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Chapter 8

Native American Creation Stories from the Southwestern United States

In this chapter, look for a new kind of mythological story, the working version. These myths from Native Americans  were collected by ethnographers from oral traditions, not from literary texts like those in the Graeco-Roman and Norse traditions. They reflect an ongoing tradition of rituals practiced by a community and thus can be connected with the discussion of ritual in Part 4.

You might compare the stories in this chapter with creation myths in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, in which deities create the universe and then humans are placed in the world and given dominion over nature. Native American stories, like the stories in Genesis, place humans at the center: they actually help create their physical world. In reading these stories, you may want to consider your own cultural values and expectations and how they affect your response.

The cultural elements in this chapter will also be found in Chapter 23, on Raven, a Native American trickster, and in Chapter 45, which includes a story from Leslie Silko that gives a contemporary perspective on Native American mythology.

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