Native American Storytelling

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Native American Storytelling
Kyle Lysher
ENG/301
05/10/2015
Julie Kares
Native American Storytelling
While each culture on the planet has its own unique identity, an identity that is usually rich with traditions and habits, few cultures have such a grounded and strong cultural identity as the Native Americans. Many of their beliefs and traditions are shrouded in mystery, yet seemingly on display for the world to see - a culture of conflict and peace, acceptance and denial, the Native American culture is wrought with contradictions, contradictions that lend themselves very well to the use of storytelling that has been at the root of their culture. While other cultures may have made use of storytelling during times when the written form was unavailable to them, Native American literature continues to make use of storytelling long after education and the written word came to their culture. Storytelling is so much more than the verbal or written recitation of a previous event, it is the life blood of Native American culture and is thus embedded in their literature, as is evident in many of the tales contained within Gerald Vizenor's anthology of literature.

When browsing Native American literature, it is almost impossible to separate literary conventions from prominent works in their culture as storytelling is both a historical record and a means by which Native Americans often preserve their cultural identity. Historically, stories were typically told by one person, such as a tribal elder, to a group of others, typically younger people, as a means to speak about the history of their people while also providing an important lesson about behavior (Vizenor, 1995). Each story in Native American culture holds a different value to be imparted to a younger generation, sometimes warning young women away from men of ill intentions or recounting heroic deeds of warriors long since passed, but each story shares a common bond - the use of a narrator. "The...