Teresa Pijoan,
White Wolf Woman & Other Native American Transformation Myths
(August House, 1992)

Teresa Pijoan grew up in Espanola, New Mexico. Her family ran a store at San Juan Pueblo and her father was the pueblo's doctor. She learned the Tewa language at a young age and was chosen to become one of the storyholders. She has collected more than 600 stories from tribes across the country and shares a few here in White Wolf Woman & Other Native American Transformation Myths.

This book contains 37 stories from a diverse group of tribes. Pijoan grouped them into four sections: "Snakes," "Wolves," "Bears" and "Other Animals." Each section includes an introduction by Pijoan about those particular animals and their symbolism for Native Americans. She tells about the snake ceremonies, creation stories, Pueblo bear hunting and the Hiniati rite of passage for a young man making his first bear kill.

There is a wonderful introduction by Richard and Judy Dockery Young that tells about Pijoan and transformation myths and their realities. It gives a broad comparison of Native American stories to those of other cultures and looks at general basics of the spirit world.

The afterword explains more about how myths reflect the culture, beliefs, topography and particular life forms of a tribe. The story notes relate Pijoan's experiences with the persons who told the stories to her. Some of these are intriguing stories themselves.

I am not going to list the 37 stories, but will assure you that there is not a bad one in the bunch. All are fine reading and I thoroughly enjoyed each one.

If you are developing a program of stories, this is a solid reference. If you are looking for an entertaining read, you have found it and need look no farther. If you are studying folklore, this book includes stories from 25 different tribes.

White Wolf Woman & Other Native American Transformation Myths is a marvelous book that will provide countless hours of pleasure.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

27 September 2008

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