Author Archives: dodgingh

Native Version of “Hansel and Gretel”

Main Piece:

Informant: Ok, so there is like a legend and you know how Natives, they travel? Like, when one place kinda dries out or doesn’t have any buffalo or food, they move to the next place.  Well, that kinda like happened. There was these children and their mom asked them to get berries before they left. They kinda got distracted when they were picking berries. And when they came back they had already left. So they went and said, “ok, maybe this is the way they went.” They went and found a small cottage and, so this is kinda like a Native story of Hansel and Gretel. So they knocked and the lady welcomed them in and got them food and stuff. And then that night when they went to bed and the lady thought they were asleep she started singing a song about eating them. And then they secretly got out of their beds and slowly looked and when the lady, when they were sure the lady got into bed they saw their little sister in a cage. So they had to quickly get her out of it. And they escaped, but the witch was coming after them, because they heard her. But the end of this story can change either way, like they got home safely, or the witch ate them. But the good way is that they got out to a place where the witch couldn’t go and the witch was blocked off by this force field, or something like that. And then they went safely looking for their family and their tribe. And the bad way, is that she got them and ate them.

Background:

The informant is a ten-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in fourth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. My sisters and I were sharing stories one night when I asked if she recalled any old stories she heard.

Thoughts:

I have heard many variations of this story growing up. I’m curious to know how much it has evolved over the years, especially after European contact. It was interesting to hear my sister’s take on it. It shares many similarities with the Hansel and Gretel story; children lost in the woods who stumble across the home of an old woman. She takes them in and is later revealed conspiring to eat them. The villainous hag is a common trope in stories worldwide. In folklore, a crone is an old woman who may be disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in nature. She often has magical or supernatural abilities which can make her either helpful or obstructing. It is also a reversal of the nurturing and protective role a women traditionally plays in a child’s life, though historically, the most power person in a child’s life is the mother, so perhaps it is just a pendulum dynamic.

Double Rainbow

Main Piece:

Informant: I’m starting the story now. Ok, well there is like a lot of different things that rainbows represent. One of them is that if you see a double rainbow, never look in between the double rainbows because that is the darkest point, or one of the darkest areas. People say that is where spirits and other things enter into the world.

Interviewer: So, it’s like a portal?

Informant: Yeah, it’s like a portal.

Interviewer: Whoa. Can you elaborate on that? Do you know anything else about it?

Informant: No, that’s just about it. I don’t really know exactly how she said it. But she said the singular rainbow, like we see in the Bible, represents happiness and peaceful, hopefulness. But this double rainbow is just like, not really cursed, but a darker version of it.

Interviewer: Like a shadow world?

Informant: Yeah, exactly. Like a shadow world.

Background:

The informant is a sixteen-year-old Native American girl from the Lakota and Navajo Nations.

She was born in South Dakota, grew up in Tennessee, and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is a freshman in high school and frequently spends her time reading conspiracies and odd stories on the internet (don’t we all?).

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. She was in the kitchen making a salad when asked if she knew any interesting stories or legends. 

Thoughts:

Rainbows have played a significant role in narratives across time. From Noah’s Ark to Pride, they have been a beacon for hope and positive change. For others, an omen to be wary of. One common belief is that rainbows are a bridge, a portal between worlds, a path between heaven and earth. With the popularization of the multiverse, inter-dimensional travel, and long standing traditions that acknowledge the spirit world, it is interesting to imagine other worlds, especially the unseen one that lingers just out of sight.

The Ensworth Ghost

Main Piece:

Informant: Ok, so like this woman’s children’s birthday, she had twin girls. A day before their birthday, she had gone missing. And there was no word from her, no anything. And this was right around the time my school was building our theatre. They were just putting the foundation down and everything. And a few weeks later they had traces that led them believing her body remains were in the foundation of our theater hall. And they later convicted her husband of murdering her and burying her remains in the foundation of the school. And so they say that her spirit still walks the halls. And so, sometimes, when teachers are there all alone, or on Saturdays, or even janitors, they’ll hear the elevator rise and open, even when nobody is in. And they’ll hear someone will go from their office to the elevator, and they’ll have to rise the elevator again, even though it was already risen before. And so, it’s little things like that, like doors slamming.

And so one time in my science class, the door was open and all of a sudden the door slammed shut. And this kid goes, “Oh that’s our friendly ghost.” But he didn’t know there actually was a ghost there.” And the teacher was like, “how do you know about her?” Kinda like joking around. And he was like, “Oh, yea. Me and Janet are best friends.” And then my teacher looked at him and said, “how do you know her name?” And he was like, “what do you mean?” Because at first he was kidding around and made up the name Janet. And it turns out, that was the ghost’s name.

Interviewers has to come in : No way.

