Native American Storytelling Essay

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American Indian Studies

Native American Storytelling

The group of people known as the Native Americans or American Indians are the native residents of the Northern and Southern American continents who are thought to have traveled across the Bering land bridge from Asia. When the new society and the already established, came together, years of imposed philosophy, domination and rebel warfare were begun. The great impediments of religion, ethics and world-views were the three main issues which lead to the culture conflict between the Puritans and the Native Americans. Religion played a very significant role in both Puritan and Native American society, though their beliefs varied significantly. According to Puritan beliefs, God had chosen a select quantity of people to join him in heaven. On the other hand, the Native Americans believed that everyone was the same and that no one was better than anyone else. The Puritans relied on their Bible which detailed their whole religion and held the responses to all likely questions. The Native Americans depended on oral communication of their religion. Therefore, while the Puritans had a constant place to turn to when they wanted to figure out what they believed, Native Americans were required to fill in the blanks amid stories they had heard when it came to their fundamental principles (Culture Clash: The Puritans and the Native Americans, 2011).

The Native Americans do not share a single, incorporated body of mythology. The many different tribal groups each developed their own stories about the formation of the world, the appearance of the first natives, the place of people in the world, and the lives and deeds of gods and idols. Yet in spite of the massive variety of Native American mythologies, certain mythic ideas, characters, and stories can be found in many cultures. "Underlying all the myths is the idea that spiritual forces can be sensed through the natural world -- including clouds, winds, plants, and animals -- that they shape and sustain. Many stories explain how the actions of gods, heroes, and ancestors gave the earth its present form" (About Indian Mythology, 2012).

Indian religion and mythology are directly intertwined and cannot really be divided. Furthermore, both are so enormous and mystified that any generalization is likely to generalize. "The earliest Indian texts are the Vedas, a series of sacred hymns in honor of the Aryan gods, who personified natural forces such as the sun, storm, fire, soma, and the like. The Vedic religion was materialistic, devoted to obtaining power, prosperity, health, and other blessings by means of ritual and sacrifice" (About Indian Mythology, 2012).

The diverse climates, landscapes, and wildlife of North America inclined the myths American Indians told. Indians in the Eastern part of North America lived in thick forests sprinkled with lakes and rivers. A lot of their myths speak of forest demons, spirits, and monsters. The Eastern Indians also believed the notion of an upper and lower world ruled by a heavenly being. On the flat, grassy plains of Middle America, Indians became skilled buffalo hunters and lived wandering lives after the arrival of horses, brought by Spanish explorers in the 1500's. Their wandering lifestyle influenced their beliefs. The Plains Indians' mythology stressed the significance of personal quests to improve their relationships with spirits. In the Northwest, Indians lived in a comparatively mild climate with access to rich provisions of food, especially salmon. These Indians developed prolific ceremonies with detailed decorations, most notably found in massive totem poles. Each tribe had a mythical animal creator. Indians in the Southwest tended to live together in communities in a dry, hot climate. They mostly farmed for their food, and their myths frequently use images of earth as a fertile mother (How Did the Different Regions in North America Influence American Indian Myth, 2012).

Knowledge is gained through ones experiences and others' as well. It is thought that since human life eventually ends; humans cannot determine everything by themselves. People are educated in a lot of lessons by way of stories passed down from their relatives. Culture is usually passed from generation to generation by way of stories, myths, and re-enactments or rituals and observances. "Oral tradition is the spoken relation and preservation, from one generation to the next, of a people's cultural history and…[continue]

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