Native American Chants and Songs
Questions for Discussion and Writing
The Chippewa, or Ojibway, peoples have lived for many generations in the woodland and lake country of the northern Midwest; the Navajo came to the Southwest in the late fifteenth century, after a long trek from the Athabasca region of northwestern Canada; when the Sioux acquired the horse from the European explorers and colonists, their culture centered on migration and buffalo hunting in the Great Plains. In histories and anthologies, these nations and their literature are commonly all classified as “Native American” – and there are obvious conveniences and drawbacks to that conventional grouping. As you explore, look for differences in these cultures, and keep an eye out for ways in which these differences might echo in the excerpts gathered in NAAL.
1. Many Native American nations maintain official and unofficial web sites. Locate five or six of these, including sites maintained by people in the nations included in this cluster. How do these sites portray or describe commonalities and differences among these peoples?
2. Think about the challenges of translation – from one language into another; from oral chant to the printed page; from one century into another. What can we reasonably hope for as makers of translations, and as readers of them? What possibilities do you see that changes in media will enhance our ability to understand across expanses of time and linguistic and cultural boundaries?