Informant: And so, without even knowing there was an actual ghost there, he had named her her exact name. And the rest of the science class was weirded out by that. But that’s when my teacher began to tell us about all the different little things that would happen, like doors opening and shutting, elevators going up and down, or wood creaking on the stairs when nobody is there, or lights shutting on and off. And so that is the story of our friendly ghost.

Background:

The informant is a fourteen-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in eighth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. We were in the garage when I asked if she knew any interesting stories or legends. She told me about a ghost that is said to haunt her middle school.

Thoughts:

Not only did the ghost story arise during building construction, it is an urban legend that haunts a middle school, a transitional time for students. New teachers. New peers. New School. Legends have the ability to provide meaning in a chaotic social environment. The role of spirits play a large part in our culture, challenging our perceptions of linear time and dimension. Spirits have also been seen as a way of changing mentalities and conflicts that appear between theology and popular thought. They are a reflection of our own social insecurities and change that remains incomprehensible. Ultimately, legends and supernatural phenomena become a way of coping and interpreting the unknown and dealing with situations that remain beyond human control. 

Jingle Dress Origin

Main Piece:

Informant: So the story behind the Jingle Dress dance is about a girl who was really sick and her dad really wanted her to get better. And he had a vision or a dream, one of those two, and if you put a 100 shells on a dress, cause that’s how they used to make them, and if she dances for 21 days, or something like that, then she would be healed. And he did exactly what, uh, it told him to and she was healed. Not they call the jingle dress dress dance a healing dance. But, that’s just like one of the different stories of why it was like that. There are multiple stories and things like that. But that’s the one I heard.

Interviewer: What other variations are there?

Informant: Well, that’s the only one I know, but other people say there are more.

Background:

The informant is a ten-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in fourth grade. She is also an Old-Fashioned jingle dress dancer which originates from the Ojibwe people. It is referred to as a healing dance and can be seen at Native American powwows across the United States and Canada.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. I asked if she could describe for me the origin story behind the jingle dress dance. 

Thoughts:

One of the greatest gifts given to mankind was movement. Along with the ability to think, we are able to actively engage with our environment. As Albert Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves.” Dance has long been a part of human culture, and in many cases, a key component in ritual and prayer. The jingle dress dance emphasizes the healing properties that dance can have on the mind and body. There are many variations of this story, such goes folklore. The jingle dress dance comes from the Ojibwe people and can be seen at powwows across the United States and Canada.

Old Woman Scratching the Tipi Walls

Main Piece:

Informant: We wouldn’t go to sleep and it was getting really, really late. And the younger kids were still awake. My older cousins and my older sisters would tell us that if we didn’t go to bed there is an old woman with really long nails that would scrape her nails along the outside of the tipi. She said that every time you talked or were loud, even laughed or anything, she would come closer and closer. And you knew she was about to take you when you start hearing her nails on the tipi, on the tipi canvas. It would start on the opposite side of the tipi and get closer and closer until it went passed you to the door. Then she would grab you and take you to the coulees. 

Background:

The informant is a fourteen-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in eighth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. Admittedly, I may or may not have told her this story long ago. We were cleaning the kitchen and I asked if she remembered any old stories she heard while growing up.

Thoughts:

There is a story about the lost children who get separated from their camp. Lost in the woods, they stumble across the home of an old woman. She takes them in and is later revealed conspiring to eat them. The villainous hag is a common trope in stories worldwide. In folklore, a crone is an old woman who may be disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in nature. She often has magical or supernatural abilities which can make her either helpful or obstructing. It is also a reversal of the nurturing and protective role a women traditionally plays in a child’s life, though historically, the most power person in a child’s life is the mother, so perhaps it is just a pendulum dynamic. The part shared above is a bit of a tag on, a tail end used to make sure children kept in line. It also shows the use of spirits as a disciplinary measure, serving as a warning when you edge too close to certain bounds.

Wealthy Man Riddle

Main Piece:

Informant: There was a very wealthy businessman and a woman on a flight who was sitting right next to each other. And the woman was just trying to get some sleep on her flight. But the wealthy businessman was like bored out of his mind so he decided to give the woman a trick. He said, “I’ll ask you a question and if you don’t know it, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question and if I don’t know it, I pay you $500.” The woman was like “ok, fine.”

So the guy asked the woman, he asked her a riddle and she had no idea was it was, so she went ahead and gave him $5. Then the woman asked the man, “What goes up a hill with 4 legs, but comes down with two?” The man spent a really long time thinking about it. He called his friends, he looked it up, but he couldn’t find the answer anywhere. And then he finally asked her what was the answer. And she hands him back his $5. Because, she didn’t know the answer either.

Interviewer: Wait, what?

Background:

The informant is a twelve-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in sixth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. I asked her is she knew any jokes or riddles.

