Story Making is Survival: A Theme to Explore

An idea from Mark Lindquist and Martin Zanger’s work, Buried Roots and Indestructible Seeds: the Survival of American Indian Life in Story, History, and Spirit, stood out to me this week: “…the very act of making a story, in its creation of meaning, is an act of survival. Thus both the interpretations of experience and the creative stories of this volume not only trace the endurance of tribal people, but also contribute to their continuance” (5).

This quote refers to the idea that stories in Native American tribes have greater significance beyond their entertainment and moral lessons. Lindquist and Zanger suggest that through the act of creating and sharing stories Native Americans are able to preserve their culture, ensuring survival. These tales share indigenous history as well as cultural, social, and moral beliefs historically and in modern terms. The stories that adapt and include modern events, sayings, and objects reflects the evolution of Native peoples. This adaptation is important as it shows Native cultures are not stagnate; they hold on to important cultural foundations in order to progress into the future.

I am intrigued by the idea of letting this quote guide my research, at least to an extent. After I research much of the secondary resources on Native Americans around Scott’s Bluff post white settlement, I am interested to see how these people survived or adapted culturally. Are there local stories that reflect the changes Indians faced with the permanent settlement of whites to the region? Perhaps, are there hybrids of Native tales and white stories? How Native tales changed over the past 150 years as whites and Natives continue to interact? Or have the tales vanished as most Indians were displaced to the various reservations in Nebraska?

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