Indian Cinderella

This story is very different from any we have previously read.  What makes this story recognizable as a Cinderella story?  There is no stepmother, fairy godmother, or ball.  What does this say about Native American values and culture?


About Elisabeth Gruner

English professor, University of Richmond
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3 Responses to Indian Cinderella

  1. gepstein says:

    The most recognizable aspects are found in the beginning and the ending. There is still familial abuse, a deceased mother, and the degradation of the heroine in the beginning. The end still includes the Cinderella character’s transformation into a beautiful girl and her marriage to a powerful man. The changes in the story allow the heroine to earn her “prince’s” hand in marriage. This Cinderella is completely self reliant. She depends on neither her parents nor a fairy godmother to overcome her situation. She arrives on her own with her scarred face and rags to Strongwind’s test, despite the town’s jeers. Her honesty rather than her beauty become her most appealing feature. This reveals that the tribe that told this story honored a heroine’s honesty and mental strength. Although beauty is important, there has to be more to a person for her to be worthy of her happy ending.

  2. staciann says:

    This Cinderella story left many questions unanswered involving the girl’s family, such as: Why would the father not try to intervene, even if he did think she was hurting herself? Why did she not complain to anyone? Why was she happy in this condition? As we have discussed in other tales, they often reveal something about the location and time in which they were written. Many native tribes placed a lot of value in not showing pain, respecting family, and having inner-strength. This is shown in this story when the youngest daughter does not complain about her misfortune and when Strong Wind values honesty more than anything else. It is also interesting in this story that the only family member of the “prince” mentioned is his sister, while normally he only has parents, if that. It raises questions as to how he got his power of invisibility, and if that was the only reason he was desirable to the women of the village.

  3. This story is automatically seen as a “Cinderella” story to many solely because of the rags to riches aspect. We also see a girl who is abused by her family member for no reason. Is it significant that it not her own family abusing her? Does this make it worse? It certainly makes it less acceptable. We do not see beauty as being so prevalent in this story which may have something to do with the Native American background to it. Many Americans see beauty as a necessary trait for a woman to succeed but this is not the case in all other cultures. I also agree that this version leaves us wondering about many, many things.

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