American Indian Myths and Legends Book Review

Stories and legends often represent the heart and soul of a culture.  They tell tale of creation of life, the supernatural, higher beings, and even explain such miniscule things as why the crow is black and why a beaver’s tale is flat.

Perhaps the greatest storytelling culture is that of the American Indian…a culture so committed and dedicated to oral history, myths, and legends.  In Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz’s colorful collection, American Indian Myths and Legends, nearly 200 stories help give reason to creation, life and death, spirits, love, human and animal relations, and thoughts on war and warrior code.  People familiar with traditional Native American stories might recognize some of these stories, and will definitely remember familiar faces like Iktome, Glooskap, and the ever so clever Coyote.

As is the case with most myths and legends, these stories are meant to teach a lesson; therefore, many of the tales in this collection deal with more adult themes, such as sexual intercourse, rape, incest, and murder.  While those tales are few and far between, the remainder of the book is filled with comical and meaningful tales meant to teach children and adults how to be good people.  Even those with no knowledge of the Native American culture will find it easy to take something away from one, if not all, of these stories.  You may even recognize themes from your own cultural history, such as mass floods, mystical saviors, and the creation of man and beast.

American Indian Myths and Legends is a great read for any story lover.  It is easily organized into major themes and each story is no more than 2-3 pages.  Since these are the tales of a culture solely based on oral history, many believe that one cannot get the full effect of a Native American legend without reading it out loud…so gather friends and family around the campfire and pass the book around.  You might be surprised at what you learn…

NEXT WEEK:  By the time Jenna Massoli was 16, she had accomplished more in her life than many 30 year olds.  She was making thousands of dollars a night performing, had numerous modeling jobs with various magazines, and had already starred in a few movies.  Never heard of her?  Well, you won’t find her movies on Netflix, that’s for sure…

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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