Second Exam Study Guide Questions - ANTH 329 North American Indians

Subject To Change


Focus on section 4 - First Peoples and Oral Traditions.  Consult Schedule for reading assignments, PDF handouts, lecture points, web links, and supplemental materials.  The strongest graded essays will be those that are able to integrate examples and references from the lecture materials with textbook readings, and present them in a poignant, insightful manner.

A. Oral Traditions

1. What is conveyed through the stories: the messages? (consider the trickster and orphan quest motifs; and various cultural values)

a.  Who are the Myth Peoples, also known as the First Peoples, and what did they bring about? 

b.  What are among the fundamental "ontological principles" and "the bones" embedded in the oral traditions and what are their defining qualities?  Or rephrased, what are some of the primary mi'yp - "teachings" conveyed in the stories?  Provide an examples.

c.  Discuss the character, role and meaning of the Trickster and Orphan Quest "literary motifs."  Identify specific oral traditions that exemplify each of these motifs and discuss how the motifs are expressed in each oral tradition.  What are their implications for and correlations with human behavior?

d. Offer a discussion on the nature and dynamics of hnkhwelkhwlnet "our ways of life in the world," and its implications.

2. How are the stories told: what techniques are used, nature of language and delivery mode, how are words understood? (consider such features as terse nature of language, use of repetition, pauses, hand gestures, links, present verb tense form, audience response, the power of words, and the contrast between orality and literacy)

a. Contrast orality and oral communications with literacy and written communications.  What are the implications of orality and of literacy on how oral traditions are understood and conveyed?

b. What are among the specific techniques of telling used by storytellers in their telling of stories?

c. What is meant by the phrase, "breaking with the mouth"?  What are the implications of this understanding for storytelling and the culture of the Indian?

d. In considering the techniques often used by storytellers, the dynamics of orality, and the "power in words," how do these three processes coalesce and influence the role of the "listener" of a story?  In other words, what are among the primary intentions of a storyteller with regard to his or her audience?

e. Offer a discussion on the nature, role and importance of snukwnkhwtskhwts'mi'ls "fellow suffer," and it implications for both the "what" and "how" of stories.

3. How are the stories understood and for what purpose are they told: why do the stories continue to be told? (what are the intended consequences)

a. When and under what circumstances would the stories be told? (considering the time of the season, and the ceremonial and family cycle and events occurring in conjunction with the telling)

b. By whom and to whom would the stories be told? (considering who has the right and privilege to tell, i.e., their position in the family, and who is the intended audience)

c. What are among the purposes of the oral traditions? Or rephrased, why are the stories told?

d. What are some of the particular arguments against suggesting an "explanatory" purpose for the oral traditions?

e. What is the relationship between the oral traditions and the experiential world of actions and events, between oral narratives and ritual behavior? Or restated, what is the meaning of the phrases, "stories that make the world" and "the world is the story?"


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