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Daughters of Copper Woman (1981)

de Anne Cameron

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466641,510 (3.85)9
Since its first publication in 1981, Daughters of Copper Woman has become an underground classic, selling over 200,000 copies. Now comes a new edition that includes many pieces cut from the original as well as fresh material added by the author. Here finally, after twenty-two years of gathering dust, is the complete version of the groundbreaking bestseller. In this, her best-loved work, Anne Cameron has created a timeless retelling of northwest coast Native myths that together create a sublime image of the social and spiritual power of woman. Cameron weaves together the lives of legendary and imaginary characters, creating a work of fiction with an intensity of style matched by the power of its subject.… (mais)
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Daughters of Copper Woman by Anne Cameron
About a society of women who live on an island. There are visitors to the island and some women give birth but they are brave and strong as there are no men around.
the Spanish conquistadors visit and other seamen. Daily life is explained as the women's hormones. Very spirtual and creepy at times.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device). ( )
  jbarr5 | Nov 9, 2021 |
Sometimes a book grabs me by the heart and won't let go. "Daughters of Copper Woman" is one of those books. I've been fascinated by myths, legends and folk tales since I was small. I devoured the children's books about Greek myths and quickly moved on to Norse legends and Grimm's tales. For the most part I enjoyed them as adventure and hero stories filled with fantasy, but (except for fables) little in the way of morals or values. I have an informal collection of the classics, plus books from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Knowing my passion, it's not surprising my daughter gave me this book for Mother's Day.

First published in 1981,"Daughters of Copper Woman" is a wonderful retelling of myths and history through the voices of elderly First Nations women from the American Northwest. The author Anne Cameron is of Celtic descent, but lived close to the reservation on Vancouver Island and chronicled their tales in this book and its sequel "Dzelarhons: Mythology of the Northwest Coast". "Copper Woman" is considered an underground classic and has sold over 200,000 copies, in many languages, world-wide.

From the opening story "Copper Woman":

"And then the Creator, who is neither male nor female, man nor woman, but both, and something more than either…took the shells of the sea and the minerals of the rocks and fashioned a skeleton…took the salt water of the ocean and made from it blood…took handfuls of dirt and on the skeleton fashioned a body, which was then encased in skin, made from the skin of the Creator and the same color as copper…she became First Woman, she became Copper Woman."

The story goes on to explain how the first male was made from snot when Copper Woman cried from loneliness, but he was incomplete and incapable of learning and all his sons were lesser creatures. A female spirit had to take on the form of a man to mate with Copper Woman's daughter to create men who could learn and do as much as the women. That story tickles my feminist spirit and sense of fun. The first true men—according to the Nuu-chah-nulth people—had two mommies! But that was typical of the Nuu-chah-nulth people whose family structures were expansive and flexible, providing a strong foundation for the entire community which was taxed to its limits. In the voice of Old Woman:

"There is more than one road to the afterlife, there is more than one way to love, there is more than one way to find the other half of Self in another person, there is more than one way to fight the enemy."

But the stories go far beyond Copper Woman and Snot Boy (yes, she uses that name). Many are told in the voice of "Granny" a stand-in for the old women who shared their stories with Cameron. These histories are set up with typical scenes and background from their modern lives. The announcement over the radio that the red tide affected a certain cove prompts the tale of the first white men who arrived on their shores. The "Keestadores" bring rape, murder, disease and—worse of all—a misogynist religion. The People—both women and men—go to heroic efforts to expel them from their lands, but we already know from history that they win a few battles, but lose the war. I loved the clever framing of these beautifully written stories which illustrated the compassion of a community as it cared for its own.

Whether telling myths of Wolf Mother, stories of travelling to "the Big Island" (Hawaii), or chronicling the government sanctioned destruction of their tribal system, this book is filled with wisdom, love and community spirit. They are tales of tribulation, endurance and triumph over adversity. They articulate a set of values about respect, love and caring for each other and the environment that struck a deep chord in me. Granny has some wonderful lessons for people in this greedy material world. Lessons that, if followed, would enrich all our lives, not just the few.

This book is much more than a collection of myths, legends and folk tales and unlike any collection I've yet to read. The wisdom is timeless and the call for action timely. Women have made progress in the last thirty-two years, but—as the current religious/political climate shows—we've still got a long way to go. Cameron did all women (and the men who love them) a huge favor in sharing these stories with a wider audience. I want to make it clear, that although I consider myself a feminist (and proudly claim the label) these stories appealed to me on a human level—they lay out a set of universal values that we can all share: women and men; people of all races and ages.

Many, many thanks—and love—to my own daughter for giving me this gift. This is an excerpt from a longer post on my blog. ( )
  MarysGirl | Jul 2, 2013 |
The threads of many creation stories weave back and forth through this book. Don't expect linear writing here - this is oral tradition at its best. A marvelously moving book. ( )
  DK_Atkinson | Apr 1, 2013 |
This is an unforgettable book! I especially love the story of the sacred clown woman, and how the people bought swamp water and rubbish shell beads from her stall rather than degrade themselves in the fire-water and bead fur trade. ( )
  Sally-AnneLambert | Aug 16, 2009 |
Flood myth, and others. ( )
  stunik | Mar 29, 2009 |
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For Alex, Erin, Pierre, Marianne, and Kim, with love and with thanks. And with gratitude to the Nootka people of the village of Ahousat who share their stories and their lives with me. Special thanks to Margaret Atleo. In memory of Mary Little.
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In the 85 years between Captain Cook's visit in 1778 and the Royal Fellowship census in 1863, the Nootka nation was decimated.
from the first story:
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And then the Creator, who is neither male nor female, man nor woman, but both, and something more than either…took the shells of the sea and the minerals of the rocks and fashioned a skeleton…took the salt water of the ocean and made from it blood…took handfuls of dirt and on the skeleton fashioned a body, which was then encased in skin, made from the skin of the Creator and the same color as copper…she became First Woman, she became Copper Woman.
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Since its first publication in 1981, Daughters of Copper Woman has become an underground classic, selling over 200,000 copies. Now comes a new edition that includes many pieces cut from the original as well as fresh material added by the author. Here finally, after twenty-two years of gathering dust, is the complete version of the groundbreaking bestseller. In this, her best-loved work, Anne Cameron has created a timeless retelling of northwest coast Native myths that together create a sublime image of the social and spiritual power of woman. Cameron weaves together the lives of legendary and imaginary characters, creating a work of fiction with an intensity of style matched by the power of its subject.

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