Native American

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Notes on Native American literature

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Native American

  1. 1. Before There Was Time<br />Native American Literature<br />
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  4. 4. Living Oral Tradition<br />Stories kept alive by word of mouth.<br />Native American literature recognized in late 1800’s.<br />Stories, poems, songs, oratory, chants<br />Stories to teach moral lessons<br />Convey practical information re: natural world<br />
  5. 5. The Natural World<br />Animals and human are interchangeable in myths & folk tales.<br />Animals often instrument of creation.<br />Universe not dominate by humans (like in Western tales)<br />
  6. 6. Power of Words<br />Many metaphors<br />Words are as powerful & alive as the human breathing them.<br />Songs & chants can make things happen<br />Draws of similes from nature<br />
  7. 7. Preservation<br />Passed from generation to generation<br />Preserves historical continuity<br />World-view is circle, not line<br />Changing seasons, life and death, sun rising and setting<br />
  8. 8. Devices<br /> 1. Repetition 2. Enumeration 3. Incremental development 4. Ritual beginnings and endings 5. Use of archaic language <br />
  9. 9. Devices<br />6. Specific structure (Pima, Papago) <br />a. Introduction: harmonious situation b. Thesis: one or more episodes showing disruption of harmony c. Antithesis: measures employed to overcome disruption d. Conclusion: restored harmony completed by cycles of four or some power of four (four songs four nights, etc.)<br />7. Terse style<br />
  10. 10. Functions<br /> 1. Beliefs about nature of physical world 2. Beliefs about social order and appropriate behavior 3. Beliefs about human nature and the problem of good and evil<br />
  11. 11. Characteristics of Myths<br /> 1. Myths: primal world 2. Beings are animals spirits in more or less human form: monsters, confusions of nature 3. Mythic age flows into age of transformation (legends)<br />
  12. 12. Characteristics of Legends<br /> 1. Culture hero or transformer orders the world 2. Culture hero or transformer turns animal people into animals 3. Other beings become landmarks 4. Flows into historical time (real heroes)<br />
  13. 13. Night Chant<br />Part of Navajo ceremony to lend support to sick person.<br />Ill health = imbalance of nature<br />Restores balance to sick person<br />
  14. 14. Figures – Culture Heroes<br /> a. Dramatize prototypical events and behaviors b. Show how to do what is right and how we become the people we are c. Shape the world and gives it its character by theft of sun, fire, or water d. Often of divine birth e. Myths are not concerned with original owners, only with culture hero&apos;s acquisition of them<br />
  15. 15. Figures – Trickster Heroes<br />Usually animals<br />Live by wits<br />Symbolize dual nature of humans<br />Protagonists are complex<br />Mix humor & seriousness<br />Earthiness & spirituality <br />
  16. 16. Themes<br /> 1. Formation of the world through struggle and robbery (Pacific coast) 2. Movement from a sky world to a water world by means of a fall (Iroquoian) 3. Fortunate fall; creation story 4. Earth-diver myth <br /> Recreation/creation of the present world out of mud brought up from under the water by the earth-diver (muskrat or waterbird)<br />
  17. 17. Themes, Cont.<br /> 5. Theft of fire 6. Emergence myths: <br /> a. ascent of beings from under the surface of the earth to its surface b. ascent from a series of underworlds<br /> 7. Migration myths: accompany emergence myths<br />
  18. 18. Assignment<br />Jigsaw (p22-24) Discuss as a group:<br />1: The Sky Trees – What other myth involves fruit? What does the rooting of the tree symbolize?<br />2: From The House Made of Dawn – What do the old men mean?<br />3: Coyote Finishes His Work – How would you characterize (describe) Coyote? What lesson could be drawn from this incident?<br />4: Lakota Creation Myth – In what way is this myth similar to the Judeo-Christian creation story? <br />
  19. 19. Project Option #1<br />Trickster Talk Show:<br />Find other trickster tales in the literature from other countries.<br />With your group, make a talk show where these characters are interviewed regarding the traditions, lessons, and culture surrounding their tales.<br />

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