Myths Of Early American History

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Myths of Early American History


American history begins with the trends of orally conveyed myths, legends, tales, and lyrics of Indian cultures. There was no written literature among the more than 500 different Indian languages and tribal cultures that existed in North America before the first Europeans arrived. As a result, Native American oral literature is quite assorted.

Examples of nearly every oral genre can be found in American Indian literature: lyrics, hymns, myths, fairy tales, humorous anecdotes, incantations, riddles, proverbs, epics, and legendary histories. Accounts of migrations and ancestors are in abundance, as fantasy songs and tricksters' tales. Creative stories are particularly eminent with every tribe's variations. The very first European record of exploration in American literature is in a Scandinavian language; not in English, Spanish or French.

Myths of Early American History

The myths have connections with all aspects of human life and experience: they refer to the origins and the nature of the universe, the gods and mankind; they claim to reveal historical facts or may describe psychological truths; they make emotional valuations and concern themselves with moral, physical or ontological issues; they may convey beliefs, superstitions, rituals, literary images, social ideas, and they may use symbols and allegories as well as reason, philosophy and ethical values.

The capacity to tell an all-embracing true tale is believed to be the privilege of the gods and not of men, for human beings have having an inborn difficulty in distinguishing between true and false since they "have only hearsay and not knowledge (Boller pp.56-70).

The myths have therefore been considered to be divine tales told by gods to men, who in turn transmitted them to their fellow human beings. Story-telling achieves its greatest significance when it narrates the myths, since nothing else can be more memorable than an all-embracing tale, and for being memorable the myths are transmitted to mortal men by the Muses, who are the daughters of Memory and who, possessing real knowledge, may or may not tell the truth at will.

Most of the American myths draw their origin from the Indian cultures that inhabited the land for centuries. Before the arrival of European immigrants in America, there were no concept of written literature and the legends, myths, songs and tales were orally transmitted from one generation to the next. At that time there were almost 500 different Indian cultures existed in America (Hirsch pp.89-110). These cultures consisted of nomadic as well as settled tribes and their legends and myths were different from each other.

The European migration of the 17th century brought a culture altogether different from the native. The oral traditions were replaced by written texts. The life style of the colonists was completely different from the aboriginals and so were their myths and legends. The intellectual English Puritans had their own exclusive teachings and traditions. They believed in religion and spirituality. Settled in New England, these puritans preached the religion of Christ with missionary zeal. They viewed everything around from a spiritual point of view. There myths about God, ...
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