Br'er Rabbit Stories - American Literature
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Br'er Rabbit Stories

Cherokee Advocate printing press
The printing press of the Cherokee Advocate in the 1800s

Br'er Rabbit is short for "Brother Rabbit". He's a rabbit who sometimes tricks people and sometimes gets tricked, like the African Anansi the Spider and like the rabbit in earlier Creek and Cherokee stories. In West Africa and Central Africa, where many of these African-Americans came from, the same kind of stories are sometimes about rabbits. Probably the Br'er Rabbit stories came from mixing of these two earlier kinds of stories in the 1800s AD, when many African people were working as slaves planting rice and picking cotton in Georgia and Louisiana. Many Cherokee people lived there, and so their stories began to mix together. By 1845, Cherokee people had printed the Tar Baby story in their newspaper. White children learned these stories too, and liked them, and by the 1880s white people began to write down Br'er Rabbit stories and get them printed in English and French books.

Some of the best known Br'er Rabbit stories are the stories of the Tar Baby, How Br'er Bear Lost his Tail, and Br'er Rabbit Takes a Ride.

People from Georgia telling these Br'er Rabbit stories out loud. (Scroll down.)

Bibliography and further reading about Br'er Rabbit stories:

Native American Literature
American History
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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