The Native American Mythologies are myths of lessons that every man can apply in his daily life. Many have misconceptions that Native American mythologies are just stories that are capable of entertaining the listeners. Once a person heard of a Native American myth, he can conclude that they are not just simply stories. Instead, they are able to serve us guidance and inspiration, brought by old cultures and traditions, which present teachings and lessons applicable to the diverse situations we encounter in life.
Native American Mythology depicts legends and mysteries in the history of the past. Usually, they are used as references pertaining to the correct practice of values in life. Since the history of mythology, the subject of life mysteries is prevalent in Native American mythologies. Myths present circumstances in life that may occur every now and then in the daily challenges we face - events that we can relate to once they happened to us. Should a person is about to perform duties that may pertain with similarities to the act of acknowledging responsibilities, as the deities of the old times, we may find similar struggles from the Native American myths. From there, we can deduce the teachings and values the deities have applied.
Myths, in its history, reveal the faith of the Native Americans. The importance and significance of mythology is not in the unexplainable stories that make them astonishing. The teachings it provides, hidden from the characters that are imaginary, as we may say, make us understand the mysteries of life. The enduring power of the myths makes us relate to the different dimensions in the world, not to make us live in its mysteries, but to present us with ways of how to relate with our present natural world. One literature on myths states the following aspects of mythology.
If [the characters of the myth] act like people, then events are less foreign, thus making them easier to relate to other people (Analyzing Mythology). Perhaps they can then negotiate with the world as they see the world negotiate with them. They foster this shared set of perspectives, and values.
The approach of almost all Native American mythologies is to present supernatural beings or mystical world where people fight to survive in the tests of life. Legends and stories tell us of profound imaginary characters, such as animals with human characteristics, or spirits that guide people. These representations are the tools of the Native Americans in implying to us the meaning of life. From which, we can derive the moral values of the stories through the philosophical symbols the Native Americans mythologize.
Although most part of the Native American mythologies concerns deities, the myths do not intend to make us practice the same beliefs. While it was accounted in the history of Native Americans, especially the Indians, that honoring deities and offering ceremonies to them are parts of their daily living, there is already a difference on how the current generation interpret the native mythologies. Mostly, in our intellectual capabilities influenced by the vast developments in technology, the deities of Native American mythologies are now interpreted as symbolisms of the common components in life and environment that we encounter everyday. Despite of this, no matter how diverse of interpretations may exists, the true value of Native American mythologies still lives and are comprehensible to many of us - that mythologies provide us with moral values that can nurture and develop our outlooks in life.
As deities are significant element of most Native American mythologies, the interpretation for its use in myths may vary and may depend on the generation of the interpreter. One literature suggests an interpretation of deities as For example, Albert Eistein would be the god of intellect and imagination, and another person may include Bill Gates as the god of computing. Myths offer these role models to children who pattern themselves after heroes, with archetypical characteristics, like Superman or Wonder Woman, in today's society.
Perhaps, one reason why the Native Americans created myths is to preserve their culture, traditions, and beliefs. In simple words, myths preserve their identities. Through myths, the Native Americans were able to communicate with the natural world, the animals, and the spirits. They were able to establish their identities in myths that help us learn part of their cultures. Through myths, we were able to obtain ideas of the past of the Native Americans.
Our Native American ancestors lived their lives in values that have strength, courage, and wisdom. This is how we see them in the myths. With the help of the deities and the guardian spirits, myths are able to impart us the teachings of the Native Americans. The continuity of conveying the lessons of myths is made possible by passing the stories from one generation to another through storytelling. However, as time goes by, the originality of myths somehow vanishes, with one or two changes every time they are told. But the essential thing is that the values embedded in mythologies remain. From an essay on Native American Mythology, one storyteller suggests that If you retell [a tale], please remember, many of these begin or end in a certain way. Try to keep them as they are. That way, generations from now, many people can enjoy the same legend that you do.
Characteristics of Native American Mythologies
The mythology of North America brings to us the legends of the past. Its myths encompasses not only of the people of old times, but of the beautiful and mesmerizing natures that includes mountains, rivers and lakes, deserts, and valleys and plains. The natives of North America consider these natural wonders as sacred elements of life. Hence, it is undeniably apparent that they were the themes of many mythological stories.
Another important part of Native American mythology is the animal. Aside from the natures and lands, many of the Native American tales and legends depict animals as a component of stories. Giving life to the characters of animals, they are represented to have human characteristics, sometimes in a magical form. They are endowed with special powers and are able to communicate with human beings. An example of an animal that was used in Native American mythology is the wolf. Old tribes consider the wolf as an animal with strong and inspiring strength. Because of its good hunting ability, they identify the wolf as their guidance. Often, wolves are believed to be the mediums of special spirits who bestow the wolves with power. One myth depicted the wolf as the creator of earth. From The Role of Fox, Lynx, and Wolf in Mythology, Astrid Wallner tells the following myth.
According to the Ute, a tribe from the Rocky Mountain area of Colorado, the wolf played a major role in how the people came to the earth. The wolf had carried a heavy bag on his back and therefore could only move very slowly. After a while the bag became so heavy, he hardly could walk any further and decided to lay down.
While doing so, the bag burst and all the people poured out and went to the different places on earth (L ng 1989).
However, not all Native American mythologies illustrate the wolves favorably. Sometimes, wolves are suggested to be evil. An instance of which is the myth of Navajo. In the story, wolves were believed to be witches pretending to be wolves (Wallner, 1998).
Other special creations of God such as the earth and the sky are forenamed with human identities in native North American mythology. The earth is recognized as Mother Earth, while the sky is termed as Father Sky.
Long time ago, Native American myths were created to entertain people. However, the proper context of the tales and legends of Native American myths impart teachings that bring lessons in life. They are today's traditional but classic forms of literature and stories handed down from one generation to another. For many writers and those who work in the field of mythic, Native American myths are the evidence of our ancestors' cultures. They are the living remnants of the Native Americans.
Native American myths embrace traditions, cultures, and beliefs in its stories. Most of the daily practices and customs of Native Americans became the building blocks of the myths that were handed down to us today. Even their religions, which they consider a very sacred element of every man's life, are exemplified in the Native American mythologies. Mythologies and religions of Native Americans are somehow closely related. The natural objects such as the mountains, as embedded in mythologies to be sacred, are used in real life as settings of rituals and ceremonies in prayer to gods and goddesses.
Originating from the religious cultures of the Native Americans, the prevalence of spirits was born in mythologies. Most believed in the supremacy of Great Spirit as the creator of the world (Oaklamia, 2003). This deity was given with many names such as Amotken…