Form and Content
Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey is written as a series of stories within a story. In his “Notes on Sources” and bibliography, Jamake Highwater briefly discusses these tales and legends, often noting their tribal origins and indicating where other versions can be found. Highwater also includes a section called “The Storyteller’s Farewell.” In it, he explains his reasons for writing the book and outlines the meanings that he hopes readers will find.
According to the story told by Wasicong, Anpao and his “contrary” twin brother, Oapna, know nothing about their past. While they are traveling the world, Anpao falls in love with the beautiful Ko-ko-mik-e-is, whose name means “moon” (“night-red-light”). Although she has refused all other men, she tells Anpao that she will marry him if he will journey to the Lodge of the Sun to have the scars removed from his face. Knowing that no one has made such a journey, Anpao nevertheless accepts and Oapna agrees to accompany him.
After the journey begins, Oapna is kidnapped by the Moon. With the help of an old swan-woman, Anpao makes a daring rescue. The swan-woman then tells the twins the story of how Old Man created the world and how a foolish woman created death. This woman later went to the World-Above-the-World, became the mistress of the Sun, and had a child named Anpao. When the woman tried secretly to return to the earth with her child, the Sun killed her. Although Anpao...
(The entire section is 475 words.)