Very quick notes on the Joseph Bruchac performance. Much of this will be in reference to the Native American Spirits panel report.
He told five stories, about two different cannibal skeletons, Toad Woman, a wendigo, and a snake. The first cannibal skeleton story was about a man who got eaten by said cannibal skeleton as a direct result of his treating his wife poorly; the wife and baby escaped by being aware and clever and going to a local village for help. The second was about a lazy uncle who was so lazy that he ate his own flesh rather than go out to find food, and then ate his sister and brother-in-law. The two children escaped and destroyed the skeleton with the help of an elder who they were polite to—"Oh, one of those, we get a lot of those around here," which was very funny. And then their parents were brought back to life by the tree-on-house method. However, the skeleton is just smashed at the bottom of a falls, and they say that whenever someone is lazy and greedy, there are noises at the bottom like a little more of the skeleton coming back together . . .
(These sound really didactic, but I'm stripping them way, way down, because I'm trying to get this written while Chad is in the shower.)
Toad Woman is a tale that parents tell their children to keep them out of the swamp, and he told it in the way that parents would do so—basically, as I recall, a "bad things are in the swamp" story. The wendigo story was again more of an educational discussion rather than a pure tale, about the variants of the tale. He said his favorite was one where the wendigo burst into a house where a woman, thinking quickly, embraced it, called it grandfather, and gave it a big pot of soup; the wendigo, being greedy and not knowing how to react properly, gulped the soup all down, choked, and died—turning back into an old man, who coughed up an ice-heart in the shape of the monster. The woman threw the heart on the fire and the man was saved.
The snake story was about a narcisstic woman who saw only beauty in a man who approached her and then discovered that he was a snake who lived at the bottom of the river. It was about that long, though, because we were out of time.
And now I am too.