myths and legends powerpoint

Native American Creation Myths
The Sacred Earth
• In many Native American cultures, the entire
earth and all of the living things that inhabited
it were sacred.
• Native Americans saw animals, plants, and the
forces of nature as part of a great sacred cycle
of life that humans must treat with deep
The Sacred Earth
• Through their tales and songs, Native
Americans expressed their view of the
sacredness of the natural world.
• Native Americans believed that no one person
could own land, which instead belonged in
common to all people – and other living things
– that inhabited it.
A Legacy of Storytelling
• The Native American oral tradition began when
humans crossed from Asia to Alaska via a land
bridge now covered by the Bering Strait.
• As populations migrated south, unique cultures
and languages developed in response to different
• Thousands of languages, some as unlike each
other as English and Chinese, were spoken in the
A Legacy of Storytelling
• Each of these native cultures developed its
own stories and mythology.
• Sacred stories were often at the heart of
religious ceremonies, and in societies where
myth and reality merged, rituals were thought
to link the spirits of hunters and animals.
• Versions of these earliest stories have evolved
through hundreds of generations and are still
a living part of Native American traditions.
Native American Literature
• Oral
• Creation
• Origin
Oral Tradition (Oral Literature)
In the oral tradition,
stories are passed from
one generation to the
next aloud rather than
being physically
Creation Mythology
A myth is a traditional narrative that arises out
of a culture’s oral tradition and that portrays
historical and epochal actions and decisions
including natural phenomenon, aspects of
human behavior, or a mystery of the universe.
Creation myths tell how the world and human
beings came to exist including explanations of
the formation of the Earth and the formation
of human life.
Origin Myths
Origin myths explain how natural phenomena
and various aspects of the natural world such
as the wind, stars, sun, and moon came to
exist, or why a society has certain beliefs,
customs, and cultural traditions.
Myths told by peoples around the world share
common elements known as archetypes. An
archetype is a symbol, story pattern, event,
character type or landscape found in literature
across different cultures and eras.
For example, children with opposite qualities who
are born of the same parent. In Iroquois myth,
Sky Woman gives birth to twins, one good and
one evil. The event explains the eternal struggle
between light and dark and between order and
The Function of Myths
Myths and rituals continue to play a central role
in traditional Native American cultures. They
are used to give people a sense of order and
identity, to heal the sick, to ensure a plentiful
supply of food, to teach moral lessons, and to
initiate young people into adulthood and the
wisdom of the tribal past.
How the World Was Made – Cherokee
– Great Smoky Mountains
The Sky Tree
Huron –
(An Earthdiver myth)