All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Malecite and Passamaquoddy Tales

The website of the Maine Folklife Center has more than two dozen stories told by members of the Malecite (Maliseet) and Passamaquoddy tribes, and first published in Northeast Folklore in 1964. In his introduction, editor Edward D. Ives described the difficulties his students had in interviewing Mrs. Viola Solomon of the Malecite reservation at Tobique, New Brunswick.
Mrs. Solomon had her problems. To begin with, she obviously preferred to tell her tales in Malecite rather than in English. Then too, although she could hardly be described as old (she was only 51), she was not well. Finally, she was exceedingly shy. "She fought shyness of the microphone all the way," the collectors said. "She spoke in a very low voice, often waving the microphone away, or refusing to face it, turning her face completely away from it. Often we feared we would lose the battle." Ultimately her shyness gave away to her desire to please her new friends, but she finally found it far easier to tell her story in Malecite. Some time later, her daughter sat between two tape recorders, listening to her mother's narration on one and reading her translation into the other. The completed collection demonstrates that with even a little training, even just a few encouraging nudges, sincere workers can achieve valuable results. When students turn in term projects like this one, I feel better about the world and I rejoice that I teach folklore. [Link]

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