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The oral tradition of the Winnebago, or Ho-Chunk, people ranges from creation myths to Trickster stories and histories of the tribe. It is particularly strong in animal tales, as storyteller and tribal historian David Lee Smith vividly demonstrates in Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe, a collection drawn from the Smithsonian Institution and other sources, including the work of contemporaries. Smith himself contributes fourteen tales.
In the book we meet relatively recent characters such as Ho-poe-kaw (Glory-of-the-Morning), the famed and formidable woman chief who battled many other tribes as well as whites, threw historic alliances into disarray, and - although she often discomfited the French - married a Frenchman. We also encounter traditional figures, Trickster, talking dogs, Eagle, Owl, and Rabbit, moving through the chronicles of these Woodland people who stemmed from the Great Lakes region. The tales incorporate both the visionary and the down-to-earth. Some are deeply moving. Some, reflecting earlier items, are full of violence.