A well-organized, coherent overview, covering the definition of myths and their place in tribal cultures, types of myths, regional differences, and motif variations. The main body of the text is divided geographically--Greater Brazil, Gran Chaco, Central Andes, etc--and variants of myths held in common are given. As Bierhorst points out, the commonality of motifs coexists with unusual elements and individual myths reflecting the uniqueness of particular tribal cultures. Referring frequently to the extinction of these cultures and to the loss of tales and tribal identities--although the ""peculiar"" geography of South America has preserved some tribal cultures intact in spite of outside influences--Bierhorst presents the myths more as a collection for students of folklore than for pleasure reading. For advanced readers and large folklore/folk-tale collections. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs of artifacts and native drawings. Maps, index.