals expected (does anything?).

The only discordant note in the collection, for me, was the negative portrayal of the wolves. I was surprised at this, as I had always thought that distrust of this species was something more common in European beliefs. It makes me a little sad to see this beautiful and very social animal stigmatized... But other than this, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, and recommend it to all folktale enthusiasts. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jun 5, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur C. Parkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bruchac, JosephForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hannell, George R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
A collection of animal folktales from the Seneca Nation, including: Skunny Wundy Tricks Old Fox / How Fox and Raccoon Tricked One Another / Raccoon and the Three Roasting Geese / How the Wood Duck Got His Red Eyes and Sojy Had His Coat Spoiled / Wink, the Lazy Bird, and the Red Fox / Why Ted-Oh, the Woodchuck, Climbs a Tree / How Joeagah, the Raccoon, Ate the Crabs / The Owl's Big Eyes / The Woeful Tale of Long Tail Rabbit and Long Tail Lynx / How the Rabbit's Lip Was Split / Ossedah, the Rabbit Gambler / How Chief Bear Lost His Tail / The Buffalo and the Mean Old Bear / The Porcupine's Quills / The Mink and the Eagle / The Box Tortoise's Shell / How the Bluebird Gained the Color of the Sky and the Gray Wolf Gained and Lost It / Turtle Gains a Long Neck and Reveals That He is Good for Soup / How the Conifers Flaunt the Promise of Spring / The Turtle's War Party / How Turtle Won the Race With Beaver / Turtle Run a Race With Bear / The Grand Sagamore Who Wandered Afar / The Buffalo's Hump and the Brown Birds / Toad Brother's Warts and the Peeper's Peep / How Moose and Turkey Scalped the Giants / Weasel and Old Snowy Owl / The Ghost of the Great White Stag.
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These tales introduce the rich tradition of the Seneca Indians.

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