certain tales in common. For example, take the story of the Dancing Birds:—
A trickster induces a number of birds to dance around him, keeping their eyes closed. The penalty for opening the eyes is that they will become red. As the birds dance, the trickster wrings their necks, one by one. One of the dancers grows suspicious, opens his eyes, and gives the alarm. The rest escape.
We find this tale among most Algonkin and Siouan tribes and a few of their neighbors. Approximating this distribution is the "Woman who Went to the Sky", the "Crane Bridge", "Snaring the Sun", and the "Deserted Children". Thus, we have what seems to be a mythological area over which a number of distinct tales have traveled.
For another type tale, we may take the "Rolling Rock", which is found among the Shoshoni tribes of the western highlands, and among some of their immediate neighbors. Quite similarly distributed are the "Burning Cannibal", "Eye Juggler", "Ladder of Arrows", "Skin Shifter", and "Blind Dupe". These have one further peculiarity in that they show a tendency to occur on the North Pacific Coast and in eastern Siberia. Thus we have, in contrast to the preceding, a western mythological area.
Boas defines another area, comprising the Nahua, some of the Pueblo tribes, the Caddoan tribes of the Mississippi Valley, and perhaps a few others, in which we find myths recounting successive migrations.
Common to the first two areas and extending far over the Old World, is the "Magic Flight", "Vaginal Teeth", and the "Unfaithful Wife". The former tale extends into South America, making it one of the most widely recurring themes.
One striking trait of Mexico, northwestern South America, eastern Brazil, and southeastern United States, is that we find many Old World themes of which the race between the turtle and rabbit is a good example. Boas has formulated evidence to show that these tales can be traced to early Spanish and Portuguese sources. The latter, and the institution of negro slavery, he considers responsible for the many African themes encountered.
- Waterman, 1914. I, p. 44.
- Boas, 1914. I.
- Boas, 1914. I.