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The longhouse here is the seat of government and site of celebrations of the Puget Sound Indians, whose legends are retold as remembered by a Swinomish chief. The introduction to each tells something of its history -- when it was sung or narrated and why--and this entree to folkways gives the stories a fresher and firmer interest: they mattered. ""The Boy and His Magic Robe,"" still widely told, supports the claim of the Swinomish to be the original Puget Sound tribe; it also cautions against wasteful killing and warns that disobedience will be punished. Similarly didactic are the fables purportedly told by the star child during his stay on earth; his fate as the offspring of the Red Star and a disgruntled Indian maiden is recounted earlier. Another illustrates how extreme was the competition for the title of chief hunter, still others demonstrate the powers of medicine men (one of whom divides his practice with a government doctor). A few are presented as particular favorites of the Indian children (like the story of Hoybuska Disha's long toenail) but all are brief and fast-moving. Although a couple are familiar, the group as a whole doesn't duplicate any other and it's well suited to third and fourth graders who are studying Indians intensively in school.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Nelson