indaba, “matter, affair; case; topic of conversation; business; report; story, tale”
A. T. Bryant, Zulu-English Dictionary, Pinetown, Natal: The Mariannhill Mission Press, 1905, p. 87
kum, “story, talk, history, news, syn. kumma … pl. kukúmmi”.
|xam Bushmen, Upper Karoo, South Africa; D. F. Bleek, A Bushman Dictionary, New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1956, p. 106
Ningákaniak = That’s the edge or rim of the story, always used at the end of a story; this image seems to be taken from hat [or basket] weaving.
Klamath or Modoc, Oregon, North America; from the unpublished Klamath and Modoc manuscripts of Jeremiah Curtin (1835-1906) Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives, NAA 2348
And she looked at him; and when she saw how handsome he was, she said,
‘Will you be so kind as to come home with me to my father’s house and take something?’
So the lad went and sat down, and before she asked him anything she set down wine before him and said, ‘Quicker is a drink than a tale.’
When he had taken that, he began and he told her all that happened, and how he had seen her in his sleep, and when, and she was well pleased.
‘And I saw thee in my sleep on the same night,’ said she.
J. F. Francis Campbell, Popular Tales of the West Highlands, vol. I, Paisley & London: Alexander Gardner, 1890, p. 291
Illustration inspired by a decorative element from the Ancient Egypt
The myths are pre-eminently ‘fictional truths,’ conveying truths important to life, yet fictional to us and sometimes to the Indians. The Santa Clara Tewas of New Mexico introduce some stories with words such as these: ‘In a place that never was, in a time that never was, this did not happen.’
The Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island insist upon the literal truth of stories of how the founder of a kinship group obtained its prerogatives. Those stories are true because the initial adventure did happen and the story has been transmitted ever since in a known chain of succession. But myths can be referred to in English as ‘fairy stories.’ Inheritance, in short, is a historical fact; the truths of myths may be of other kinds.
North America; Dell Hymes, “Notes toward (an understanding of) supreme fictions”, in I know only so far: Essays in Ethnopoetics, Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press, 2003, p. 382
Illustration inspired by an indigenous motif from the Rio Grande area