Cover image for Spirit of the New England tribes : Indian history and folklore, 1620-1984
Title:
Spirit of the New England tribes : Indian history and folklore, 1620-1984
Author:
Simmons, William Scranton, 1938-
Publication Information:
Hanover, N.H. ; London : University Press of New England, 1986.
Physical Description:
xi, 331 pages : 1 map ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780874513707

9780874513721
Format :
Book

On Order

Summary

Summary

Legends, folktales, & traditions of New England Indians reflect historical events & a changing Indian identity over a 365-year period.


Summary

Spanning three centuries, this collection traces the historical evolution of legends, folktales, and traditions of four major native American groups from their earliest encounters with European settlers to the present. The book is based on some 240 folklore texts gathered from early colonial writings, newspapers, magazines, diaries, local histories, anthropology and folklore publications, a variety of unpublished manuscript sources, and field research with living Indians.


Author Notes

WILLIAM S. SIMMONS is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. His other books include Cautantowwit's House (1970), Eyes of the Night: Witchcraft Among a Senegalese People (1971), and Old Light on Separate Ways: The Narragansett Diary of Joseph Fish (1982).


Reviews 4

Library Journal Review

The impact of history upon the folklore of three southern New England tribes is ably demonstrated in this comprehensive collection of folklore narratives of the Mohegan, Narragansett, and Wampanoag Indians. The legends range from the earliest known records to those collected by the author in the 1980s. Simmons arranges the narratives chronologically within given subjects, which allows him to show how folklore reflects the dramatic changes in the lives of these groups. An index of folklore motifs is included. Recommended for academic libraries and folklore collections. Mary B. Davis, Museum of the American Indian Lib., Bronx, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Despite the broader implication of its main title, this book focuses only on four southern New England tribes: Narragansett, Mohegan, Wampanoag (including Mashpee and Gay Head), and Massachusetts. Simmons has labored exhaustively to recover the traditions of these communities from the records of ministers and antiquarians stretching back to the early 17th century. These written sources he has combined with some modern manuscript material and his own fieldwork. Even though some of the texts are very short and others quite corrupted by those who transcribed them, as a sampling of primary resources and a guide to others (it has an excellent bibliography), Simmons's book will certainly become the essential single volume for those interested in the subject. The entire corpus is arranged in topical chapters-``Worldview,'' ``Ghosts,'' ``Giants'' (by far the best)-each of which presents the texts in the order of their publication. This historical order allows Simmons to make inferences about relationships between changes in folklore expression and possible causative factors such as immigration of non-natives, loss of land base, and conversion to Christianity. This analysis is the least satisfying element of the book, not because Simmon's instinctual judgments are unsound-on the contrary, they seem only too correct-but because his topical organization of material requires him to repeat many of his conclusions from chapter to chapter with little space left to develop his ideas. In sum, this is a book with several purposes, not all of which are compatible, but its subject, scope and thoroughness strongly recommend it for all undergraduate and graduate collections.-A.O. Wiget, New Mexico State University


Library Journal Review

The impact of history upon the folklore of three southern New England tribes is ably demonstrated in this comprehensive collection of folklore narratives of the Mohegan, Narragansett, and Wampanoag Indians. The legends range from the earliest known records to those collected by the author in the 1980s. Simmons arranges the narratives chronologically within given subjects, which allows him to show how folklore reflects the dramatic changes in the lives of these groups. An index of folklore motifs is included. Recommended for academic libraries and folklore collections. Mary B. Davis, Museum of the American Indian Lib., Bronx, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Despite the broader implication of its main title, this book focuses only on four southern New England tribes: Narragansett, Mohegan, Wampanoag (including Mashpee and Gay Head), and Massachusetts. Simmons has labored exhaustively to recover the traditions of these communities from the records of ministers and antiquarians stretching back to the early 17th century. These written sources he has combined with some modern manuscript material and his own fieldwork. Even though some of the texts are very short and others quite corrupted by those who transcribed them, as a sampling of primary resources and a guide to others (it has an excellent bibliography), Simmons's book will certainly become the essential single volume for those interested in the subject. The entire corpus is arranged in topical chapters-``Worldview,'' ``Ghosts,'' ``Giants'' (by far the best)-each of which presents the texts in the order of their publication. This historical order allows Simmons to make inferences about relationships between changes in folklore expression and possible causative factors such as immigration of non-natives, loss of land base, and conversion to Christianity. This analysis is the least satisfying element of the book, not because Simmon's instinctual judgments are unsound-on the contrary, they seem only too correct-but because his topical organization of material requires him to repeat many of his conclusions from chapter to chapter with little space left to develop his ideas. In sum, this is a book with several purposes, not all of which are compatible, but its subject, scope and thoroughness strongly recommend it for all undergraduate and graduate collections.-A.O. Wiget, New Mexico State University