Living Stories of the Cherokee

Edited by Barbara R. Duncan

Collected and edited by Barbara R. Duncan, with stories told by Davey Arch, Robert Bushyhead, Edna Chekelelee, Marie Junaluska, Kathi Smith Littlejohn, and Freeman Owle

Living Stories of the Cherokee

272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 6 illus., bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4719-0
    Published: June 1998
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6647-4
    Published: November 2000

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Awards & distinctions

1999 Storytelling World Award

1998 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award, Western North Carolina Historical Association

This remarkable book, the first major new collection of Cherokee stories published in nearly a hundred years, presents seventy-two traditional and contemporary tales from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. It features stories told by Davey Arch, Robert Bushyhead, Edna Chekelelee, Marie Junaluska, Kathi Smith Littlejohn, and Freeman Owle--six Cherokee storytellers who learned their art and their stories from family and community.

The tales gathered here include animal stories, creation myths, legends, and ghost stories as well as family tales and stories about such events in Cherokee history as the Trail of Tears. Taken together, they demonstrate that storytelling is a living, vital tradition. As new stories are added and old stories are changed or forgotten, Cherokee storytelling grows and evolves.

In an introductory essay, Barbara Duncan writes about the Cherokee storytelling tradition and explains the "oral poetics" style in which the stories are presented. This format effectively conveys the rhythmic, oral quality of the living storytelling tradition, allowing the reader to "hear" the voice of the storyteller.

About the Author

Barbara R. Duncan is Education Director at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, and coauthor of Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook.
For more information about Barbara R. Duncan, visit the Author Page.


“These rich and deeply delightful stories--both ancient and recent--are a great gift from a group of masterful tellers.”--Charles Frazier, author of Thirteen Moons and Cold Mountain

"Will have a profound influence on future publications of collections of oral history as well as those of contemporary storytellers."--Thomas Rain Crowe, Wild Mountain Times

"Don't vacation in the Cherokee country without first dipping into this fine book."--Fayetteville Observer-Times

"It's much more than a guidebook; this is part of our history. And the paper stock, photos and maps are reminiscent of National Geographic publications. This is a keeper."--New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Wonderful! Lively and engaging. . . . Barbara Duncan has recorded these stories . . . in a free-verse prose style that makes you feel more like you are sitting at the feet of the storyteller hearing them than sitting at home reading them. You can almost smell the wood smoke and see the flickering firelight on the walls."--Highlander

"This book is so needed in the storytelling world because it provides the 'real' stories from Cherokee culture and not just interpretations."--Connie Regan-Blake, storyteller