The native people of this land did not pass their stories down through books and letters, but rather through the sharing and memorizing of stories by word-of-mouth, also know as the oral tradition. Native American tribes across the Americas had a rich tradition of storytelling that served to explain the natural world around them, define their relationship with nature, and record and remember their tribal history. Interestingly, it was the role of the women in the tribes to preserve this history, tell these stories, and pass this knowledge down to the next generation of the tribe.
As we begin our study of American Literature, we will start with the traditions of this country’s native people and discuss how their traditions fit into the larger context of global literary traditions, and examine how their literary and oral traditions were affected, changed, and unfortunately in many cases, eradicated by the influx of explorers and settlers.
We will be reading three creation stories –Click here to access the Native American Creation Myths
Additionally, the video below provide an overview of the literary oral tradition of the Native Americans. We will be taking notes over this in class, and you may re-watch the video as many times as needed below:
While watching this video you need to practice the Cornell Note-taking methods we reviewed in class today. If you forgot how to do this, please see the post on how to take these notes.
Also, remember that we’re not just examining the oral tradition of the Native Americans, but also how their storytelling tradition fits into the larger context of literature. You should hopefully remember your study of archetypes from 9th grade, but in case you have forgotten please visit the link below to view a Prezi I have put together for you to review.
As you review the story, be sure to answer the question: How does ‘The Earth on the Turtle’s Back’ represent the themes of Native American storytelling?
Also, be sure to consider how the settings (Skyland, The Great Tree, Earth as a lush land of plants and animals) and characters (The Great Chief, the pregnant Wife, the Muskrat and all the other animals) are archetypes.
In class we reviewed and practiced how to write concise summaries of texts – this is an important skill for discussion, for review and studying and for comprehension.
We practiced summarizing the creation stories “The Earth on the Turtle’s Back” and “When Grizzlies Walked Upright”, as well as summarizing how the themes of Native American creation stories were present in each of them.