Presentation on theme: "Native American Literature. Our American identity as we know it is a product of our past. Our class will focus on literature which reveals how we arrived."— Presentation transcript:
Native American Literature
Our American identity as we know it is a product of our past. Our class will focus on literature which reveals how we arrived at our society and culture today. We study Native American literature out of a respect for the indigenous cultures who were here before the European explorers as well as a respect for their cultural and literary influence throughout the years. Historical & Cultural Context
Indigenous Americans inhabited this continent before anyone else. They endured many invasions from the Spaniards for the following primary reasons: 1. land 2. gold 3. crops (all of which were plentiful)
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.
Indian removal was legalized with the Removal Act of 1830, which stipulated: 1. the tribe “consent” to move 2. new land was to replace the old
This “manifest destiny” resulted in what would later be known as the Trail of Tears, or the mass forced exodus of thousands of Native Americans from their sacred land to government reservations. From there, efforts to “civilize” them so that they could be mainstreamed into society continued.
Indian children were sent to boarding schools far away from the reservations so that the authority of their parents/elders would be undermined. Language, and consequently, cultural identity was legally confiscated. Children were harshly punished for using their own language and were separated tribally to immerse them in English only. Although great strides have been made in recent years for Indian Sovereignty, Native Americans continue to struggle because of the events of the past.
Storytelling & Oral Tradition Long before European explorers came to North America, Native Americans had a rich literary tradition of their own. Their stories, histories, and legends were shared and preserved through oral tradition. The storyteller is one whose spirit is indispensable to the people.
NOTE = While oral stories are meant to be passed down through generations verbally, it is important to remember that written transcripts are not exactly representative of the oral performance. But a translation/ transcription of the stories is the closest we can come to sharing the Native American culture and tradition.
These oral stories were chanted, spoken, sung and repeated over and over until embedded into the memories of the next generations. The Native American oral tradition was the only way to pass on tribal history, heritage, and cultural practices. In order to continue hundreds of years of a tribe’s history the young must listen and remember the stories the elders tell and then pass them on.
Creation Myths 1.SHOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO THE TRIBE! (corn, animals, rituals, etc.)- CULTURAL DETAILS!!! 2.State the place and people of origin 3. Describe what existed before the “creation” 4. EXPLAIN the “creation” of things or the beginnings of rituals 5. EXPLAIN who or what did the creating
Some Dominant Themes & Motifs: You will fill this information in as we read- so leave a space for this information in your notes.
Myths Contain supernatural elements Often explain the unexplainable Have also been told in order to teach a moral lesson. All cultures have myths, though often do not see their stories myth but as fact.
Four Functions of Myths: To awaken us to the mystery & wonder of creation To explain the workings of the natural world: every corner, every rock, hill, stone, and flower has its place and its meaning. To pass down the moral and ethical codes that support and validate social customs To teach: to guide the people through the trials of living
Regions The regions in which Native American’s lived were a driving force behind their traditions. In small groups you will receive handouts that contain information on the Eastern Woodlands, the Great Plains, the Southwest Desert and the Pacific Northern Coast Make a chart that include some information on temperature, rainfall levels, topography, wildlife, and vegetation in these regions