Tales of the Hopi Indians

Spoken Arts

Canyon Records
by Harold Courlander, read by Dianne Wolkstein, Directed by Arthur Luce Klein


Harold Courlander, folklorist novelist and journalist, has published over 20 books. Many are collections of stores and lore which he has collected in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa and the Far East.
Strangely enough, I have never thought of myself as a "junior author." My interest in young people's books is devoted to folklore materials. I have drawn heavily upon folklore and other "oral literature" of various cultures in writing adult books as well.
Mr. Courlander remains faithful to the spirit of the tales as told in their original settings, but his interest in the oral tradition is not confined solely to content. What the tales reveal of the people who tell them, their cultural values in terms of goals, desires and conflicts and their views (both philosophical and humorous) on the human condition are perhaps even more important.
Unfortunately, despite their mature wit, subtly, irony and reflections on human foibles, folk tales are widely regarded as "fairy tales" in our culture, and relegated to some arbitrary age group, such as six to twelve. I have always felt that six to sixty and up would be more appropriate.
Mr. Courlander traveled extensively as a two-time Guggenheim fellow, gathering folk music and stores. His books have been translated into languages from Spanish, French and Italian – to Urdu, Bengali and Arabic.

Among his many collections are: "The King's Drum and Other African Stories, The piece of Fire, The drum and the Hoe: Life and Lore of the Haitain People and The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories. Mr. Courlander is also a novelist, as witnessed by his book on life in the rural South – The Big World of Richard Creeks (1962).

Stories from the oral tradition are fragile and delicate; they can disappear forever if not preserved. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Harold Courlander for the work he has completed, and for the work he is committed to do. Your enjoyment of the three tales from his American Indian collection People of the Short Blue Corn will attest to the value of his commitment.

Steven Schwartz


From 1967 to 1970, Diane Wolkstein held New York City's most charming post–that of official storyteller. In this capacity, Miss Wolkstein toured the city's parks and schools, weaving her spells and enchanting children everywhere she went. Part of her gift is the knack for making years disappear – expanding the definition of "children" to encompass all who hear her.

Saturday mornings from May to October find Miss Wolkstein in New York City's Central Park, as the Hans Christian Andersen Storyteller. No storyteller is a stranger to Andersen's tales, but Miss Wolkstein was a recipient of the Marshall Award, a grant by the Danish government to study Andersen. While in Europe, Miss Wolkstein appeared in Copenhagen, Odense and in Dublin's Lantern Theater.

Children not able to see Miss Wolkstein in person can hear her on the weekly radio program she hosts for New York's WNYC radio. The program is heard Saturday mornings from 8:00 to 8:30 and has been on the air since November of 1967.

Miss Wolkstein's talents go far beyond her storytelling, to writing children's books (8,000 Stones and The Cool Ride in the Sky); acting (the lead in Sterling Films' "Zachary Zween"); teaching children's literature (to graduate students in the Bank Street College of Education) and directing state storytelling conferences throughout the country.

Miss Wolkstein and her husband, Bernard Zucker, have a daughter, Rachel Cloudstone.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



The Sun Callers "The Sun Callers" explains why the coyote howls at night. It seems that he had a contest with a rooster one day to see who could make the sun rise. The rooster won, but the coyote came so close that he is still trying. You can hear him for yourself. Hopi Story
Sikokukuh And The Hunting Dog "Sikokukuh and the Hunting Dog" tells of a young Indian boy's long dangerous journey to obtain a dog to help the hunters of his tribe supply game. With the help of the wise and magical Spider Grandmother, his trip is successful and the village prospers until the dog is killed by jealous braves from a rival village. This prompts the elders to move the home of the Reed Clan to the very rim of a steep cliff with the Walpi Indians. And there they live to this very day. Hopi Story
Coyote And The Crying Song "Coyote and the Crying Song" tells how the coyote learns to sing the crying song after hurting his jaw on a stone that he thinks is a dove. Hopi Story