George Sword's Warrior Narratives: Compositional Processes in Lakota Oral Tradition

George Sword's Warrior Narratives: Compositional Processes in Lakota Oral Tradition

George Sword's Warrior Narratives: Compositional Processes in Lakota Oral Tradition

George Sword's Warrior Narratives: Compositional Processes in Lakota Oral Tradition

Synopsis

The general focus in Lakota oral literary research has been in the study of content rather than process in oral traditions. In a new disclosure of the characteristics of Lakota oral style, Delphine Red Shirt shows how its composition and structure are reflected in the work of George Sword, who composed 245 pages of text in the Lakota language using the English alphabet. What emerges in Sword's Lakota narratives is the formulaic patterns inherent in the Lakota language that are used to tell the narratives, as well as recurring themes and story patterns. Red Shirt's primary conclusion is that this cadence originates from a distinctly Lakota oral tradition.

Red Shirt analyzes historic documents and original texts in Lakota to answer the question: How is Lakota literature defined? Her groundbreaking discernment of the process of composition of Native literature uncovers the epistemological basis of this literature, which provides the object for literary studies, anthropological linguistics, translation studies, and linguistics. Her analysis of Sword's texts can be used to determine whether the origin of any given narrative in Lakota tradition is oral and opens avenues for further research.

Excerpt

This research is the result of a long-standing interest in the work of one individual, George Sword, who composed 245 pages of text in the Lakota language using the English alphabet in the period 1896 through 1910. in the past scholars have studied Lakota narratives and songs, and with each study new insights have been gained. However, the focus generally in oral literary research has been on the study of content and not process in Lakota oral traditions. in order to better understand the characteristics of Lakota oral style this study shows how it is composed and structured in the work of George Sword. the research focus is from a qualitative perspective concerned with exploring, describing, and explaining a culturally specific Lakota oral narrative, a perspective more commonly found in history and ethnographic disciplines, where it is a special type of case study research. the primary method used is an analysis of historic documents and original text in Lakota to address the issues raised in the general research problem: how do you define Lakota literature? in the end this study shows the way in which Lakota oral narrative is composed and how its practice has produced a distinct form. During the course of this study, what became apparent in George Sword’s Lakota narratives were the formulaused to tell the narratives as well as the recurring themes and story patterns. the primary conclusion is that these patterns originate from a Lakota oral tradition. This method of analysis can be used to determine whether any given written narrative derives from Lakota oral tradition or not, and it leads the way for further research.

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