Native Americans First Native Americans migrated from Asia across the Bering Strait 35,000 years ago. They migrated all over North and South America, forming hundreds of tribes.
Food and Entertainment Native Americans introduce corn, squash, beans, and certain fish to the settlers. Cattle and pigs are brought from Europe. Native Americans played slight-of-hand games, dice games, lacrosse, and hoop-and-spear.
Values Bonds of kinship, or strong ties among family members, ensured a continuation of tribal customs. Elders instructed the young and in return the young honored the elders and their departed ancestors.
Values They believed that land was a source of life not a commodity to be sold. How is this an example of valuing the tribe over self?
More on the Native Americans Some beliefs: • All parts of nature are made up of animals • Everything is sacred, spiritual, and has life • Polytheistic…many gods as seen in myths • Prominent roles for women
Historical Background Christopher Columbus reached North America in 1492 Found the area inhabited by Native American tribes
Once explorers and settlers decided to stay and start building the natives could do nothing although they usually tried to fight back. • Natives had a completely different set of values and traditions: - some wouldn’t fight back until they realized they would lose their land completely - they lived off the land and held it in high regard; earth was the mother - they never used more than they needed and they never wasted anything
The settlers’ flagrant ways and intruding methods of desecrating the land came as a huge blow to the Native Americans. The Europeans also brought disease that natives were never exposed to before, which brought actual physical desecration to their people. Over time (hundreds of years) land was progressively taken away from them and they were not only robbed of their sacred land and the traditions it embodied for them, but they were forced into assimilating into the emerging European-American culture.
Native American Literature • Oral tradition of song and stories. • Focuses on the natural world and the sacred world and the importance of land. • Contains Magical and mystical elements • Types: • Creation/Origin stories: explain where people and things come from, why they exist • Historical narratives: passed down the history of their people and traditions • Trickster tales: used to teach lessons
The Native American Oral Tradition • Oral literature – stories passed down from one generation to the next as they were told and retold in the privacy of households and in tribal ceremonies. • Animals play an important role in Native American myths. • Totem – animal or object to which a clan is “connected”; revered by that clan • Trickster – animal characters with 2 sides to their personalities; rebels who often created chaos; curious, clever, creative; may exhibit wisdom (coyote, raven, mink)
Creation Stories Similar to the account in The Bible Similar from tribe to tribe Used to explain how the world/universe was created Explained the origin of man Explain the duty of humanity to maintain a balance with the natural world Sometimes had animal characteristics Sometimes non-gender, or only one gender (usually female—mother earth) Contained what the tribe generally believed the relationships between people and nature Contained origins of tribal customs and structures
Creation occurs primarily in one of five ways: • From chaos or nothingness • From a cosmic egg or primal maternal mound • From world parents who are separated • From the process of earth diving • From several stages of emergence from other worlds, or states of being • In every case, there is a sense of birth—both of the world and humans
Creation Stories Characteristics • Characteristics include: • A Creator, and the medium for creation, such as clay, fluids, and a supernatural power • The trickster, sometimes a negative force, sometimes a cultural hero who dives to the depths of nothingness to find form • The first man and woman whose job it is to continue to create both offspring, and plants and animals • The flood hero who saves mankind from the great waters and begins again
Some Dominant Themes & Motifs: relationships between humans and animals respect and reverence for mother earth and nature land as the strength of the people village/community/tribe as sovereign cyclical patterns: renewal and continuance importance of tribal traditions and history
Literary Terms Allusion: reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, sports, etc. Myth: traditional stories passed down from generation to generation Alliteration: Repetition of the initial consonant sound Simile: extended metaphor using “like” or “as” Anecdote: short story that teaches a meaning