Cultures that have no written language pass on their histories through oral traditions. The stories are the way that social values and traditions are taught by one generation to the next. Animals often play a significant character role in these stories.
In the Native American traditions of the northwest part of California, the coyote is a popular character. Dr. Victoria Patterson, an anthropologist based in Ukiah, California, has worked with native peoples for over 30 years. She knows these stories, and she sees them as windows, allowing us to imagine how original native peoples of northern California thought and lived.
I met with Dr. Victoria Patterson and asked her about the significance of the story where the coyote jumped off into the sky. Our discussion lead to a two-part program, originally broadcast in February of 1999. In part one we discuss the indigenous stories and in part two we discuss how the northern California indigenous communities changed after European colonization.
The books Dr. Victoria Patterson recommends are “Deep Valley,” by Bernard W. Aginsky and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes.
Originally Broadcast: February 16, 1999 and February 26, 1999.
Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.