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
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6647-4
    Published: November 2000
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6973-9
    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

"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

"Through the years, these legends have grown and changed and become contemporary along with Cherokee people. You may have heard these legends on cassette tape. Soon you may hear them via computer, and in the next millennium we can only guess the media through which you will experience these stories. The critical message is that the stories continue. . . . The voices you hear are those of my friends and neighbors, and now they become yours."—from the foreword by Joyce Conseen Dugan, Former Principal Chief, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians