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When the Storm God Rides, by Florence Stratton, collected by Bessie M. Reid [1936], at

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The Indian legends in this book have been collected by Mrs. Bruce Reid of Port Arthur, Texas, during forty years of travel over Texas as a naturalist. Mrs. Reid gathered these stories directly from full-blooded Indians or from persons who had Indian blood in their veins or from others long closely associated with Indians and familiar with stories recounted by their parents and grandparents.

A few of the legends probably have filtered in to the Tejas Indians from the ancient Mayan Indians of the Isthmus of Yucatan. "When the Storm God Rides" likely is of Mayan origin. The legend "How Sickness Came Into the World" was obtained by Mrs. Reid from the late Chief Sun Kee of the Alabama tribe in east Texas. "The Swift Blue One" undoubtedly is of Comanche origin, for it was the horse that gave Comanches their power. The bluebonnet legend, with that of the blanket flower, point also to a Comanche beginning.

From the late Jack Mitchell, a Texas hunter and a Texas ranger, a man familiar with stories known to a group of Texas Indian hunters long his close friends, the legends of the bluebonnet, the magnolia babies and many others were obtained. Jack Mitchell secured

p. vi

legends from his uncle, François Michel of New Orleans, one of that large company of French-Indian traders who often associated intimately with the aboriginals. Mitchell's wife and children are well known in southeast Texas, where they live. Mrs. Mitchell says that François Michel "sailed with Lafitte," and was related remotely to the noted buccaneer of the Louisiana-Texas coast. Although Michel's expeditions often took him well into the interior of Texas, the bulk of his trading in furs and hides was mainly done with the agricultural tribes west of the Sabine River. The trader's acquaintance with the Indian legends grew through his contacts with Indians in the course of trading in guns, knives, feathers, furs and trinkets. Campfire talks yielded many stories.

The most reliable guides in determining the origin of Indian legends are locale and subject matter. Legends of the Spanish moss and the iris, for instance, in all likelihood came from the Indians of east Texas, where this moss and this flower are most prolific. Different legends dealing with the same subject have sufficient similarity to show that they came from the same source; of such similarity are two bluebonnet stories, one involving the sacrifice of an Indian maiden of the Mexican tablelands and the other, which is included in this volume, dealing with a little Indian girl's sacrificing of her doll. The essential similarity of tales differing in details gives confidence to ethnologists investigating the folklore of the American Indian.

p. vii

Some of these stories are known to be several hundred years old. Others are so old as to have their origins shrouded in the mists of time. The fact that in these legends is so seldom mentioned the horse, the forerunners of which became extinct in North America at a very early time, and which had to be introduced to the known tribes of Indians by the white man, is strong evidence of the antiquity of the stories.

The anonymous authorship of nearly all old folklore is characteristic of Indian legends. Although collected in Texas it is certain that the legends include material from the Southwest as a whole and have undergone alterations from time to time while passing from one tribe to another and also through breed and purely white sources. Indians were in general a roving people; the discovery in Louisiana and Texas of artifacts of obsidian and copper, materials not native to the region, exemplifies this well-known fact. It is but natural that not only the weapons and implements but also the cultures of different groups and different periods should become rather widely dispersed.

The illustrations, by Berniece Burrough, are combinations of authentic Indian symbols, and are the result of careful research.



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