Artistry in Native American myths
This challenging study analyzes nearly forty superb stories, from mythic narratives predating Columbus to contemporary American Indian fiction, representing every traditional Native American culture area. Developing recent ethnopoetic scholarship and drawing on the critical ideas of Mikhail Bakhtin and Pierre Bourdieu, Karl Kroeber reveals how preconceptions deriving from our hypervisual, print-dominated culture distort our understanding of essential functions and forms of oral storytelling. Kroeber demonstrates that myths do not merely preserve tradition but may transform it by performatively reenacting the concealed sociological and psychological conflicts that give rise to social institutions. Showing how the variability of mythic narrative fosters communal self-renewal, Kroeber offers startling insight into Native Americans' perception of animals as "cultured," their creation of visually unrepresentable tricksters by aural imagining, and the rhetorical means through which oral narratives may not only reflect but even redirect political change. By making understandable the forgotten artistry of oral storytelling, Kroeber enables modern readers to appreciate fully the tragic emotions, hilarious ribaldry, and haunting beauty in these astonishing Native American mythic narratives.
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Excerpt from Concerning the League Iroquois
The Sand Hills Blackfoot
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animals anthropology arrows artistry asked Atatalia audience Bad Wound's Bakhtin began birds Blackfeet Blackfoot Boasian buffalo Bull called canoe ceremony Chemehuevi Coyote Coyote's culture Dance discourse episode ethnopoetics Folklore Fools Crow Girl Who Married Golizhi Grizzly Woman Haikya heard hill human hunter hunting imagining Indian myths Iroquois Iya's killed Lakota Lipan Apache living lodge looked Married the Bear Morning Star mother mountain myth tellings myth's mythic mythology narrative Native American Navajo never Nez Perces old woman oral penis Peters's practices prairie dogs Press Pulekukwerek rabbit recognize Respected Old Coyo-ote retelling river robe Scarface sing Sioux sister skin So-at-sa-ki social societies Star Boy Stone Boy story teller thought tion tipi Tlingit Toelken told took traditional tree Trickster turnip University Water Bug Western Wishram Wolf women Wound young younger brother Yurok