Living Stories of the Cherokee contains traditional and contemporary stories told by storytellers Davey Arch, Robert Bushyhead, Edna Chekelee, Marie Junaluska, Kathi Smith Littlejohn, and Freeman Owle. All the storytellers except Edna Chekelee were alive at the time this book was published (1998), and all are members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This is the first major new collection of Cherokee stories published in nearly 100 years (since James Mooney’s Myths of the Cherokee of 1900).
The stories range from traditional tales that teach values to stories from the storytellers’ lives and families’ lives. The storytellers learned their art from family and community, and they all tell, or told, stories in the community — in schools, seminars and workshops, and at festivals. What makes this book unique is its focus on collecting stories that are being told today by living (or recently deceased) storytellers. The storytellers, and this book, hope to keep the Cherokee tradition of storytelling alive, as a way of maintaining Cherokee identity and passing on important values to future generations. I usually donate books I’ve read, but I’m hanging on to this one so I can re-read these beautiful stories.