Presentation on theme: "AMERICAN LITERATURE BBL 3230. WEEK 1 Conceptual framework for American Literature - A brief history of the Native Americans - Myths - Legends - Archetype."— Presentation transcript:
WEEK 1 Conceptual framework for American Literature - A brief history of the Native Americans - Myths - Legends - Archetype
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NATIVE AMERICANS THE FIRST AMERICANS
The first Americans descended from Asia. These were the first people to live in North America. That is why we call them Native Americans. These people have lived in North America for thousands of years, and there are still Indian communities today.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from Europe to find an easier route to Asia. He sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean hoping to find India. However, there was land in his way that he and other European explorers did not know existed. He and his crew had landed in the Bahamas. However, Columbus was convinced that he had landed in India and referred to the people he met as Indians. These people were not Indians. They were Americans. They were the Native or original Americans. Because Columbus had told so many people about the Indians, the Native Americans are often called Indians even to this day.
Many different Native American groups lived in North America. Each group had its own language and customs. A custom is the special way a group of people does something.
The Plains tribes lived in the area of our country known as the Great Plains. The Plains Natives included tribes such as the Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, Blackfeet, Comanche, and Pawnee.
The Great Plains region was made up of grasslands, valleys, streams, and hills. There were very few trees found in the Great Plains area. The photo shown below is an example of the land within the Great Plains region.
PLAINS HOUSING The Plains Natives were Nomads, people who wander or migrate. The natives had to migrate to follow the buffalo. Therefore these tribes needed shelter that was easy to pack up and put together. Plains Natives lived in teepees made of buffalo hides held up by wooden poles. These teepees were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The door to the teepee was a round opening which faced east toward the rising sun. In the middle of the teepee, a small fire was built for cooking and warmth. Plains Indians usually slept on buffalo robes on the teepee's floor.
Clothing Plains Natives made all of their own clothes. Most all of their clothes were made from animal skins. Antelope and deer were the most often used. The women were responsible for making clothes for their entire tribe. Men typically wore animal skin leggings, a loin cloth, and a belt. They rarely wore shirts, instead they wrapped buffalo furs over their shoulders. These were known as buffalo robes.
A distinguished man, who was known for his bravery, often wore a grizzly bear claw necklace. A man who was considered to be a distinguished warrior often wore an eagle feather war bonnet. The number of feathers on the war bonnet related to the number of brave acts performed by each man.
Food Plains Natives got their food by either hunting it, growing it, or gathering it. Some tribes grew crops such as maize, beans, and pumpkins. Others gathered wild fruits and vegetables. Food was often traded between the different tribes.
PLAINS RELIGION The Plains tribes believed in underwater spirits who controlled all animals and plants. Above the sky, they believed their was an upper world ruled by the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds were the most powerful of the spirits. The Plains Natives believed in many gods. They believed the gods showed themselves in the form of the sun, moon, stars, and anything that was strong or strange, such as an animal, person, or even an odd-shaped stone.
Plains Natives believed that particular men were chosen to see the power of the gods through visions. To receive a vision the man had to go to a lonely place. He would stay there for several days without food or water. During this time the vision was "seen" by the man. Men who became known for receiving many visions became known as medicine men. These men were said to be able to see the future and cure diseases.
Powwows were one of the Plains ceremonies. A powwow was a celebration or prayer to the Great Spirit. An important Plains ceremony was called the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance took place in the summer months. It was a ceremony of celebration. The Sun Dance lasted around four days. During this time dancers performed the same exact movements and had nothing to eat or drink. They lifted their eyes to the sun for as long as they could endure it.
Another important dance was the Ghost Dance. This was a dance performed nightly in which the Indians believed that they could speak to the gods and their ancestors. They also believed that this dance would help get their land back.
Sitting Bull was one of the most famous Chiefs of the Plains Culture. He was a Sioux leader in the area that is now known as South Dakota. He lived from l83l-l890. During this time gold was discovered on the land that Sitting Bull's tribe lived on. The government tried to force the Sioux Indians to move off their land. Sitting Bull and his tribe would not peacefully move. In June, l876, a major battle occurred between Sitting Bull and U.S. soldiers led by George Custer. This became known as the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The Eastern Woodland tribes lived in the area that is green. This is East of the Great Plains. The tribes included the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Wampanoag, and Iroquois.
The woodlands of the northeast part of the United States is a land of rivers, streams, lakes, and, most of all, trees and plants. The weather isn't too harsh. The summers are hot and humid, and winters are cold and snowy. There is a lot of rain so plants grow well. Where there are many plants, there are many animals. The Woodland Indians did not have any trouble finding and growing food.
The Woodland people depended upon the forest and land around them as the natural resources to use for shelter, clothing, and food.
Woodland Housing The Woodland tribes lived in villages of wigwams and longhouses near a lake or stream. Wigwams were made by bending young trees to form the round shape of the home. Over this shape pieces of tree bark were overlapped to protect the Indians from bad weather. Over the bark a layer of thatch, or dried grass, was added. A small hole from the top allowed smoke from the fires to escape. Beds were matting covered with animal skin.
