Tag Archives: fakelore

Rain Song from Living Earth Camp

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Charlottesville, VA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):


This piece is about a rain song that is sung at Living Earth Camp when it hasn’t rain in awhile. It stems from “native” songs, but there is no evidence.

Main Piece:

“L: I went to like a nature camp in the years I was in middle school over the summer. So it was like a sleepaway camp, but it only lasted a week. And it was weird because it was mostly white people, but they’d be like “oh this is the ancient song, this ancient rain song.” I don’t think they realized how problematic it was. We had this one time when it hadn’t been raining lately, like we we in a drought or something, so they took us down to the river and said “so we’re going to sing this rain song.” So you sing this when you are splashing the water around and it goes like “wishita-do-yah-do-yah-do-yah, wishita-do-yah-do-yah-do-yah. Washa-ta-day-ah-day-ah-day-ah.” And you do that over and over again. And it actually ended up raining the next day.

C: Wow, so it worked?

L: Yeah, so now I have all this white guilt singing it.

C: What is the camp’s name?

L: Living Earth Camp. And it was or felt very spiritual and connected to nature. But it was still like a $500 camp for a bunch of kids to cover themselves in mud.

C: Where was it?

L: Like an hour away from where I lived, so still in Virginia.”


The informant is a 19 year old girl from Charlottesville, VA. She attended this camp for 3 years in middle school and learned this song the first year she was at the camp when she was in 6th grade.


Rain songs that are based on “native” traditions never seem quite genuine, but the intention behind them is interesting. I thought it was curious that a rain song has to have roots in “native” folklore, and not from somewhere else. This reminds me of learning of tourist items that were labeled as “authentic” or “native.” I think a lot of people try to go back to the roots of Native culture because of it’s connection to the Earth and spirituality. Though there is more to Native culture than that, in today’s popular culture that is what is most projected. Since children are little, we learn that there are certain things to sing to cause things to happen. When we want the rain to come, we sing things like this – the rain song, to bring rain. When we want rain to go away, we sing “Rain, Rain, Go Away.” It is important to recognize when songs are a bit problematic like the informant did as well.

Tahoe Tessie

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student Worker
Residence: Deep River, Connecticut
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/31/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece

LL: “Over the break, I went to Lake Tahoe for the first time. It was really interesting because a lot of the shops there sell all these items about a lake monster that is supposed to have lived in the water for years and years.”

Informant: “How long is that?”

LL: “I think she – oh yeah it’s supposed to be a female…Tessie…is supposed to be a dinosaur from one of the later periods, who survived until modern day.”

Informant: “So does it basically have the same theories as the Loch Ness monster?”

LL: “Basically. [laughter] I think Tahoe wanted its own Loch Ness, and since it is one of the deepest bodies of water in the US, they can get away with making up the crazy things that live in there.”


Tahoe Tessie represents community that created an item of “fakelore” that has been accepted by many younger people, who did not know any better. Most of the imagery of the lake monster is lifted directly from the Nessie legend, but as I learned, Tessie is mostly depicted in a more feminine nature. She is often shown as smaller in size and in the presence of children. The creature was crafted as a gentle one, which could easily be marketed to families visiting the area.

Green Man of Portland

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 25
Residence: Washington / Oregon
Date of Performance/Collection: May 1 2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant grew up and lives in a town neighboring Portland, OR. He now often travels for work, but has and continues to spend time in the titled city when possible. He has a degree in architecture and currently works as a surveyor’s assistant. He likes British television shows, reading, and exploring Portland’s restaurants.



There exists a thing called The Green Man of Portland. It is in the Old Town area, and you can buy paraphernalia of the guy.

The informant previously thought it was like the area’s own private bigfoot and never knew the full details, but the idea is that you perpetuate it yourself.

