Storytelling Essay

2514 words - 11 pages

Storytelling continues to be an integral part of Native American culture, providing us with an understanding of what was important to the Native Americans. Through their stories, Native Americans expressed an understanding of the environment, and the relationship that existed between themselves and their environment. These stories also provide us with a look at Native American legends, history, and a collection of knowledge critical to their survival. Native American stories are deeply rooted in their relationship with Mother Earth. Their many years connected with land, life, water and sky has created many stories explaining these important bonds with Mother Earth. From ancient ...view middle of the document...

As stated by, Leslie Marmon Silko, a Native American writer, it is a history that you won't read about in your school history book (84). As modern society continues to evolve, and technology changes the way we communicate, there continues to be a demand for this ancient medium of storytelling to carry on the Native American traditions. As Paul Lauter stated, “The tradition of storytelling by Native Americans, a pageantry tradition, relying on the talent of the story teller to perform the story, is a dimension lost in the written word” (21). It is clear from his statements, that storytelling plays a critical role in the lives of Native Americans. The actions and movements of the storyteller brings home the message expressed by the story. The storyteller is recreating the past; he is acting out the events for his audience. In their study, Richard Stoffle, David Halmo, and John Olmsted found that through storytelling, “knowledge was successfully transmitted from generation to generation. Both the storyteller and the audience perform active roles in the knowledge transmission process, resulting in a higher degree of memory retention” (711). Furthermore, in his article, “Applied Anthropology: Native American Cultural Resource Studies at Yucca Mountain”, Richard Stoffle states that one product of this active listening to storytelling results in a higher degree of memory retention. “Careful triangulation with original documents, archaeology research, and geology research has led professional cultural anthropologists and historians to the conclusion that Indian people are able to make accurate statements about things that were made or occurred long before the people were born” ( 711). In his article, Stoffle goes on to say that it is through the telling of these traditional stories, many Native Americans understand their place in the world. “Native Americans use storytelling as a thread that weaves together important events in their history” (Heath 56). It is clear that tribal history is dependent on this oral tradition. Through storytelling, cherished people, places, the ordinary, the extraordinary, along with moments of clarity, sorrow, and joy are remembered. Clearly, Native Americans keep their past alive through storytelling. In the story, “Man’s Dependence on Animals,” it is clear that the Native American culture understood the importance of the relationship that existed between man and animals. In keeping with the tradition of storytelling, the storyteller carefully uses his words to describe man as a helpless being, needing his animal friends to survive. “At birth man was helpless. Again it was the animals who assisted the spirit woman in nourishing the newborn infants by bring fruits, vegetables, berries, and drink, while the birds and butterflies brought joy” (Animal 62). This interdependence of man with his environment is clearly illustrated in this story. To further illustrate this interdependence, the storyteller...

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