King Ævil's Reviews > The Mythology of North America

The Mythology of North America by John Bierhorst
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's review
Oct 10, 2009

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bookshelves: general-nonfiction, 2009

I picked up this book because I am interested in creation myths, but know very little about any apart from Genesis. John Bierhorst's survey of the interrelated myths and creation stories of the major North American Native groups is straightforward and academic—my wife read it for a graduate anthropology class—but is potentially useful to anyone who wishes to explore Native American mythology as art and literature, as it serves as a kind of card catalog for the common stories and their variations across large regions of the continent and among individual tribes. Certain themes (such as an age when animals were mostly human) and characters (like Raven and the trickster, Coyote) are almost universal, but the sacred stories of every tribe are personalized to explain the origin of each clan and ritual.

This volume is not recommended for anyone looking for captivating storytelling—but this overview may help you choose from a rich and diverse treasury of ancient (and a few modern) explanations for how the Earth, the plants and animals, and ourselves came to be.

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