When Europeans first arrived on this continent, Algonquian languages were spoken from the northeastern seaboard through the Great Lakes region, across much of Canada, and even in scattered communities of the American West. The rich and varied oral tradition of this Native language family, one of the farthest-flung in North America, comes brilliantly to life in this remarkably broad sampling of Algonquian songs and stories from across the centuries. Ranging from the speech of an early unknown Algonquian to the famous Walam Olum hoax, from retranslations of “classic” stories to texts appearing here for the first time, these are tales written or told by Native storytellers, today as in the past, as well as oratory, oral history, and songs sung to this day.
An essential introduction and captivating guide to Native literary traditions still thriving in many parts of North America, Algonquian Spirit contains vital background information and new translations of songs and stories reaching back to the seventeenth century. Drawing from Arapaho, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Cree, Delaware, Maliseet, Menominee, Meskwaki, Miami-Illinois, Mi'kmaq, Naskapi, Ojibwe, Passamaquoddy, Potawatomi, and Shawnee, the collection gathers a host of respected and talented singers, storytellers, historians, anthropologists, linguists, and tribal educators, both Native and non-Native, from the United States and Canada—all working together to orchestrate a single, complex performance of the Algonquian languages.