Tiiis collection of narratives was matle among the several divisions of the Blackfoot Intlians during the years 1903-07. Unless otherwise stated, the translations were made by D. C. Duvall, and revised by Clark Wissler. The usual method was to record literal oral translations, which were in turn rendered with some freedom, though the translator's idiom has been retained wherever feasible. In every case, however, both the translator and the editor have sought to reproduce the narrative with the original sequence of incidents and explanatory ideas. In narration the Blackfoot often repeat sentences at irregular intervals, as if they wished to prevent the listener from forgetting their import. naturally such repetitions were eliminated in the translations. A few narratives were recorded as texts. While texts will be indispensable for linguistic research, the present condition of Black- foot mythology is such that its comparative study would not be materially facilitated by such records. Each narrator has his own version, in the telling of which he is usually consistent; and, while the main features of the myths are the same for all, the minor differences are so great that extreme accuracy of detail with one individual would avail little. The method pursued with the most important myths was to discuss them with different individuals, so as to form an opinion as to the most common arrangement of incidents; a statement of such opinions being given as footnotes to those narrations in which great variations were observed. This variable condition may be interpreted as a breaking-down of Blackfoot mythology, but there is another factor to be considered. Myths are told by a few individuals, who take pride in their ability and knowledge, and usually impress their own individuality upon the form of the narrative. Thus it seems equally probable that the various versions represent individual contributions, and, in a certain sense, are the ownership-marks of the narrators. Once when discussing this matter with a Blood Indian, the venerable old man pulled up a common ragweed, saying, "The parts of this weed all branch off from the stem. They go different ways, but all come from the same root. So it is with the different versions of a myth." Hence, to say that any one version of these myths is correct would be preposterous, because they have the same root.

 

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Mythology of the Blackfoot Indians - C Wissler & D Duvall 1908

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