Saturday, April 20, 2013

Native American Folk Tales

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As much as I would have loved to have talked about the Jewish folk tales, I just knew I had to talk about the Native American tales. I have always been interested in Native American culture and real recently I have been intrigued in justice issues pertaining to Native Americans. What I find to be very interesting about the situation as a whole is that no one is talking about it! Here we have people who are being marginalized and greatly ignored, and yet nobody really knows or care to know. Right now, it seems to be that the equality issues that are popular and fought for are those of women, African American, and homosexuals. I am in absolutely no way saying these are not important issues to be fighting for justice and equality in, but with such a large passion being stirred right now amongst many people, how come the Native Americans are still being marginalized. The issues of rights pertaining to them is being marginalized on the list of people being marginalized!... Sorry I kind of got off on a tangent. Back to folklore. I love Native American folklore. For my Senior year Honors History project I had to research N. Scott Momoday and his literary works. He is a brilliant author and a great advocate for his people. Through his novels and poems, he has been able to both show how rich in culture Native American's are, and also how they are struggling as a people. When I read the short stories and poems that he wrote, I feel in love with Native American tales. What I love so much about them is that it mixes in a lot of beliefs and explanations of why things are. Like in the tale we read of "How Men and Women Got Together", there is a wonderfully creative depiction of how though men and women may be different, they can come together and live, procreate, enjoy each others company, etc. Or like in the "How mosquitoes came to be" story you can see the same thing. I think what I see in these stories is more of an understanding of the necessity of culture preservation. These stories were told to teach children not necessarily only lessons, but also why it was important to live in the society and abide in the culture.  With the European stories we have read, they were only written down as a means to preserve culture, but it does not seem like they were told with that goal in mind. Overall, I love Native American folk tales and they will always have a special place in my heart.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

African-American Story-Telling Tradition

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I found that Dr. Johnson-Ross' lecture on African American story-telling traditions to be very interesting on an information level, but that is not why I enjoyed it as much as I did. What made her lecture so awesome to behold was how she talked about the subject. It was very apparent that she took great pride in this, and there is great reason for that. Dr. Johnson-Ross grew up throughout the Civil Rights Movement, was in the first desegregated high school class for her school, and her sister is very active in the African American literary community. It is one thing to talk about something you have knowledge about, but it is a whole different thing learning the same exact information but from someone who has the passion behind it from what it meant to them and still means to them as it has shaped them throughout their life. It is like when Dr. Esa talks about things that pertain to German culture or folk beliefs. You can just see how personal it is because it is a part of who he is. Anyway, the lecture was really sweet hearing all of how things were done with the passing on and the telling of the stories. The people and places are very important when it comes to the oral tradition. Within the community, the stories would be told around the ginormous Baobab Tree.  The Baobab Tree is a giant tree that grows in Sub-Saharan where tribes would build their villages around, making it the center of the village. The people who would tell these stories were usually the Griots and Griottes. These people were the Oral Traditionalists, among many other things such as historians, diplomats, translators, musicians, and teachers. They were supported by the local ruling power to preserve the culture of the people. This is where I feel as though there is a difference between the European folk tales and African inspired tales. In European culture, the tales reflected the zeitgeist and adapted to what the culture was at the time. With African tales, they seem to be more preserved from a past time and a remembrance of what the tales and culture was, kind of like what the Grimm brothers and Perrault did. Furthermore, I feel as though there were more direct themes to origin like stories in the African tales. Like the European tales, animals play big roles. However, in the African tales, there were more how the animals came to be, for example, the story of the alligator and how he got his little back bumps.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and I feel like I learned a lot