Native American Literature and Oral Traditions

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, North America, United States Pages: 3 (759 words) Published: February 3, 2014
Native American Literature and Oral Traditions
A gentleman named David Eller once quoted, “Insularity is the foundation of ethnocentrism and intolerance; when you only know of those like yourself, it is easy to imagine that you are alone in the world or alone in being good and right in the world. Exposure to diversity, on the contrary, is the basis for relativism and tolerance; when you are forced to face and accept the other as real, unavoidable, and ultimately valuable, you cannot help but see yourself and your 'truths' in a new - and trouble - way.” To judge another culture based solely on the standards and/or values opposing to your own is a very complicated way of life. As far back as history dates, diverse societies have shunned others for the beliefs against their own. The many cultural ways of The Native Americans, greatly impact ethnocentrism and the oral literary tradition. During the Christopher Columbus’ era, around 1492, “Europeans spoke some two or three dozen languages, most of them closely related; and they were generally Christian in religious belief and worldview, although many groups had had contact, and conflict, with adherents of Judaism and Islam.” (Baym et al. 7). Long before Native Americans were discovered, Europeans already had their own way of “thinking,” or in other terms, “oral interpretation.” Relating to the ethnocentrism term, Europeans definitely felt superiority in their culture by having discovered their own oral literary traditions. As the Europeans approached what is now America, they learned that the Native Americans organized their societies in widely assorted forms, speaking hundreds of different languages. “The Native Americans had a lively oral culture that valued memory over mechanical means of preserving texts, although among some groups, such as the Aztecs, written traditions existed (in North America these records included shell work belts and painted animal hides, tepees, and shields), and many more groups used...

Cited: Baym, Nina, Wayne Franklin, Philip F. Gura, and Arnold Krupat. "Beginnings to 1700." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2007. N. pag. Print.
Unknown author "Quotes About Ethnocentrism." (2 Quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014.
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