Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish (Paperback)

Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish By Thelma Adamson (Editor), William R. Seaburg (Introduction by), Laurel B. Sercombe (Introduction by) Cover Image

Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish (Paperback)

By Thelma Adamson (Editor), William R. Seaburg (Introduction by), Laurel B. Sercombe (Introduction by)


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First published in 1934, this collection of tales was recorded and edited by Thelma Adamson (1901–83), a student of Franz Boas and one of the first women to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in the Pacific Northwest. A major contribution to our knowledge of western Washington Salish oral traditions, Folk-Tales of the Coast Salishcontains 190 texts from nineteen consultants—most collected in English or in English translation.

The 155 stories represent Upper Chehalis and Cowlitz Salish narrative traditions, primarily myths and tales, and constitute the largest published body of oral literature for either of these groups. Adamson included as many as four variants of the same tale-type, and Adele Froehlich prepared a useful forty-three-page section of abstracts with comparative notes from eight regional text collections.

Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish provides a rich data source for those interested in the content and comparative analysis of Native texts told in English. With few exceptions, the tales refer to the time “when all the animals were people.” This new edition enhances Adamson’s seminal work with the inclusion of a biographical sketch of Adamson and of her friend and noted ethnomusicologist George Herzog, who produced the appended music transcriptions.  

William R. Seaburg is a professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell. He is the coauthor of Coquelle Thompson, Athabaskan Witness: A Cultural Biography and the editor of Pitch Woman and Other Stories: The Oral Traditions of Coquelle Thompson, Upper Coquille Athabaskan Indian (Nebraska 2007). Laurel Sercombe is ethnomusicology archivist in the School of Music at the University of Washington.