I’m researching the Athabaskan stories and legends of the trickster god Raven for my work in progress. Set in Alaska, in a little town much like the one I grew up in, a grumpy, wrinkled old man lives… and he’s about to have a visit from a fairy princess and a pixie with an attitude.
I’m not doing in-depth research for this, I just want to have the flavour of that character for the story, so I followed a few web-links and read a book that I had in my library. The book wasn’t terribly helpful for this project, but was an enjoyable read, James Houston’s Treasury of Inuit Legends. The web revealed some interesting things.
I love finding articles online that have been long forgotten and science brought them back to us. Like this one, from the Journal of American Folklore, from 1900! Another link to Raven stories looks like it was created by students, but I enjoyed the tales.
Finally, because I found it interesting and you may, as well, this essay on Athabaskan culture.
How do you research? If I were delving into legends that would form the basis for a story, I would use multiple sources, and be careful what web resources I use. No-one proof-checks the internet! It may shock you, but I do use wikipedia. Only not as an end-source. I follow the bibliography links to original sources, and I never use just one or two.
As a student, I now have access to an Academic database online, which I make use of. You may have access to one through your local public library, definitely something to look into. The library is a great place to find source books, as well. My library allows for inter-library loans, which means I can tap into public and academic libraries state wide.
Happy Hunting! I love research, and it will take all my time if I let it, so remember your goals as you read and search.