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p. 201



These tales were recorded in a native house in Cochiti open to all comers. This means, of course, to those who know the pueblos, that this is a selected group of tales. It includes the hero tales, the animal tales, the remade European tales, but only the culminating incident of the origin tale. There is no story in this volume like the one recorded in Washington from a visiting Acoma priest by Matthew W. Stirling, and no elaborate ritualistic tales such as we have, for instance, from Laguna, in Professor Boas's text of the Girl and the Witches, 1 and only less clearly from San Juan in Doctor Parsons's variant of the Deserted Child Guided by Awl. 2 The absence of stories of these two types in this collection is by no means to be set down to their absence in Cochiti, but to the taboo that makes it disloyalty to tell them to the whites, even when the white friend is accepted and valued.

The origin tale appears here only in unsatisfactory fragments, but in spite of the fact that the Rio Grande taboo against the whites is directed particularly against their seeing a masked dancer or a masked dance, there is no blanket taboo against katcina tales and accounts of katcina dancing.

The translations by Professor Boas are especially valuable in that they give the mythological style of the Rio Grande, its prolixity, its meticulousness in the matter of greetings and farewells, its elaborate specifications of directions, and its comparatively simple sentences.

Besides the texts collected by Professor Boas, and the tales I collected, the former of which appear in translation and the latter in the form in which they were recorded in the present volume, the abstracts discussed here include the only other folkloristic material that is available from Cochiti, the tales gathered by Father Noël Dumarest before 1900. 3

I have grouped the abstracts to show: (1) the mythological concepts of Cochiti, their notion of creation, so far as we know it, their

p. 202

pantheon, and the first people; (2) its hero tales, identifying the various hero personalities and their exploits; (3) the fictionalized versions of pueblo life that constitute the great bulk of their folklore, emphasizing the situations that have seemed to them vivid or poignant enough to be singled out of their daily life for novelistic treatment. With these tales I have included the little animal fables and moral tales, which are a noticeable Cochiti development; (4) animal tales, emphasizing the character ascribed to the animal actors; (5) the European tales, which in their slight modification from their prototypes are an excellent indication of the amount of European influence to which the pueblo has been exposed; (6) the "true stories" or Cochiti versions of history. This last group I have not abstracted.

The greater part of this body of folklore falls into the group I have called fiction, and which consists of novelized versions of pueblo incidents. It is of the greatest importance in the understanding of most mythology to accept folklore of this sort for what it is. The cultures we see reflected in bodies of myths are often so alien to us and the plots so unfamiliar that it escapes us that the bizarre tale is really a novelistic treatment of some often recurring situation among that people. Or we become so engrossed in tracking the distribution of an incident that we forget to see that in a given tribe it is made a part of a deeply felt conjugal crisis, and in another of the shameful abandonment of a child. We have been misled also by the comparative ossification of European folklore, and drift easily into the assumption that myth preserves out-dated customs or philosophy. This is a characteristic rather of folklore that has become formal and stereotyped, not of a living folklore. While the folkloristic impulse is still active among any people they are likely to turn constantly to their own daily life for themes. This is markedly true in Cochiti. In so far as myth is of value for the study of culture, it is precisely from this angle that we must read their tales.


201:1 Keresan Texts, by Franz Boas. Publications of the American Ethnological Society, Vol. VIII, pt. 1. New York, 1928, p. 56. Quoted Boas.

201:2 Tewa Tales, by Elsie Clews Parsons. Memoirs of the American Folklore Society. New York, 1926, p. 52. Quoted Parsons.

201:3 Loc. cit.

Next: I. Origin Tales and Stories of the Katcinas and the Societies