This is not a real old time myth but it is what they say now, and it must have been like that.
This man from Ulimang was highly skilled in the art of warfare—like Eisenhower.
A Tahitian businessman who provides ‘Polynesian’ entertainment for tourists in Hawaii with a young Marquesan man whom he took to Samoa to be tattooed by their artists following designs recorded by early European visitors.
… as for oral Traditions, what certainty can there be in them? What foundation of truth can be laid upon the breath of man? How do we see the reports vary, of those things which our eyes have seen done? How do they multiply in their passage, and either grow, or die upon hazards?
Writing about American Indian reactions to their discovery of large fossil remains, Adrienne Mayor observes in passing that “[f]olklore scholars now generally accept that oral traditions about historical events endure for about a thousand years, although some oral myths about geological and astronomical events can be reliably dated to about seven thousand years.” Mayor's chosen task is to demonstrate that American Indian legends suggest that they rightly regarded fossils as the remains of long extinct megafauna populations. In aid of this, Mayor accepts these arguments in her own work. While this claim might seem extravagant prima facie, and while most folklorists would disown Mayor's claim, she is not without support from the work of a relatively small, but not uninfluential (and possibly growing), cadre of anthropologists, mythographers, geologists, and historians, whose efforts on behalf of deep-time oral tradition I address here.
Some interesting—even intriguing—things have been happening recently in discussions of the carrying capacity of oral tradition—its long-term historicity, in particular. À la Mayor, the thrust of this is to credit tradition with being able to preserve “intact” various pieces of information for as long as tens of thousands of years. To the historian interested in the reality of the past in oral societies, this state of affairs is challenging, perplexing, and no doubt to some, highly promising. If, for instance, it can be demonstrated that certain information in oral data is thousands of years old and at the same time an accurate recollection, then reservations about much later (say, several centuries old) orally transmitted information might need to be reassessed, and with such rethinking would come new ways to approach great swaths of the past.