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The Foreword by Joe Medicine Crow to "Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation" by Paul Goble

The "Foreword," by Dr. Joe Medicine Crow, to

Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation (World Wisdom, 2009)

by Paul Goble

 

Paul Goble has done a good job of presenting the Plains Indian story of creation. There are different variations of this story told among the many tribes; even the Crow people have different variations of the legend about creation. Most of the Crow stories identify Old Man Coyote as the name of the Earth Maker. It is said that long, long ago there was no land—everything was water. Old Man Coyote said, “Let us make land” and sent a duck down into the depths to look for mud. When the duck came up he was unconscious—almost dead—but there was a little bit of mud in his beak. The Earth Maker took this mud and with his medicine power he fashioned it into land. When he finished the world was beautiful, but there was no one to enjoy it. So he sent the duck back down into the depths once again. After the duck returned to the surface the Earth Maker took the mud and made the first man and woman. The storytellers can go on with their account for hours when they add the many details and variations.

In my youth, the storytellers who educated the young children were immediate family members—the grandfathers and grandmothers were our teachers. I remember that my grandfather, whose name was Yellowtail, was my main teacher. I followed him around wherever he went. When he went to go take a sweat bath, I would follow him. While the rocks were heating he told stories like this one. I was fortunate as a boy because so many storytellers were ready to educate the young. Now the television is on all the time and the children no longer follow the elders—they don’t take the time to listen to their grandparents. In today’s world it is difficult to learn about the olden-day stories, so books that preserve this wisdom have great value.

It is important that our young ones read books about traditional life and values, not just the Indians but all traditional peoples. Paul Goble has created many good books about our Indian ways. He creates good illustrations that accurately present our traditional costumes and crafts. He does careful research to be certain that his stories are authentic and he speaks with the elders to know what they think. The good result is there for all to see.

Joe Medicine Crow
Lodge Grass, Montana