USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘houston’
Folk Beliefs

Indian Joe

My roommate grew up in Houston, and she told me a piece of folklore from her time at a Girl Scout camp in Texas. She participated in the production of the folklore while she was at camp, but it is not something she believes is true now.

“I went to this girl scout camp, Camp Agnes Arnold, which is a little bit outside of Houston, kind of in the Conroe area. But we had a marker that everyone assumed was a grave for Indian Joe. And you always had to give the grave a very wide berth on your way back to the cabins, because if you stepped on it, it was going to rain for the rest of the week and your entire week would be spoiled because you stepped on Indian Joe’s grave”

Q: Who told you about Indian Joe?

“I…think it was probably a camp counselor at first. Either that or one of the older girls, because I had been going to that camp since I was eight or something, so I don’t necessarily remember the original source. But I remember I would warn other girls to stay away from Indian Joe’s grave so that we would have nice weather”

Q: Did anyone know who Indian Joe was?

“I want to say… I don’t think it was anything more than the basics. He was an Indian who had settled in the area and it was his land and then he had eventually died and been buried in that area, and it was just one of those things, like, show respect for the Indian grave”

In areas where Native Americans once lived, the foklore seems to come from two things: fear and respect towards the Native Americans. In this example, stepping on the rock will result in something bad (the stereotypical “Indian curse”) but it also seems to stem from a desire to be respectful to the grave, perhaps to make up for the past.


Houston Rodeo

Jonathan “Scotty” Miller

Houston, Texas

March 12, 2012

Folklore Type: Festival

Informant Bio: Bio: Scotty is my good friend from high school. He is a twenty year old Sophomore and Physics major at the University of Houston. He was born and has lived in Friendswood, Texas his whole life. Except now he lives in downtown Houston. Everyone in my group friends is smart, but we have labeled Scotty as the super smart one among the boys because his major sounds the hardest. It is however extremely debatable as to whether or not this is true. Scotty is one of the nicest and calmest people I have ever met. His house is the one we always go to hang out.

Context: None of my friends who are girls could go to the Rodeo with me during Spring Break. So, I asked Scotty to go with me and my parents. Afterwards, I asked him what he thought.

Item: Smells, BBQ obviously. Sounds well Country music. Let me see… sort of carnivaly. The main event of course is things involving livestock like competitions and such. BBQ! BBQ is important because it involves the eating of livestock. Country music is around and rap is getting involved with it because of the younger generation bringing it in I guess. There is old school carnival rides, ferris wheels, tall things you fall from, sort of an old timey southern tradition. There’s a concert and stuff you can buy that goes with that. Cheap beer everywhere. Cotton candy. Something unique to the rodeo, you know where carnivals usually have the things you can win stuff? Only at the rodeo can you win a pick-up truck. The art show is pretty ok. Most of it is done by high school student. It ranges from stick figurey to masterfully done. It various from shop art to tapestries and what have you. It’s usually about boring cowboy things like cows and pigs and cowboy hats. It’s in the convention hall area. You also have the places where there’s abusing of the livestock. You walk around and poke them. Another area where you stare at them and they stare at you. Places you can buy southern attire, lots of cowboy hats, leather items, antler derivatives. Food on a stick. Smoked food on a stick. Deep fried Oreos that’s a pretty good tradition. Oh, people don’t normally wear cowboy hats, but they wear them to the rodeo. But people wear cowboy boots that’s more normal. Also people who don’t normally wear cowhide vests and stuff wear them. It’s really only once a year. You go or you don’t the week when it’s in town. There is only a certain time it’s around. It’s most often a family thing or a friend thing. Or I guess if you’re really enthusiastically country which probably means you’re redneck.

Informant Analysis: Usually a, it’s ah a cultural staple. It’s a moderately pleasant evening where you don’t have to worry about anything bad happening. It’s a safe event, and everyone knows what it is. It’s a thing that people do; it’s a tradition. It’s cool for people and important for other people. I don’t know it’s cool.

Analysis: The rodeo is not terribly important to Scotty. It is just something to do for him unlike other Texans where they feel a sense of pride. The Houston Rodeo has become a blend of old style rodeos and modern concerts and other events. The Rodeo is held at Reliant Stadium and Convention center where the Houston football team, the Texans, plays. There are rules for the competitions and an organized order to the rodeo. It is less local than the way rodeos started out. Rodeos used to be a way for farming communities, where farms and neighbors are really far apart from each other, to get together, compete, eat, get to know each other, and have fun. Now the rodeo is a mix of new and old.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012