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Native American Mythology: The Basics
Transcript of Native American Mythology: The Basics
Scholars estimate that there were around 10 million people living in the Americas before the land was "discovered" by European explorers.
These natives lived in hundreds of separate tribes,
While the specific myths and tales varied from tribe to tribe, many of the stories share similar characteristics.
Because the Native Americans believed in the importance of storytelling, each tribe also had its own distinct body of mythology and literature.
Native Americans often used myths to explain natural mysteries, make sense of the world around them, and teach lessons about how life should be lived.
For example, these tales might explain:
How the world was created
How a tribe ended up in a specific location
How local plants and animals were created
Why a particular natural phenomenon occurs
and each tribe had its own culture, language, government, and religion.
The stories often include:
1. A problem that must be solved
2. Animals, particularly ones specific to a tribe's geographical region
3. A deep appreciation and respect for nature
6. A "trickster" character, often a coyote or a raven
4. Magic, trickery, and/or violence
The trickster character usually has 2 sides to its personality.
On one hand, the trickster is often selfish, foolish, and mean-spirited.
On the other hand, the trickster's actions are meant to be humorous, and they often end up creating something positive or teaching an important lesson.
The following video is an oral and visual retelling of a Native American myth. As you watch, identify any ways in which the myth includes the common elements of Native American literature. Record your observations in the appropriate places on the chart provided in your notes.
5. A lesson about Native American values or ways of life