A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

A Listening Wind: Native Literature from the Southeast

Synopsis

A Listening Wind, a collection of translated original texts and commentary edited by Marcia Haag, highlights the large array of Indigenous linguistic and cultural groups of the U.S. Southeast. A whole range of genres and selected texts represent language groups of the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Yuchi, Cherokee, Koasati, Houma, Catawba, and Atakapa.

The traditional and modern Native literature genres showcased in A Listening Wind include stories that speakers perceive to be in the past (or "fixed"), genres that have developed alongside these stories, and modern story types that have sometimes supplanted traditional tales and are now enjoying trajectories of their own. These texts have been selected to demonstrate particular literary themes and the cultural perspectives that inform them. Introductory essays illuminate how they fit into Native American religious and philosophical systems. Overall this collection discloses the sometimes hidden connections among genres as well as their importance to language groups of the Southeast.

Excerpt

Marcia Haag

This volume is one in the series of books devoted to Native literatures, inaugurated and edited by Brian Swann. the material here is from the Native peoples of the southeastern portion of the United States. the Southeast groups consist of both related peoples (for example, the large group of Muskogeans) and those whose closest relatives either disappeared or were absorbed by other groups. Hence we find disparate language groups, but at the same time peoples who often share many elements of a common culture, through the spreading of practices such as the cultivation of corn and the ease of trade via the large riverine highways of the Southeast. I cannot define “Southeast” in a way that definitively includes some groups and excludes others. Instead I use my best evaluation of that term, based largely on the cultural groups who were present in the area known as the “Old South” from about 1600 forward and who had not been absorbed or scattered by the time text collection began.

In apprehending the literary traditions of the Southeast peoples, we need to take account of the long shared history of these peoples with European and later American whites, beginning before whites represented as profound a threat as they would prove to be. Europeans introduced cows, chickens, horses, guns, fabrics—things that would become readily incorporated into southeastern native lifestyles, even while the tension over land and European proxy wars made the Natives’ control over their own peoples and destinies ever more tenuous.

Some of the tribes were driven to annihilation or absorption within . . .

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