When Dream Bear Sings


When Dream Bear Sings

Native Literatures of the Southern Plains

Edited by Gus Palmer Jr.
Foreword by Alan R. Velie

Native Literatures of the Americas and Indigenous World Literatures Series

402 pages
1 illustration, 1 map, index


November 2018


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2018


$75.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Although the canon of nineteenth-century Native American writers represents rich literary expression, it derives generally from a New England perspective. Equally rich and rare poetry, songs, and storytelling were produced farther west by Indians residing on the Southern Plains. When Dream Bear Sings is a multidisciplinary, diversified, multicultural anthology that includes English translations accompanied by analytic and interpretive text outlines by leading scholars of eight major language groups of the Southern Plains: Iroquoian, Uto-Aztecan, Caddoan, Siouan, Algonquian, Kiowa-Tanoan, Athabaskan, and Tonkawa.

These indigenous language families represent Indian nations and tribal groups across the Southern Plains of the United States, many of whom were exiled from their homelands east of the Mississippi River to settlements in Kansas and Oklahoma by the Indian Removal Act of the 1830s. Although indigenous culture groups on the Southern Plains are complex and diverse, their character traits are easily identifiable in the stories of their oral traditions, and some of the most creative and unique expressions of the human experience in the Americas appear in this book. Gus Palmer Jr. brings together a volume that not only updates old narratives but also enhances knowledge of indigenous culture through a modern generation’s familiarity with new, evolving theories and methodologies regarding verbal art performance.

Author Bio

Gus Palmer Jr. (Kiowa) is an associate professor of anthropology and Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma, specializing in linguistic anthropology. He is the author of Telling Stories the Kiowa Way.


"This book should appeal to the casual reader who would like a closer look at Native American literature from the Southern Plains, to academics interested in the stories and cultures of the Native American nations of the Southern Plains, and to linguists interested in the nuances of translation by native speakers."—Geneva Harline, Western Folklore

"A diverse collection of texts from each linguistic family of the Native American Southern Plains, When Dream Bear Sings evokes a singular editorial freedom, and in juxtaposing texts crafted in different eras, for different purposes, and by authors of diverse sensitivities, interrogates a paradoxical literary tradition—that of the documentation and revitalization of Native American oral traditions—on its evolution, its promises, and its shortcomings."—Thierry Veyria, Journal of Folklore Research

"Those who are interested in Southern Plains culture will want this book for its authentic presentation of Native languages, its broad and deep survey of texts, and the knowledgeable essays that accompany them."—Marcia Haag, Tribal College Journal

“The vital importance of When Dream Bear Sings cannot be expressed strongly enough. The editor offers the reader multiple, reflective levels of understanding the stories and Native ways of thinking about the world around us.”—Blue Clark, professor of law at Oklahoma City University and author of Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock: Treaty Rights and Indian Law at the End of the Nineteenth Century

“To my knowledge, this is the most comprehensive collection of oral literature of the Plains that has ever been produced. I especially appreciate the diversity of tribal perspectives rendered here and the way that the text accounts for the intricacies, including problems and possibilities, of transcription.”—Lindsey Claire Smith, associate professor of English and affiliate of American Indian studies at Oklahoma State University and editor of American Indian Quarterly

“I celebrate the achievement of When Dream Bear Sings, which offers not only rich translations of extremely valuable literary traditions but also a deeper understanding of the cross-cultural translation process itself. This work and the voices that echo from its pages advance humanist aims in science for a scholarship grounded in human dignity.”—Catharine Mason, associate professor of English and linguistic ethnography at the University of Caen Normandy

“In this wonderful collection of Native American stories from the Southern Plains, Gus Palmer and his host of contributors treat the reader to Indigenous language narratives that allow us, as readers, to hear a variety of Native voices while reading well-crafted translations that deliver the power, beauty, and imagination of the originals.”—Paul V. Kroskrity, professor of anthropology and American Indian studies at UCLA

