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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Speakers in the Night: California Indian Storytellers


Listening to the recounting of familiar myths and tales constituted a favorite form of amusement for the California Indians, and many a long winter night was passed in this manner. Specially gifted elderly persons, generally men, their memories well stocked with traditional lore, were the story- tellers. They held forth by firelight, usually in an assembly house, chief's dwelling, or other large structure, with their audience, composed of men, women, and ciuldren, clustered around them. Commonly, a raconteur prolonged his recital far into the night.

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