A collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents—the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called it—from the Andes all the way up to Alaska.
Fifteen thousand years before Europeans stepped foot in the Americas, people had already spread from tip to tip and coast to coast. Like all humans, these Native Americans sought to understand their place in the universe, the nature of their relationship with the divine, and the origin of the world into which their ancestors had emerged. The answers lay in their sacred stories.
The Indigenous cultures highlighted here range from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America. Creation stories describe the births of Sun and Moon and life-sustaining lakes and rivers. Stars fill the Hopi sky when Spider Grandmother casts her web to the heavens. Great floods cover the Earth. Some narratives suggest ancient migratory journeys. Human survival is often a struggle as people cross deserts or endure drought, heat, and ice. Cautionary tales, like the Alutiiq warning against needless hunting, offer guidance. Tales of war and conquest, famine and exile, reflect the rise of empires. In a Mopan (Maya) tradition, a prince and a god fall in love, and in an Inuit story, sea and weather goddesses are partnered. A Nahua two-spirit story unites genders in one being, manifesting completion and wholeness.
García Esperón, a lauded Mexican poet, evokes a harshly beautiful world, and Bowles’ finely rendered translation begs to be read aloud. Mijangos’ exceptional blue, black, and white digital illustrations, incorporating a variety of design elements into a unified whole, reflects and enhances themes and connections among the stories. Informative backmatter includes a pronunciation guide, cultural notes, a map, a glossary, and a bibliography.