För många år sedan när jag vistades en tid i Los Angeles köpte jag mig en tunn grön bok som bär titeln ”Indian Tales of North America” på ett antikvariat.
Förordet börjar så här:
The tales that follow were edited by a folklorist trained in the history of literature. Clearly, the presentation is not that of the anthropologist with his interest in the ethnological, psychological, and sociological role of narrative art. Rather, it is that of a "littérateur" using the admittedly ethnocentric and artificial point of view of the intelligent, curious Western European reader.
Boken är tryckt 1961. När köpte jag den? 1980?
Jag ska läsa en av sagorna eller berättelserna för er. Den heter ”The Origin of Corn” och hör till wabanaki-indianernas sagoskatt:
A long time ago, when Indians were first made, one man livet alone, far, far from any others. He didn´t have any fire and lived on roots, barks, and nuts. This Indian became very lonesome. He was tired of digging roots. He lost his appetite, and after a while just lay dreaming in the sunshine.
After he had been sleeping several days, he awoke and saw something standing near. At first, he was quite scared. But when it spoke, his hart became glad, for it was a beatiful woman with long light hair. She was not like any Indian. He wanted her to come to him, but when he asked her she refused him. When he tried to approach her, she seemed to go farther away. He sang to her of his lonliness and begged her not to leave him. At last she told him that if he would do just what she said, he would always have her with him. He promised her he would.
She led him to a spot where there was very dry grass. Then she told him to get two very dry sticks and to rub them together quickly. Soon a spark flew out and caught on the grass. Quick as an arrow the ground was completely burned over. Then the beautiful girl said, ”When the sun sets, take me by the hair and drag me over the burned ground.” The Indian didn’t want to do this, but she told him that wherever he dragged her something like grass would spring up, and between the leaves he would be able to see her hair. When this happened, the seeds would be ready for him to use. He did what she asked, and ti this day when the Indians see the silk on the cornstalks they know the girl has not forgotten them.
Och för att vi inte ska känna oss för lugna eller tycka att det här var väl en ganska harmlös blondinhistoria, så står det så här i den korta presentationen av sagan:
Tale 19, ”The Origin of Corn”, was pretty standard among the woodland tribes in the East. The maiden is usually slain before she is dragged across the ground, though that is not evident in the text printed here.