"That's What They Used to Say"
Reflections on American Indian Oral Traditions
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
272 Pages | 6 x 9 | 19 b&w illus.
As a child growing up in rural Oklahoma, Donald Fixico often heard “hvmakimata”—“that’s what they used to say”—a phrase Mvskokes and Seminoles use to end stories. In his latest work, Fixico, who is Shawnee, Sac and Fox, Mvskoke (as “Muskogee” is spelled in the Mvskoke language), and Seminole, invites readers into his own oral tradition to learn how storytelling, legends and prophecies, and oral histories and creation myths knit together to explain the Indian world.
Interweaving the storytelling and traditions of his ancestors, Fixico conveys the richness and importance of oral culture in Native communities and demonstrates the power of the spoken word to bring past and present together, creating a shared reality both immediate and historical for Native peoples. Fixico’s stories conjure war heroes and ghosts, inspire fear and laughter, explain the past, and foresee the future—and through them he skillfully connects personal, familial, tribal, and Native history.
Oral tradition, Fixico affirms, at once reflects and creates the unique internal reality of each Native community. Stories possess spiritual energy, and by summoning this energy, storytellers bring their communities together. Sharing these stories, and the larger story of where they come from and how they work, “That’s What They Used to Say” offers readers rare insight into the oral traditions at the very heart of Native cultures, in all of their rich and infinitely complex permutations.
“Once again, Donald L. Fixico has produced a provocative work. In 'That’s What They Used to Say,' he engages the reader in his examination of Indian oral tradition, interweaving his own autobiography throughout.”—Blue Clark, author of Indian Tribes of Oklahoma: A Guide
“Donald L. Fixico’s stories give us a rich understanding of the power of storytelling in shaping Native community. Fixico's compassion and wry humor bring us together in a difficult time.” —Margaret Connell-Szasz,author of Scottish Highlanders and Native Americans: Indigenous Education in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World
“In this chronicle of the importance of storytelling in the Native American experience, Donald L. Fixico provides insights into the spiritual energy of oral tradition, illustrating that stories are much more than just stories.” —R. David Edmunds, author of The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire