Native American Voices

Native American Oral Traditions
English III
The Sun Still Rises in the Same Sky
 Few people have been as appreciated and, at the
same time, as misrepresented as the many different
cultures today called American Indian or Native
 Native American Literature has been a living oral
tradition, but was never treated with the same
respect as European, or Western, literature.
 Most stories have a similar oral background
 Native American cultures use stories to teach moral
lessons and convey practical information about the
natural world.
 American Indian literature also reflects a view of the
natural world that it more inclusive than the one
typically seen in Western literature.
Generalizations (cont…)
 The Native American universe is not dominated by
human beings. Animals and humans are often
interchangeable in myths and folk tales.
 Origin myths may even feature animals as the
instruments of creation.
Generalizations (cont…)
 All American Indian cultures also show a keen
awareness of the power of metaphor.
 Words are as powerful and alive as the human
breathe that carries them.
 Songs and chants can make things happen—call
game animals, bring rain, cure the sick, or destroy
and enemy.
 For Native Americans, speech, or oratory—often
relying on striking similes drawn from nature—is a
highly developed and respected literary form.
Oral Tradition
 Passed on from generation to generation, oral
traditions preserve historical continuity.
In what ways do stories help preserve the cultures from
which they come?
Characteristics of Native American
Oral Tradition
 Provide explanations about the world and its origins
 Teach moral lessons and convey practical
 Reflect the belief that the natural world includes both
human beings and animals
 Respect speech as a powerful literary form
 Let’s talk about when you were a child. What were
some stories you were told or learned as a child?
 Now, think about how that story changed your
 Did it have a moral lesson? Teach you something
about life?
 Did it teach you something about nature?
 The Boy Who Cried Wolf
 Aesop’s Fables
 Think of Disney movies!
 Most myths contain archetypes.
 An ARCHETYPE is a very old imaginative pattern
that appears in literature across cultures and is
repeated through the ages. Archetypes include
characters, plots, images, themes, and settings.
 An ANTONYM is a word that has the opposite
meaning of another word.
 Some examples are