The fourteen stories presented in this collection were secured during 1913 and 1914 among the Central Sierra Miwok of Tuolumne County, California. Three, which are exceedingly brief, were told by William Fuller of Soulsbyville. The remaining eleven were obtained from Thomas Williams of Jamestown, whose picture appears in plate 6.
All are sentence-by-sentence translations into English of myths which were recorded in Miwok on the phonograph.
These stories were formerly related at night in the Circular assembly houses of the Miwok. Certain men versed in the myths often
travelled from village to village telling the tales in the assembly house of each village. Such a raconteur was known as an utentbe, a name derived from utne, a myth. Each utentbe was paid for his services, his audience presenting him with baskets, beads, furs, and food. Thomas Williams, who was formerly an utentbe, said that the telling of a myth often took all night. Not infrequently the myth was chanted. Each myth, whether chanted or told in ordinary prose, was accompanied by the songs of the various characters. For example, with the story of Prairie Falcon's Marriage belong three songs, one sung by Prairie Falcon, one by his wife, and one by his father.
A comprehensive collection of Miwok myths, including a number from the Central Sierra Miwok, has been published by Dr. C. Hart Merriam. 1 Stephen Powers includes three Miwok myths in his "Tribes of California." 2 Dr. A. L. Kroeber has printed a number of Southern Sierra Miwok myths. 3
284:1 The Dawn of the World: Myths and Weird Tales told by the Mewan Indians of California, A. H. Clark Co., 1910, Cleveland, O.
284:2 Contrib. N. Am. Ethn., III, 358, 366, 367, 1877.
284:3 Indian Myths of South Central California, Univ. Calif. Publ. Am. Arch, Ethn., iv, 202, 1907.