Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spider Spins a Story

Book Cover 

Spider Spins a Story
Fourteen Legends from Native America
Edited by Jill Max
Illustrated by Robert Annesley
Benjamin Harjo
Michael Lacapa
S.D. nelson
Redwing T. Nez
    Baje Whitehorne

About the book:
The spider is a common character in numerous Native American oral traditions. In this collection of stories, some of which are appearing in print for the first time, Spider represents many things: a mentor, a trickster, a helpful ally, a worker of miracles. Illustrated with the exceptional artwork of six Native American illustrators and endorsed by tribal authorities, this book will help young readers appreciate the power of myth and legend in the lives of all people. A portion of the profits will benefit American Indian Theater Company, a nonprofit organization for Native American young people.

About the editor:
Jill Max is a pseudonym for the writing team of Ronia K. Davidson and Kelly Benett. They compiled the book while living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which enabled them to do extensive research on Native American customs and lore at the Gilcrease Museum. Kelly now resides in Katy, Texas.

Discussion Guide

The Great Flood (Kiowa)
What event caused Grandmother Spider and Grandfather Snake to marry? What helped them to survive?

How the Tewas Found Their True Home (Tewa)
Which direction was the Tewas encouraged to travel? What would happen in the other directions? What were the signs that they had found the right place?

Swift Runner and Trickster Tarantula (Zuni)
Describe how tarantula tricked Swift Runner out of his regalia. Who tried to help him get it back? Who succeeded? How? What was his last trick?

How the Spider Got Its Web (Wiyat)
What did spider do with the string the Old Man Above gave him? Why was he scared? What did it provide?

Osage Spider Story (Osage)
What did spider teach the wu-zha-she? How did she make a good life symbol? What does the narrator mean by “… when we, the Wa-zhaa-zhe, the Osage, knew how to listen.”

The Hunter and the Spider (Muskogee)
What did the hunter learn from spider? What other lessons did he learn? What did the Old Ones believe about spiders? How could they make you wealthy or healthy?

The Legend of the Loom (Navajo)
List three facts you learned about the Navajo tradition of weaving. How did spider teach them? What did the different parts of the loom stand for? Why can’t weavers ever give up?

Rainbow Makers (Achomawi)
Summarize what the animals and the Achomawi must do to bring the sun back.  Why did Old Man Above do as they asked? What can this teach us about cooperating with our own enemies? What could bring people together like this?

Spider the Fire Bringer (Cherokee)
Which other animals tried to bring fire? Why did they fail? What type of spider is described? How does fire both serve and hurt nature?

Spider Woman Creates the Burro (Hopi)
Why did Spider Woman create the burrow for her namesake’s clan? Describe how she accomplished her task. What other animals serve man in their labor? Which do you think is most important? why?

How the Half-Boys Came to Be (Kiowa)
Three times people do not do as they are told in this story. How do they disobey? What are the results? Why were the boys magical?

Wihio Meets One of the Little People (Cheyenne)
How does the introduction of the story inform your understanding of it? In your own words, what happened between the Wihio and the Little Man.

Iktomi and Buzzard (Lakota)
What mistake did Iktomi make? How did buzzard punish him? What can we learn from Iktomi’s story?

Dreamcatcher Story (Muskogee)

What did the boy want? How did he get it?  What does the dreamcatcher do? Who makes them?

Questions after reading the entire anthology:

  1. Which spider was your favorite? Why?
  2. Why do you think so many Native American tribes feature the spider? What qualities of the spider do you admire?
  3. What can we learn about a culture by studying their stories?
  4. Which stories featured the spider as a trickster character?
  5. Which stories did man learn from the spider?
  6. What was the most interesting fact you learned while reading this anthology? Does it make you want to explore other stories from other tribes or cultures?
  7. What is a myth or legend? Why do you think they exist?
  8. Which illustration is your favorite? Why?
  9. How are written stories different from oral ones? What can hearing a story aloud add to its meaning? Would you rather read or hear a story?


Language Arts:

Create your own spider character. Will she be a trickster? A helpmate to man? Will she create something useful or teach us a lesson? Write a short story once you have developed this most important character.

Take one of your favorite stories and turn it into a timeline of the major events (try to use eight events if you can, the same number as spider’s legs). Illustrate the events.

Social Studies:
Research one of the tribes from the book. Where are they located? What did they grow or hunt? What is their traditional lodging? How were they affected by the western expansion of America? What type of clothing did they wear? Create a poster about what you learned to share with the class.

Study the arachnid family. What features are common among all spiders? How are they different from insects? Gather facts about one variety of spider and create a pamphlet, PowerPoint or poster about what you learned.


Spider Spins a Story
Fill out the chart as you read

Spider’s Role
The Great Flood

How the Tewas Found Their True Home (Tewa)

Swift Runner and
Trickster Tarantula

How the Spider Got Its Web

Osage Spider Story

The Hunter and the Spider  (Muskogee)

The Legend of the Loom

Rainbow Makers

Spider, the Fire Bringer

Spider Woman Creates the Burro

How the Half-Boys Came to Be

Wihio Meets One of the Little People

Iktomi and Buzzard

Dreamcatcher Story