A landmark volume that revolutionized our understanding of the power and significance of Native stories and storytellers in North America, "In vain I tried to tell you" showcases the methodology and theory of ethnopoetics. Focusing on the rich Native storytelling traditions of the Pacific Northwest, Hymes investigates what particular stylistic and linguistic devices and patterns in oral tales reveal about rhythm and order in the cultures creating them. A breathtaking series of analyses of particular myths and their relationship to performance forms the centerpiece of this volume. The concluding essays explore Native perspectives and approaches to stories, highlighting the reasons behind the storytellers' choices of characters, genres, and titles. This edition features a new preface by the author, a more comprehensive general index, and an expanded index to analyzed translations and English-language texts.