Native American Literature

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Visualize yourself as a young Native American boy, hunting for the first time. You strap on a pair of leather moccasins and fasten buttons on your jacket. You put on face paint and grab a bow. You take three of your father's arrows and head out into the forest. You see rabbits, squirrels, and many birds, but that type of game isn't a big enough prize for you. You want to prove to your family that you are a man and bring home the big elk. You cross a stream and smell the fresh breeze. You sing as you are walking, praying to Mother Earth that you will catch a big game. As you come to a small opening, you see a female elk grazing in the grass. There are a few trees, but there is a great line of sight from you to the elk. You load an arrow and draw back the bow, doing this as carefully as possible so as not to make a sound.

You let the arrow fly and hear a big crack, as the elk runs through the woods the opposite way. You pull out the arrow from the oak tree and hang your head as you walk back into the village. Even though you did not kill an elk, you still feel proud and are very grateful for the food Mother Earth provides you, for she gives you what you need to survive and prosper. Native Americans, like the young boy, respect nature, have a strong sense of spirituality, and also value their tribal relationships, which is expressed through oral literature.

        To begin with, in American Indian literature, storytellers always refer to their respect for nature. The poem "I Have Killed the Deer", speaks of the never-ending circle of life. This never-ending circle...