Native American Literature

Native American Literature
American Literature begins with the
American Experience
• Before Colonists (1600s), Columbus (1492),
Northmen (1000)
• Native Americans
o Each tribe’s literature is tightly woven into fabric
of daily life
o Living with the land; nature’s part in orgin
o Differences: language, government, social
customs, survival
Literature told through a variety of
Songs, ritual chants
Oral tradition===> word of mouth to young
Modoc – “When Grizzlies Walked
• Story of origin of all Native American people
o Chief of the Sky Spirits – lives in mountain
o Daughter disobeys – stranded on mountain
o Raised by grizzly-bear people
o Marries grizzly bear
o Chief puts curse on bears
o Grandchildren are the ancestors of Native
American people
Navajo – “Navajo Origin Legend”
• Creation story
• Wind and corn
wind = life
corn = sustenance
Contemporary – “Museum Indians”
• Modern rememberance of days past
• Personal recollection
• Negative representation of Native Americans
(according to Power’s mother)
Iroquois Constitution
• Define “constitution”
• 5 Nations: Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga,
Oneida, Cayuga
• Dekanawida
1. Chief´âĘpromote “Great Binding Law”
2. Organize the confederacy´âĘGreat Peace
• METAPHOR – focus upon NATURE & TREE
• Abodarho in charge of council fire
• Specific laws regarding business before the
• People in clan must recognize all members of
that clan
• Female line of descent
• Leaders shall be members for all time
• Constitution reinforces idea of harmony
between the tribes of the Iroquois
• Festivals continue
• Symbols
shell strings – completeness of the union
5 arrows – strongly bound together
each one represents one nation
represents complete union: head, body,
THEME: Constitution reinforces idea of harmony
between the tribes of the Iroquois