Thoughts:

Proverbs, riddles, and.charms are three of the shorter forms of folklore. They are not necessarily confined to oral expression, having appeared in written literature for ages. The purpose of the riddle is usually to deceive its listener regarding its meaning. A descriptions is given where the answer must be deciphered. Many times riddles are used as a contest of wits. Regarding this particular riddle . . . story? The rich man was bored and used his money for entertainment. I honestly really don’t know what to say. It was kind of funny. (also, between us, could it be a murderer who went to bury a dead body . . .? Hopefully something much more pleasant).

Doctor playing a prank to get money

Main Piece:

Informant: There was this man. He was older and kinda wanted to make money. So he did this thing, it’s kinda like a riddle or funny story. So the man wanted to get money quick, so he opened up a doctor’s office. And he said, “if you come in you have to pay me $500, but if I kill you I have to give you $1,000.

Interviewer: What happens if he kills you?

Informant: You have to give him $500, but if he doesn’t cure you he gives you $1,000. And so this man thought it was an easy way to get money, because he didn’t think he knew that much. He came in and said, “I lost my taste. I can’t taste anything.” And the man says “Open box #22.” And he gives him something. And he tastes it and says “Oh, this is gasoline.” And the doctor said, congratulations, you have your taste buds back. That’ll be $500. And then the man got really angry and he came back there and said something about, I forget what it was. Oh yea, he was like “I can’t see. I’m losing my eyesight.” And he said, “Open box 22” or something like that. And then he did something and um, “congratulations you have your eyesight back.” 

So that day he lost $1,500.

Background:

The informant is a ten-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in fourth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. I asked her is she knew any jokes or riddles.

Thoughts:

Proverbs, riddles, and.charms are three of the shorter forms of folklore. They are not necessarily confined to oral expression, having appeared in written literature for ages. The purpose of the riddle is usually to deceive its listener regarding its meaning. A descriptions is given where the answer must be deciphered. Many times riddles are used as a contest of wits. She kind left out a few bits or jumped around a bit. Sorry if the piece is a bit contradictory. I think this joke reflects the growing distrust that people have toward doctors and the overall healthcare system while simultaneously showing the greed of the populace.

How many people are in family?

Main Piece:

Informant: There is one grandma, two mom’s and two daughters and one granddaughter. How many people are in the family?

Interview: Oh, shoot, my brain is running slow. How many?

Interview: Three. Because the grandmother, uh, two mothers: the grandmother and the mother (2), two daughters, the daughter and um . . the daughter and the daughter’s daughter and there is one granddaughter.

Background:

The informant is a ten-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in fourth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. I asked her is she knew any jokes or riddles.

Thoughts: 

Proverbs, riddles, and.charms are three of the shorter forms of folklore. They are not necessarily confined to oral expression, having appeared in written literature for ages. The purpose of the riddle is usually to deceive its listener regarding its meaning. A descriptions is given where the answer must be deciphered. Many times riddles are used as a contest of wits. In America, riddles are very popular with children though in most cases age segregation does not apply.

What happens in a minute?

Main Piece:

Informant: What hap– this is a riddle, what happens once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?

Interviewer: I don’t know.

Informant: The letter ‘M’

Background:

The informant is a nine-year-old Native American boy from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. He was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. He is in elementary school.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger brother. I asked him is he knew any jokes or riddles.

Thoughts:

Proverbs, riddles, and.charms are three of the shorter forms of folklore. They are not necessarily confined to oral expression, having appeared in written literature for ages. The purpose of the riddle is usually to deceive its listener regarding its meaning. A descriptions is given where the answer must be deciphered. Many times riddles are used as a contest of wits. In America, riddles are very popular with children though in most cases age segregation does not apply.

Drowned Girl Haunts Classroom

Main Piece:

Informant: There were actually, like, 2 ghosts. I think one of them was a little girl, because where her school was built there used to be a community pool. I was told that there was a little girl who had passed away or drowned there. And then she haunted the foundation of the school. So in one of the classrooms, either the Science or English room, on the same day every year it floods kinda. And that’s the same day the little girl passed away. So, the teacher of the classroom always says the little girl is still there.

Background:

The informant is a twelve-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in sixth grade.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my ‘sister IO’. I asked if she knew of any ghost stories or places that were haunted. Recently, one of our other siblings ‘sister NO’ started attending a new middle school. IO shared what NO had told her about her new school (which is detailed in another Main Piece). 

Thoughts:

It’s an urban legend that haunts a middle school, a transitional time for students. New teachers. New peers. New School. Legends have the ability to provide meaning in a chaotic social environment. The role of spirits play a large part in our culture, challenging our perceptions of linear time and dimension. Spirits have also been seen as a way of changing mentalities and conflicts that appear between theology and popular thought. They are a reflection of our own social insecurities and change that remains incomprehensible. Ultimately, legends and supernatural phenomena become a way of coping and interpreting the unknown and dealing with situations that remain beyond human control.