Native American Inhabitants No written story exists Archaeologists use artifacts to infer Folklorists have recorded songs, legends, myths Uncertain arrival As recently as 12,000 years ago or as much as 70,000 years Regardless, at least 30 times longer than Europeans not until late 1500s
European Settlers 100 years after European explorers landed in North America still no permanent settlements north of Florida 1607 English settlers- Jamestown, VA Picture from: http://northamericadredge.com/loc.html
Settlers + Natives Natives usually greeted settlers as friends Taught agriculture, woodcraft techniques Introduced to maize, beans, squash, snowshoes, canoes, etc. crucial to survival Entranced by natives They did not realize that Native Americans had own cultural values, literary traditions
Native American Tradition Oral Tradition: Stories spoken aloud rather than committed to paper; told by elders to younger generations Mainly viewed as folklore [unwritten songs, stories, etc. of a culture] for a long time Thus, the song lyrics, hero tales, migration legends, and accounts of the creation were studied more for their story value than literary It IS considered literature!
Alternatives to Written Accounts No religious texts like Bible, Koran instead, sacred symbols on animal hides, in beadwork, and woven into rugs or clothing Picture from: http://sarweb.org/?news_stockman_grant
Native American Literature Language of lyrics, narratives that have been captured in writing often poetic & moving Diverse BUT commonality deep respect for nature Tales, chants celebrate wonders of natural world, interconnectedness with world of the spirit
Lack of Language Imagine you have just landed in a new country and this is what you see when you go exploring… Since you have never seen one of these animals before, you would not have a name to call it! Picture from: http://divaboo.info/
Borrowed Language Early colonists borrowed words from the Native Americans’ vocabulary Pronunciation was difficult for them Anglicized (shortened, simplified), e.g.: otchock = woodchuck segankw = skunk Titípigmeoor mono de bosillo(pocket monkey) Pygmy Marmoset- Native to South America countries Picture from: http://jdobias.blogspot.com/2011/05/days-71-72-and-73-im-city-boy-get-me.html
Borrowed Language Picture from: http://wapedia.mobi/en/List_of_U.S._state_name_etymologies Some U.S. places originating from Native American words: -Shenandoah -Rappahannock -25 state names -5 of the 6 Great Lakes
Native American Myths & Legends
Explaining Phenomena Native Americans asked same questions as anyone else: “Why am I here?” “How did Earth come to be?” “When did life begin?” Need for explanation myths, traditional stories passed down to new generations Origin Myths: stories that explain phenomena such as customs, religious rites, natural landmarks, events beyond our control
Oral Tradition These traditionally unwritten songs, stories, poems, etc. convey a people’s values, concerns, and history What did the Native Americans value in their culture? What things did they fear? What was most important for them to pass on to future generations?
The Earth on Turtle’s Back Onondaga-Northeast Woodlands Lived in what is now central NY Originally from Canada Wood & bark long houses Did not believe in fighting Retold by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac Story about the creation of the world Earth forms as an offshoot of a celestial place called Skyland Picture from: http://www.laurenharman.com/portfolio/illustration.html
When Grizzlies Walked Upright Modoc Lived in what is now Oregon and Northern CA Farmers, fishers, hunters, weavers Forced onto Oregon reservation Some Modoc had hostile relations with US troops Retold by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz Tells origin of all Native American people Chief of the Sky Spirits’ creations, interactions with daughter