The informant recalls, “My personal story is that I came to this spot, having not known about the whole Green Man thing for quite some time, and followed the circuit telling the whole story of the Green Man down 5th and 6th Avenue. And then participated in an even smaller tradition of getting a small Green Man knick-knack and hiding it in the area so that someone later can ‘discover,’ or have a sighting of the green man.”

“You can get ‘I have seen the green man’ items, or little sculptures you can hide so others can find the green man around Portland. I have hidden one. I don’t know if someone found it, but I have to imagine they did since it was still in downtown – that’s part of the charm, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leave a memento not to be found by you, and pass it off to somebody else.”

The informant has not since found a green man that others have hidden.


After checking up on the story, the informant found this description:

The legend goes like this: ever since Portland’s founding there have been sightings of small green archers. Whenever the archer hits someone her vision changes: flowers grow from the heads of passerby, a building called “The Greenwood” appears where there was no building before, and a giant tree towers over the city. On certain nights a great white celestial stag is spied in the skies over Portland. The piece has two components. There are two sculpture and eight “story markers” told as a poem over ten blocks of Old Town and Chinatown. The images in the panels combine the visual language of seventies horror comics and WPA posters. Pedestrians and riders come upon the story in fragments based on their routes through the neighborhood. The neighborhood has a layered, rich history. The legend encompasses all the varied, transitory communities that call that neighborhood home.


And here is a picture of the Green Man sculpture that the informant went to see:




Upon further investigation, this shows to be a piece of fakelore – the conception of the story and the placing of the markers downtown is somewhat recent and by a particular artist. But it is working its way into the local folklore – the markers are becoming places of interest, and there is a built tradition of a form of hide-and-maybe-seek (with these objects) that visitors can participate in. Based on the kind of community that exists in Portland, I’m guessing there are already people who like to believe in the story at least a little bit. It fits in well with the eco-conscious attitude of the area.

A Falsified Superstition

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American (Half-Tibetan)
Age: 21
Occupation: U.S. Marine
Residence: Cherry Point, North Carolina (Originally from Arizona)
Date of Performance/Collection: 2/12/2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): German, Spanish

Item and Context:

“When I was a kid, I read ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ like nobody’s business. Like, I would just devour them. And so, when I discovered that there was one called ‘Tintin in Tibet’, of course I was delighted, being of half-Tibetan ancestry. While I was reading it, I found this superstition in there where one of the sherpas, the mountain guide dudes, tells Captain Haddock, who is notorious for flouting other people’s cultures and traditions, that he isn’t supposed to pass a chorten, a Buddhist monk’s memorial structure, on the right, because it will ‘unleash the demons’. Weirdly enough, when I went to Tibet a few years ago for a family trip, we went hiking up in the Himalayan foothills, where there happened to be a ton of chortens just dotting the hillsides. We were accompanied by a couple of local sherpas, who found it supremely bizarre that I was doing everything I could to veer left as I passed them by, so that I wouldn’t offend anyone. I saw them laughing at me, and so I asked them, simultaneously embarrassed and confused, what they found so funny. They asked me if I’d read any Tintin comics before, and so I told them yes. To my amazement, they started laughing even harder at this. I was growing increasingly upset, and so I asked them what the hell was going on. They told me, trying desperately to keep their faces straight, that they had seen several American and European tourists doing the same thing that I was doing because they had read the Tintin comic. With one final snort of laughter, they informed me that the superstition from the comic wasn’t a real Buddhist superstition, and that the guy who created them, Hergé, completely made it up!”


This is an example of “fakelore”, which later grew into something a lot of people believed in because it was propagated by such a popular franchise, much like the series of Paul Bunyan stories, which was actually created by the logging industry to encourage the locals to believe that logging was a great American tradition. A question is brought up here – if the practice is conducted by a lot of people today, is it still fakelore or is it now folklore? Maybe because the society in which this practice was supposedly traditional never did it in the first place, it’s fakelore, but because there are people who believe in it now because they grew up on the Tintin franchise, it has now transformed into folklore.