We must try to examine our own values and assumptions and perceptions so that we can see how they color our interactions with the Other.
Divide into groups and answer the following questions: When we encounter
aliens for the first time, what will they look like? How will their society
be organized? What will be the circumstances of the encounter?
Groups for Section 003: 1) Anderson, Banks, Bergen, Blalock, Topel; 2) Brower, Carlson, Christian, Cronk, Wanta; 3) Ellefson, Herold, Hinrichs, Hoffland, Weisbrod; 4) Horwitz, Janicek, Jeske, Kemp, Whiten; 5) Kinjerski, Kopaczewski, Larson, Last; 6)Lee, Lor, Marks, May; 7) McCann, McFarlen, Melby, Ott; 8) Roberts, Schultz, Shattuck, Sheridan.
Groups for Section 004: 1) Adams, Bartz, Bladl, Blegen; 2) Devenport, Faile, Felber, Grafen, Walchak; 3) Gramentz, Haas, Halweg, Janisewski; 4) Kibbe, Kumlien, Lurken, Meyer; 5) Moe, Mushel, Myers, Nelson; 6) Nonn, Olszewsky, Plichta, Pollesch; 7) Przekurat, Reckin, Schmidt, Slack, Walsko; 8) Smaby, Smith, Thompson, Thur, Wick.
How do we imagine the other long before we actually encounter it? How are those imaginings shaped by our own needs and desires?
10 million people in North America when Columbus came; only around 2
million “native” peoples now. Much diversity in language and culture among
the various tribes, more than 500 languages.
No written literature among the more than 500 different languages and tribal cultures; much variety in oral narratives – agricultural cultures, quasi-nomadic hunting cultures, lakeside dwellers, desert dwellers. A few generalizations can be made: reverence for nature as a spiritual as well as physical mother, nature is alive with spiritual forces.
Some Indian words which are part of our everday English are: canoe, tobacco, potato, moccasin, moose, persimmon, raccoon, totem.
Oral lit should be evaluated as performed as it is a tradition of performance, not of text. Many textual conventions work better in peformance than as text. Part of what we are missing is the collaboration between the author and the listener: what do you think we are missing? What is the American idea of authorship? How does that differ from the idea inherent in the oral narratives? Remember that aesthetic values are culturally contextual; what we find “beautiful” or “boring” may be very differently valued by a different culture.
Kinds of Oral Narratives: Origin and Emergence Stories (creation from elements of earth or emergence/evolution from elements of nature); Culture Hero Stories (remarkable invidual who alters original world/social order); Historical Narratives (may include stories of colonization); Trickster Tales (illustrate testing of cultural limits and practices; perhaps like fairy tales, meant to make us question and affirm values).
--How do the NA Oral Narratives seem to differ from European/Biblical mindset? Stronger relationship to nature, not just one god, no sin/Fall or evil pre-condition, therefore no need for savior, center vs. movement (wandering Jews).
“Wohpe and the Gift of the Pipe”
Wohpe is a female aspect of the Great Spirit, also known as White Buffalo
Calf Woman. P. 54 She’s a powerful, naked woman, offering sexual power
in exchange for obedience (like Aphrodite and Paris, almost).
p. 55 What is the significance of the number 4?
--Why is important for there to be obedience to rituals? How and why are rituals created by cultures?
Wohpe creates the pipe ritual, sanctifies the pipe; why is the pipe special? Why would the Lakota create a myth around the sacredness of the pipe? What “lesson” does this particular myth teach?
“Origin of Stories”
Common motif of orphan or outcast gaining power over those who would
cast him out.
--Why? What does this teach or signify on a larger scale?
Gifts in exchange for stories; makes the story into a gift as well. The cliff teaches Crow about how to tell and listen to stories, setting up some parameters for the ritual (making it into a ritual).
--How does Crow become a wise, respected man? What gives him power? Why?
“Iroquois or Confederacy of the 5 Nations”
The idea of the journey – many arduous steps to undertake, tests to
pass. Wise man is seeking union, can’t make others understand his idea
about joining together. He gets the snake-man under control by giving him
some other power – exchange of physical (violent) power for civil power.
The Iroquois confederacy was one of the models for our own democracy, including the idea of the division of government, the shared power of leaders, the union of states.
This is an allegory; what does that mean? What common motifs or symbols or figures do you notice?
“Raven and Marriage”
The story begins with “next”; what does that imply? Lots of magical
figures, unreal people, trickery. Raven is the trickster; it is his role
to defy the cultural conventions, to get us to think about them, question
them, affirm them.
--Who gets punished in this story and why? What “lessons” might this story have been meant to teach?
“Raven Makes A Girl Sick and then Cures Her”
Raven again – trickster again. He finds a ploy to have sex with this pretty young girl.
“The Bungling Host”
More trickery. This is a test of honesty, a lesson about the consequences of dishonesty.
“Creation of the Whites”
This is a very neutral, almost genial account. How does it parallel your own knowledge of the history of colonization?
Other things in Columbus’ journal that we don’t read are accounts of terror of the men who thought they would fall off the world or encounter sea monsters and near-mutiny, and of how Columbus faked the ships’ logs so the men would not know how much farther they had travelled than anyone had gone before.
--According to the journal, what are Columbus’ goals in coming to America and how can you tell?
--Who is his audience, and how do you note its presence in his manner of writing?
--As you note the behavior of the Spanish and the Native Americans (as narrated by Columbus), what apparent discrepancies do you find in their value systems? Explain.
--What aspects of this narrative conform to ideas about America (mythologies) that we might recognize even today?
--How important does religious conversion seem to be to Columbus?
--How does Columbus describe this land that he “found”?
--What does it mean to “find” something? What does it imply about ownership?