Myth-Folklore Unit: Native American Marriage Tales

Overview. Stith Thompson's anthology, Tales of the North American Indians, was a pioneering work in comparative studies of Native American storytelling. This reading selection contains Thompson's stories of animal brides and animal husbands, along with some fairytale-type stories that are a blending of European and Native American storytelling styles. The tales come from a variety of different tribes, including Inuit, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Zuni, and other traditions as well. Among the animal brides are a mysterious she-fox, plus a she-buffalo who lives for a time with her human husband, along with a deer who brings her human husband to live among the deer people. There are animal husbands too, including a dog, a buffalo, an eagle, and even a killer whale!

Language. Thompson's book is an anthology of stories takes from various anthropological sources, written in a variety of styles. Some of the stories are told in a more traditional oral style, while other stories are edited in a style more like literary prose.

Story Length. This unit contains stories of various lengths, including stories that are just one page long, as well as stories that are two or three pages long, and one four-page-long story.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Native American Marriage Tales. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. The Piqued Buffalo-Wife
  2. Bear-Woman and Deer-Woman
  3. Splinter-Foot-Girl
  4. Splinter-Foot-Girl (cont.)
  5. Splinter-Foot-Girl (end)
  6. The Eagle and Whale Husbands
  7. The Fox-Woman
  8. The Woman Stolen by Killer Whales
  9. The Rolling Head
  10. The Bear-Woman
  11. The Bear-Woman (cont.)
  1. The Dog-Husband
  2. The Youth Who Joined the Deer
  3. The Youth Who Joined the Deer (cont.)
  4. The Girl and the Turkeys
  5. The Girl and the Turkeys (cont.)
  6. The Girl and the Turkeys (end)
  7. The True Bride
  8. The True Bride (cont.)
  9. The True Bride (cont. again)
  10. The True Bride (end)