Native American Literature

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People may hate you for being different and not living by society’s standards, but deep down, they wish they had the courage to do the same (Don).” The Native American people leave a legacy on the earth, by showing us how to think about others, and the future of the world. We can see the footprints of their actions by a healthier plants, animals, and not giving up on the imagination of storytelling.

All Native Americans see that the land and animals must be cherished and handled with respect. “We believe that the animal people are our brothers and they honor us as such, for each of these brothers gives us something special which he alone possesses. We honor him for this and give his spirit the thanksgiving which is carried on the wind to the ears of the Gitchi Manito. (Broker, 56)” Here we can see the tribe of the Ojibway treating the animals as people and thanking them for the extraordinary talents they give to them and the world. After the animal people have blessed the Native Americans with their talents, they give thanks and show their appreciation. In The Sky Tree when Aataentsci tells her husband, “when I cut the tree it split in half and then fell through a great hole. Without the tree, there can be no life. I must follow it (Bruchac, 51).” She sees the trees life and afterlife and knows that life is in the tree, so she has to see where it goes, even if it means compromising her life. Turtle then saves her with the help of other animals and Aataentsci forever regrets cutting down the tree.

Native American people also believe that they need to preserve their culture for future generations. When Ignatia Broker described how the babies get their names, it differed from a ‘normal’ American child. When Oona’s name was being chosen, “according to custom of the people, came the time when the naming must be planned. The spirit of every person must be honored with a name, song, and an animal (14).” Most American names are random or a family name, not usually meaning much. Well, the Native Americans think a name must be honored with something from the planet, whether it’s a family name, a tribe song, or an animal. In addition to a naming process, the Ojibway people think every tribe child must be trained to do good for this world. “Oona was only five years old but she was already trained in many of the ways of a good Ojibway...She went to her grandparents and stood before them with eyes cast down, knowing she could not speak the many questions she wishes to ask, for they who are wise must speak first (Broker, 22).” When we were five, we barely knew right from wrong and how to correct it, but the Ojibway kids have learned more respect than many seventeen year old kids now. They find that being respectful to elders will turn into respect for all life on earth.

Lastly, the Ojibway tribe believed in keeping history and stories oral and spoken, rather than written and forgotten. Many years before Europeans came to America, “each nation had its own tradition of oral literature-stories that were passed down from one generation to the next as they were told and retold in the privacy of households and I tribal ceremonies (Glencoe 46).” Native Americans told myths, fables, and legends to pass down how the earth was made and that animals can be saviors. How the World Was Made, is basically an oral story written down. When your reading this short story you can just invision and old man telling this story around the fire to his 10 grandkids. “When the world grows old and worn out, the people will die and the cords will break and let the earth sink down into the ocean, and all will be water again. The Indians are afraid of this (Mooney, 48).” The beginning of this story is dark and mythological to teach the kids to love the earth and never stop sharing stories.

Native American literature is important to read because we get to see how other cultures lived. We can see that Native Americans seem more respectful to the nuna (land), because they are so adamant about keeping what is living alive, and preserving the dead. The Ojibway tribe also believes that keeping their heritage is important, and not to give up their past but to grow from it and blend with modern people. “Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence (Dove).

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Native American Literature. (2019, Dec 23). Retrieved June 25, 2024 , from

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