And then it rained: power and song in western Washington Coast Salish myth narratives
The First People of western Washington state have told stories for many generations. Until the disruption of lifeways caused by White settlement in the mid-nineteenth century, the formal telling of myth narratives was a seasonal event, taking place mainly in the winter months. With the dispersion of village settlements, the removal of children to government schools, and other drastic social changes, the storytelling context too was affected. During this period a new audience arrived in Native communities in the form of anthropologists, linguists, and other collectors hoping to "salvage" language and cultural practices they believed were doomed to extinction.Many myth narratives and other stories documented since the 1890s include songs as part of the narrative whole, but collection and documentation practices have resulted in the displacement of these songs from their narrative context. The publication of transcribed story texts has often excluded consideration of songs or has considered them only as textual material. As recorded sound media began to be utilized to document song traditions, many of the songs associated with myth narratives were recorded and became part of the historical record.This study investigates western Washington Coast Salish myth narrative songs from a variety of perspectives: as musical events with melodic and rhythm features, as structured narrative units, as literary texts, and as containers of cultural and spiritual meaning. The discussion focuses on the relationship of myth narrative songs to spiritual power through their association with localized spirit beings. It is this relationship that connects myth narratives to human spiritual practice. In this way myth narratives contribute to an understanding of the cultural geography that identifies Coast Salish life and thought.Storytelling is also considered as performance in order to highlight its essentially social, communicative nature. The analysis of an audio recording of a performance of the Coast Salish "Star Child" narrative cycle by Susie Sampson Peter includes discussion of a broad range of musical, rhetorical, and dramatic elements and takes into account the interactive aspects of the performance event.
- Music