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Journal Article

Rumsen Ohlone Folklore: Two Tales

David Kaufman
Journal of Folklore Research
Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sep. - Dec., 2008), pp. 383-391
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40206983
Page Count: 9
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Rumsen Ohlone Folklore: Two Tales
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Abstract

Sadly, it often happens that languages and cultures become dormant with no written record of their existence, of how the people perceived their world, and how they described it through their folk stories. Such would have been the case of the now dormant Rumsen Ohlone language of California were it not for the tireless dedication of linguist John P. Harrington. He spent years collaborating with the last native Speaker of Rumsen, Isabelle Meadows, to discuss her culture and her folk stories. Among the cultural gems that arose from these discussions are the two narratives published here. Both stories feature the trickster figure, Coyote. The first teils of a visit by a sea monster, which causes Coyote's wife to die of fright. The second describes a battle of wits between Coyote and Hummingbird. Both stories give us, through the original Rumsen language, insight into the culture and sense of humor of the Rumsen people, whose descendants still inhabit the central coast of California.

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