Living in the woods meant there were plenty of resources, including food. Woodland tribes were hunters and gatherers. They hunted bear, moose and bison, and were effective fishermen. They also ate beavers, raccoons, rabbits, corn, beans and berries. Woodland Indians grew squash, pumpkins and melons. The Iroquois used a bow and arrow to hunt. They would sometimes wear the skin of a deer over their body to sneak up to the deer. The Iroquois also used traps for small animals. A canoe made from a hallowed out tree was used to fish in the lakes and streams nearby. Nets and traps were also used to catch fish. Food
Woodland Religion W o o dl a n d In di a n s a knot. When someone in a Woodland tribe died, the tribe would hold a cry ceremony. The chief sang and danced around the fire. This ceremony lasted for five days. The day before it started, five knots were tied in a piece of milkweed. Every day of the ceremony, they would untie a knot.
Face paint was a big deal to Woodland Indians. They wore it to express feelings each color meant something: red = life, black = death or eternal grief and purple = royalty) and for special occasions. Before going to war, they painted themselves, performed magical rites and took special medicines. Several of the tribes performed many songs and rites. They used special equipment that they thought helped them talk to their gods. They also wore masks to cure diseases. The scary masks were supposed to scare the evil spirit out of the sick person.
The Cherokee were considered one of the most "civilized" Indian tribes of North America. They had their own government, laws, courts, and schools. A Cherokee Indian named Sequoyah invented a written language called "Talking Leaves". It had 86 characters. Within a few years all of the Cherokees could read and write it.
Between 1790 and 1830 the white man began to push westward into the Cherokee territory. The Cherokee fought hard to keep their land. They even took their fight against being removed from their land to court. At first it seemed like they might win. But they were forced to leave the land they loved.
IN ONE of the saddest stories in our history, thousands of men, women, and children were forced off of the land they loved and moved into crowded forts with very little food. They were then forced to walk over a thousand miles to what is now Arkansas. It was an unusually cold winter. Many of the Indians were barefoot with little clothing. They were forced to walk through snow and ice. They ate only what they could find along the way. Many Indians died along the way, especially older Indians and children. Their bloody footprints left trails of blood in the snow. They cried as they went because they were leaving the land they loved, the land they had called home for so many years. This horribly long, sad journey of the Cherokee has become known in history as "The Trail of Tears".
Native Americans were on this continent centuries before Europeans arrived There were 100s of thriving unique nations Each had/has its own tradition of literature that was passed down orally Families kept the tradition going; ceremonies were another place where oral stories were retold The stories often called myths can be an important part of Native American spiritual beliefs
An Important Part of the Oral Tradition is the Myth Myth – an anonymous oral story The myth relies on the supernatural to explain a natural phenomenon, human behavior, or mystery Myths explain why the world is the way it is/they help make sense of the world Making sense of the world
The purposes of the creation myth: To explain the workings of the natural world To support and validate social customs To guide people through the trials of living To instill a sense of the mystery of the universe and attempts to explain that mystery
More about myths Creation myths – how human lives came to exist Origin myths – why phenomena like the stars, moon, and sky came to be. Native American myths often emphasize a strong spiritual bond between the creator, humanity and the natural world. It’s the duty of humanity to maintain a balance between these entities.
Rhythm and Native American Myths Native Americans often used rhythm to help them remember their very long stories Drums and cymbals were used as aids Also believed that the drum repetition could enable the singer to communicate with the world of animals, nature, and spirits
The Oral Tradition The stories we’ll read were passed on by word of mouth It is unknown where the stories originated. Written down in the last 100 years These stories tell us how the world came to be. Many rely heavily on a reverence of the natural world
Recurring ideas among (even unconnected) native American groups Humans have a connection with nature Conflict between ancient customs and modern life, past and present Storytelling is important (“The toryteller…”) Life as a circle Fire as a symbol
The world on the turtle’s back What does this story reveal about: – The roles of women in their society – The role of nature (the earth, animals) in society – The origins of certain culture/customs – The roles and beliefs about the gods/higher power
The significance of myths Myths and rituals play a central role in traditional Native American cultures They were important in giving people a sense of order and identity. They gave people a way to ensure food, explain the unexplainable heal the sick, and teach lessons.
Totem In many cultures, each group, clan or family would be said to descend from an animal or natural object called the totem Example: the Bear Clan would honor the bear, and it in turn would be their guardian spirit That group would be largely responsible for maintaining the myth of the bear The Mohawks had three clans: the wolf, bear, and turtle People frequently attributed the characteristics of animals to people Example: bear is strong, dangerous; turtle is reserved methodical
Trickster Tales Are part of Native American mythology -The Trickster is an animal with two sides to its personality -They create trouble and chaos and reveal wisdom -Often is a coyote, a raven or a mink -Main difference between tales and myths: myths were regarded as truth, tales as fiction. Characteristics: Magic Trickery Violence Purpose: – To explain the origins of some aspect of the natural world and/or teach a lesson
Trickster Tales : Key Terms Animal People – the first inhabitants of the world; spirit beings that could take the shape of human or animal (ie: coyote) Anthropomorphism – giving human behavior, characteristics, or motivations to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena
Archetypes What is an archetype: –An archetype is the way we describe characters; think of them as general categories of characters. –Which archetypes are seen in Native American Literature? Trickster: a god, goddess, spirit, human, or animal who plays pranks or disobeys normal rules and behaviors. Earth Mother: the bountiful spirit of the earth Faithful Companion: supports the hero along the way