Among the Kiowa,
storytelling takes place under familiar circumstances. A small group of relatives and close friends gather. Tales are informative as well as entertaining. Joking and teasing are key components. Group participation is expected. And outsiders are seldom involved.
This book explores the traditional art of storytelling still practiced by Kiowas today as Gus Palmer shares conversations held with storytellers. Combining narrative, personal experience, and ethnography in an original and artful way, Palmer—an anthropologist raised in a traditional Kiowa family—shows not only that storytelling remains an integral part of Kiowa culture but also that narratives embedded in everyday conversation are the means by which Kiowa cultural beliefs and values are maintained.
Palmer's study features contemporary oral storytelling and other discourses, assembled over two and a half years of fieldwork, that demonstrate how Kiowa storytellers practice their art. Focusing on stories and their meaning within a narrative and ethnographic context, he draws on a range of material, including dream stories, stories about the coming of Táimê (the spirit of the Sun Dance) to the Kiowas, and stories of tricksters and tribal heroes. He shows how storytellers employ the narrative devices of actively participating in oral narratives, leaving stories wide open, or telling stories within stories. And he demonstrates how stories can reflect a wide range of sensibilities, from magical realism to gossip.
Firmly rooted in current linguistic anthropological thought, Telling Stories the Kiowa Way is a work of analysis and interpretation that helps us understand story within its larger cultural contexts. It combines the author's unique literary talent with his people's equally unique perspective on anthropological questions in a text that can be enjoyed on multiple levels by scholars and general readers alike.