Pitch Woman and Other Stories

Pitch Woman and Other Stories

The Oral Traditions of Coquelle Thompson, Upper Coquille Athabaskan Indian

Edited and with an introduction by William R. Seaburg
Collected by Elizabeth D. Jacobs

Native Literatures of the Americas and Indigenous World Literatures Series


Paperback

April 2012

978-0-8032-4494-8

$25.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

May 2007

978-0-8032-0622-9

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About the Book

The rich oral traditions of the Athabaskan Indians from southwestern Oregon are showcased in these pages for the first time. This volume features vivid and humorous tales of familiar Tricksters: Coyote, known for his unusual sexual prowess and escapades that often go awry; the vain and gullible Grizzly Bear; and Raccoon, often greedy and ever elusive. The collection also includes the less familiar but all-too-human stories of Pitch Woman, Little Man, the unicorn-like Hollering-Like-a-Person, and other local figures, all of which add to the wealth of Native oral literature in the Pacific Northwest.
 
In 1935 Elizabeth D. Jacobs conducted ethnographic fieldwork with survivors of several Athabaskan cultures living on the Siletz Reservation. Her work preserves the forty-seven stories recorded here as recounted by Upper Coquille consultant Coquelle Thompson Sr., an accomplished storyteller who lived through the Rogue River Wars of 1855–56. His tribal community was evicted from its homeland and resettled with other Athabaskan groups on the Siletz Reservation, where he lived for ninety years.
 
This volume offers a behind-the-scenes look at the collection of oral accounts, a sketch of Upper Coquille Athabaskan culture, an examination of Thompson’s storytelling, and extended analyses of four stories, including “Pitch Woman.” The reader is encouraged to “listen” to the stories with an ear attuned both to the storyteller himself and to the stories’ own cultural context.

Author Bio

William R. Seaburg is a professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell. He is the editor and annotator of The Nehalem Tillamook: An Ethnography by Elizabeth D. Jacobs, and the coauthor of Coquelle Thompson, Athabaskan Witness: A Cultural Biography. Elizabeth D. Jacobs (1903–83) was mentored in anthropology by her husband, the noted anthropologist Melville Jacobs.

Praise

"This book is a gift to anthropology, linguistics, and folklore . . . . A chapter in which Seaburg isolates and analyzes four particular tales is valuable and rich. . . . [T]his important work chronicles a person who represents a largely undocumented and little-known Native American group."—CHOICE

“Seaburg employs an easy style that avoids heavy scholarly jargon while using linguistic terms appropriately. . . . This book will become an essential volume and reference work to add to any library, personal or public, of Northwest Coast Indigenous anthropology or ethnohistory. Tribal scholars will appreciate its references to other similar oral histories throughout Oregon, Washington, and California. Because the oral histories are all presented in English, there will be a wide audience of folklorists, ethno-poetics, and scholars of other disciplines. Linguists may seek the book, as there are rare uses of Coquille language.”—Oregon Historical Quarterly

"A substantial corpus of well-told narratives from the Oregon coast, a region from which few such things have appeared in print, is self-recommending to anyone concerned with native literatures of the Northwest. But this well-presented collection should repay the attention of other readers as well."—Paul D. Kroeber, Journal of Folklore Research

“Though referencing many technical elements of the oral tradition, Pitch Woman and Other Stories is accessible to all audiences. Seaburg is to be applauded for this sensitive and exemplary rendering of oral narratives in this written text. The process revealed is one of honesty and of care for the ‘voices’ of Thompson, as well as of Jacobs and even of himself.”—Pacific Northwest Quarterly

Table of Contents

List of Map, Illustrations, and Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xi

Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv

Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii

1. Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

2. An Upper Coquille Athabaskan Cultural Sketch . . . . 31

3. Features of Style and Performance in

Coquelle Thompson’s Storytelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

4. Analyses of Four Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

Pitch Woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Little Man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

A Man Grows a Snake in a Bucket . . . . . . . . . . . 88

Panther and Deer Woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

5. Oral Traditional Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131

The Flood. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132

Moon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136

Pitch Woman (2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140

Pitch Woman (3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143

Pitch Woman (4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

Mean Warrior. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146

Star . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Coyote and God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

Coyote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159

Wind Woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172

Rabbit’s Son and the Grizzly Bears . . . . . . . . . . 179

The Woman Who Married the Sea Wolf . . . . . . 185

Raccoon and His Grandmother . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189

Panther and the Grizzly Bears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193

Coyote Jim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

The Wolf Person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202

Coyote and Wolf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205

How Land Came into Being. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218

A Man Followed His Wife to

the Land of the Dead (Orpheus) . . . . . . . . . . . . 221

Mountain People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227

Robin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228

Coyote Jim Gives the Law on Gambling . . . . . . 230

Coyote Gives the Law on Death. . . . . . . . . . . . . 233

Frog Woman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234

Raccoon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235

Big Head (Cannibal) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237

Skunk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239

Snake and Money. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240

Brown Bear and Grizzly Bear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243

Sun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245

Gambler and Snake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245

Little Man (2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250

Wren and His Grandmother. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252

Coyote and His Two Daughters . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255

Coyote Becomes a Steelhead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258

Hollering-like-a-Person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259

Penis and Vulva: Origin of Sex Knowledge . . . 260

Crow Eats Feces, Marries a Woman . . . . . . . . . 261

A Girl Is Ill with Desire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261

Gray Eagle and Snowbird Gamble. . . . . . . . . . . 263

Weasel and His Older Brother . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263

Coyote Jim and His Neighbor Crane . . . . . . . . . 266

Grizzly Wants Red-Headed

Woodpecker Scalps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268

Afterword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271

Appendix 1. A Comparison of Jacobs’s and

Harrington’s Text Transcription Styles . . . . . . . . . . . 275

Appendix 2. A Note on Orthography

and Pronunciation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279

Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283

References Cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 307

Awards

2007 Outstanding Academic Book, sponsored by Choice Magazine, selection

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