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Literature & Language
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American Indian Studies: Oral Traditions (Term Paper Sample)


Format requirements: Midterm papers must be five (5) pages, double-spaced, typed, with one-inch margins, in Times New Roman, 12-point font, cited properly, page numbered, spell/grammar checker, and include a formatted bibliography. Images, statistics, or additional materials do not count in the paper length, so make sure to take this into consideration when preparing your paper.
This paper will engage the theory “oral traditions as support for American Indian personal sovereignty” and three readings from the book "Spider Womans Granddaughters" to explore the use of literature by American Indian and Indigenous women. This paper will conclude with a response to “So What?” to answer the question of what is important about your topic for a broader audience?


Student Name
American Indian Studies
An oral tradition is a form of communication that preserves and transmits people's cultural materials which include arts and ideas through word of mouth. It has enabled the passing along of important oral history and oral literature from one generation to another using vocal utterance that includes folktales, ballads, verses etc. as opposed to using a writing system. Oral tradition was dominant in ancient Greece as evidenced by the lack of any “surviving” written materials today depicting their religious traditions. The Indians have also significantly used this form of communication in their Indian religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism to successfully share various aspects about them such as hymns, mythologies and canonical scriptures through their generations. The term paper purports to examine the theory that oral tradition has been important in supporting American Indian personal sovereignty and to analyze various articles written on the use of literature by American Indians and indigenous women.
The Spider Woman's Granddaughters is a collection of biographical writings by American Indian women writers that highlight the plight of the Indian people being held hostages in their own land. The stories detail contemporary issues in the ancient Indian setting and style and revolve around the Indian slogan “We shall endure” showcasing the experiences and destruction of their national and personal identities (Narayan n.p). The book is composed of three parts, The Warriors, The Casualties and The Resistance. The editor Paula Allen brings forth to the reader's aspects of oral and written literature that is diverse in subject and voice. She focuses on this as a major theme in discussing oral and literary traditions that differentiate Native American storytelling from the individualism in Euro American writing. “The Warriors” highlights stories about the bravery of women in battle including their resourcefulness and their heroism even in defeat. “The Casualties” depict the struggles of families going through the painful aspect of cultural genocide and their togetherness in holding on in the face of devastation. “The Resistance” shows the efforts of the Indians to reject the erosion of their cultures by incorporating oral traditions that would guard against cultural and physical holocaust and help transmit their ancient beliefs through the generations. These stories by the Native American women speak of sacred traditions about tribal identity and the struggles of the Indian people through five centuries of war, captivity and separation and that was also characterized by loss of lives and tradition.
At the beginning of the book, Paula Allen provides information relating to Native American history and civilization. She states in the book to show the significance of the relationship between a mother and grandmother in the Native American culture “My grandmother told my mother: Never forget you are Indian. And my mother told me the same thing. This then I have gone about remembering so that my children will remember too” (Allen 5). The indigenous women in the book are shown as creators and preservers of culture. These female gods are feared and honored in the short stories of “The Warrior” and are respected for being protectors of culture. Allen identifies and highlights the importance of feminism in her narrations from the tribal perspective and the status of the “Amerindian” women. She borrows the beliefs and cultures of her people the Laguna Pueblo where women were held in high regard. The women owned the houses and most of the gods they worshipped were women. Throughout the book, Allen tries to deli...

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