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Alan R. Velie
1. Algonquian Language Family
Cheyenne Stories and Storytelling Oral Traditions
Gordon Yellowman
The Bear and the Coyote
Translated by Joyce Twins
Cheyenne Story—Dogs Used to Carry Burdens in Days before Horses
Birdie Burns, Cheyenne
Recorded and transcribed by Julia A. Jordan
Cheyenne Story—Man Who Prophesied Coming of Horses and White Men Long Ago
Birdie Burns, Cheyenne
Recorded and transcribed by Julia A. Jordan
How Stories Were Told at Night by an Old Lady
Birdie Burns, Cheyenne
Recorded and transcribed by Julia A. Jordan
Birdie’s Grandmother’s Story of How Corn and Buffalo Were Given to the Cheyennes
Birdie Burns, Cheyenne
Recorded and transcribed by Julia A. Jordan
Absentee Shawnee
Shawnee Poems
Narrated by Pauline Wahpepah
Introduced by Gus Palmer Jr.
The Motorcyclists
Mosiah Bluecloud
The Lenape Story of the Origin of the Woman Dance
Lillie Hoag Whitehorn
Transcribed by Bruce Pearson and James Rementer
Translated by Nora Thompson Dean
Introduced by James Rementer
Myaamia “Story of Fox and Wolf”
Narrated by Kiišikohkwa (Elizabeth Valley) to Albert Gatschet
Introduced by David J. Costa
Pondese: Old Man Winter and Why We Have Spring Today
Translated and introduced by Justin Neely
2. Athabaskan Language Family
Plains Apache
Coyote and Rock Monster: A Plains Apache Tale
Narrated by Alonzo Chalepah Sr.
Transcribed by Harry Hoijer
Reanalyzed and introduced by Sean O’Neill
3. Caddoan Language Family
The Wolf and the Wren
Narrated by Sadie Bedoka Weller
Transcribed by Wallace Chafe
The Old Woman and Her Grandson Blessed by a Voice
Narrated by Dollie Moore, Pitahawirata Pawnee
Translated and introduced by Douglas R. Parks
Interlinear files by Joshua A. Richards
He Goes Over and the Burning Log: A Wolf Story
Narrated by Harry Mad Bear, Skiri Pawnee
Introduced and translated by Douglas R. Parks
Interlinear files by Joshua A. Richards
A Pawnee Story
Narrated, translated, and introduced by Adrian Spottedhorsechief
The Race between the Horse and the Buffalo: An Arikara Narrative
Alfred Morsette (Paatú Kananuuninó, ‘Not Afraid of the Enemy’)
Transcribed and introduced by Douglas R. Parks
Coyote Frees Buffalo
Narrated by Kai Kai, Kitsai
Recorded by Alexander Lesser
Translated and introduced by Joshua A. Richards
Awa:hárikic: Hassí:ri:ha:stírih
Narrated and translated by Bertha Provost
Translated and introduced by David S. Rood
4. Iroquoian Language Family
Translated and introduced by Durbin Feeling
I Shot It, You Shot It
Transcribed and translated by Durbin Feeling
Minnie Thompson Stories
Narrated by Minnie Thompson
Recorded and transcribed by J. W. Tyner
History of the Wyandotte Indians
Donna Elliott Vowel interviewed by J. W. Tyner
5. Kiowa-Tanoan Language Family
Já̱:mátàunhè̱:jègà (Star Girls Story) 
Narrated, transcribed, and translated by Parker P. McKenzie
Retranslated and introduced by Gus pàntha̱i:dê Palmer
6. Siouan Language Family
A Ponca Ghost Story
Narrated by Francis La Flesche
Originally transcribed and translated by James Owen Dorsey
Reanalyzed and introduced by Sean O’Neill
Introduction to Otoe-Missouria
Sky Campbell
The Rabbit and the Grasshoppers: An Otoe Story
Collected by Rev. James Owen Dorsey
The Rabbit and the Mountain: An Otoe Myth
Narrated by Joseph La Flesche
Collected by Rev. James Owen Dorsey
Ponca Omaha
Ponca Omaha Letters Dictated and Taken by James Owen Dorsey
Introduced by Vida Woodhull Stabler
To the Cincinnati Commercial, from several Omahas
Part 1, written by Dúba-Moⁿthiⁿ
Part 2, written by Káxe-Thoⁿba
Part 3, written by Óⁿpʰoⁿ-toⁿga
Part 3, written by Óⁿpʰoⁿ-toⁿga
Part 3, written by Óⁿpʰoⁿ-toⁿga
Part 6, written by Káxe-Thoⁿba
Two Accounts of a Battle between the Kaws and Cheyennes
Narrated by Zhóhiⁿ Máⁿyiⁿ and Paháⁿle Gáxli
Collected by Rev. James Owen Dorsey
Retranscribed, retranslated, and introduced by Justin T. McBride
The Sister and Brother
Translated and introduced by Lance Foster, THPO Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Introduction to Quapaw
Billy Proctor
The Rabbit and the Black Bears: A Dhegiha Myth
Narrated by Alphonsus Valliere
Recorded by James Owen Dorsey
Transcribed by Billy C. Proctor
7. Uto-Aztecan Language Family
Blind Fox and Two Girls
Narrated by Mow-wat
Translated by Juanita Pahdopony
Introduced by Brian Daffron
The Boy Who Turned Into a Snake
Narrated by Dorothy Martinez
Translated by Juanita Pahdopony
Introduced by Brian Daffron
8. Language Isolate
Introduction to Language Isolates
Gus Palmer Jr.
The Young Man Who Became a Shaman: A Tonkawa Myth Story
Transcribed, translated, and introduced by Don Patterson
Text prepared by Miranda Allen Myers

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