Native American Mythology—A Summary
My reading of the book American Indian Myths and Legends by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz has been an enlightening experience. I am part Cherokee and Sioux, and some other stuff thrown into the mix and felt that this was a good chance to learn more about some of my ancestors. I did learn a lot about various peoples through their stories.
I’ve learned that Coyote isn’t only a trickster, but also helpful when he needs to be. I learned that many of the Native American deities like to play tricks and have a good laugh. I’ve learned that there are flood stories and creation stories that parallel Christian creation and flood stories. I’ve learned that Native American tribes were not necessarily constrained by Christian ideals. I’ve read some amazing stories, which I hope I can remember and use throughout the rest of my life.
There are regrets I have with this project. I wish I could have dived into it deeper. I wish there would have been more Cherokee stories. While I am Sioux, which the book leans predominantly towards, I am more Cherokee and would have liked to have learned more about the stories of the Cherokee tribe. This book was really a smattering of Native American stories. There is so much more that is unexplored by me.
While reading this book of stories, there are several things I’ve noticed. I noticed that instead of the traditional three, four is the big number in Native American mythology. I’ve learned that the four directions are a huge part of myth and legend. I’ve learned that there are many flood stories that mirror the flood stories of other cultures. I’ve learned that the gods in these stories were not perfect. I’ve learned that the nuclear family wasn’t as big of a deal to many Native American tribes as it was to European peoples. I’ve realized that the loss of some of these traditions becomes even sadder when reading about what traditions have been lost.
I would like to spend a little time discussing several of the things I learned from this project because they’re interesting findings and I want to explore them further.