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history of native american literature

Native Americans and American History Francis Flavin, Ph.D. University of Texas at Dallas Native Americans and their history have interested Indians and non-Indians alike—from colonial times through the end of the twentieth century. And, judging by the outpouring of public andAuthor: Francis Flavin. American Indian Language - As one of the most unique populations in our nation, American Indians have a number of unique characteristics that are shared across the populace, including religion, culture, and history. American Indian Literature - American Indian Literature research papers examine the rich culture found in Native American literature. After the War of , there was an increasing desire to produce a uniquely American literature and culture, and a number of literary figures emerged, among them Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, and James Fenimore wrote humorous works in Salmagundi and the satire A History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker (). Bryant wrote early romantic and nature-inspired.

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The traditions of indigenous Mesoamerican literature extend back to the oldest-attested forms of early writing in the Mesoamerican region, which date from around the mid- 1st millennium BCE. Many of the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica are known to have been literate societies, who produced a number of Mesoamerican writing systems of varying degrees history of native american literature complexity and completeness.

Mesoamerican writing systems arose independently from other writing systems in the world, and their development represents one of the very few such origins in the history of writing. The conquistadors brought their distinctive cultural baggage, in the form of books, from Spain to the New World. The literature and texts history of native american literature by indigenous Mesoamericans are the earliest-known from the Americas for primarily two reasons: Firstly the fact that the native populations of Mesoamerica were the first to enter into intensive contact with Europeans, assuring that many samples of Mesoamerican literature have been documented in surviving and intelligible forms.

Secondly, the long history of native american literature of Mesoamerican writing which undoubtedly contributed to the native Mesoamericans readily embracing the Latin alphabet history of native american literature the Spaniards and creating many literary works written in it during the first centuries after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

This article summarizes current knowledge about indigenous Mesoamerican literatures in its broadest sense and describe it categorized by its literary contents and social functions. When defining literature in its broadest possible sense including all products of "literacy", what becomes primarily interesting about a literate community is the manner in which literacy and literature is used.

Which topics are chosen to be written and spoken about? And why did they do it? Which genres of literature are found in Mesoamerica? The answer to this question is complex and is the topic of the rest of this article that will try to describe and resume what is known about the genres and functions of indigenous Mesoamerican literatures.

Geoffrey Sampson distinguishes between two kinds of writing, history of native american literature. One kind of writing he calls 'semasiographical', this covers kinds of pictorial or ideographic writing that is not necessarily connected to phonetic language but can be read in different languages, this kind of writing is for example used in roadsigns which can be read in any language.

The other kind of writing is phonetic writing called by Sampson 'glottographic' writing and which represents the sounds and words of languages and allows accurate linguistic readings of a text that is the same at every reading, history of native american literature.

This makes it difficult for modern day scholars to distinguish between whether an inscription in a Mesoamerican script represents spoken language or is to be interpreted as a descriptive drawing.

The only Mesoamerican people known without doubt to have developed a completely glottographic or phonetic script is the Maya, and even the Mayan script is largely pictorial and often shows fuzzy boundaries between images and text.

Scholars disagree on the phoneticity of other Mesoamerican scripts and iconographic styles, but many show use of the Rebus principle and a highly conventionalised set of symbols. The monumental inscriptions were often historical records of the citystates: Famous examples include:. The function of these kinds of historical inscriptions also served to consoliate the power of the rulers who used them also as a kind of propaganda testimonies to their power. Most commonly monumental hieroglyphocal texts describe:, history of native american literature.

The epigrapher David Stuart writes about the differences in content between the monumental hieroglyphical texts of Yaxchilan and those of Copan:. Most codices date from the colonial era, with only a few surviving from the prehispanic era, history of native american literature.

A number of Precolumbian codices written on amate paper with gesso coating remain today. Some common household objects of ceramics or bone and adornments of jade have been found with inscriptions. For example, drinking vessels with the inscription saying "The Cacao drinking cup of X" or similar. The largest part of the Mesoamerican literature today known has been fixed in writing after the Spanish conquest, history of native american literature.

Both Europeans and Mayans began writing down local oral tradition using the Latin alphabet to write in indigenous languages shortly after the conquest. Many of those Europeans were friars and priests who in trying to convert the natives to Christianity.

They translated Catholic catechisms and confessional manuals and acquired a good grasp of the indigenous languages and often even composed grammars and dictionaries of the indigenous languages. These early grammars of native languages systematized the reading and writing of indigenous languages in their own time and help us understand them today. The most widely known early grammars and dictionaries are of the Aztec language, Nahuatl.

But also Mayan and other Mesoamerican languages have early grammars and dictionaries, some of very high quality, history of native american literature.

The introduction of the Latin alphabet and the elaboration of conventions for writing indigenous languages allowed for the subsequent creation of a wide range of texts. And indigenous writers took advantage of the new techniques to document their own history and tradition in the new writing, while monks kept on extending literacy in the indigenous population.

This tradition lasted only a few centuries however and due to royal decrees about Spanish being the only language of the Spanish empire by the mids most indigenous languages were left without a living tradition for writing. Oral literature, however, kept being transmitted to this day in many indigenous languages and began to be collected by ethnologists in the beginnings of the 20th century, however without promoting native language literacy in the communities in which they worked, history of native american literature.

It is an important and extremely difficult job in the Mesoamerica of today, and what that is only beginning to be undertaken, to return native language literacy to the indigenous peoples.

But during the first post-conquest centuries a large number of texts in indigenous Mesoamerican languages were generated. Many of the post-conquest texts are historical accounts, either in the form of annals recounting year by year the events of a people or city-state often based on pictorial documents or oral accounts of aged community members.

But also sometimes personalized literary accounts of the life of a people or state and almost always incorporating both mythical material and actual history. There was no formal distinction between the two in Mesoamerica. Sometimes as in history of native american literature case of the Mayan Chilam Balam books historical accounts also incorporated prophetical material, a kind of history in advance.

History of native american literature post-conquest situation of the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica also required them to learn to navigate in a complex new administrative system. In order to obtain any kinds of favorable positions pleas and petitions had to be made to the new authorities and land possessions and heritages had to be proven.

This resulted in a large corpus of administrative literature in indigenous languages, because documents were often written in the native language first and later translated into Spanish. In the late sixteenth-century the Spanish crown sought systematic information about indigenous settlements now part of the Spanish Empire.

A questionnaire was drawn up and local Spanish officials gathered information from history of native american literature indigenous towns under their administration, using local elites as their informants. Some reports were a few pages, such as that from Culhuacanwhile some major indigenous polities, such as Tlaxcala, took the opportunity to give a detailed description of their prehispanic history and participation in the Spanish conquest of central Mexico.

Most geographical accounts include a native map of the settlement. The most extensively researched Mesoamerican indigenous literature is the literature containing mythological and legendary narratives.

The styles of these books is often very poetic and appealing to modern aesthetic senses both because of the poetic language and its "mystical", exotic contents. It is also of interest to establish intertextuality between cultures. While many do include actual historic events the mythological texts can often be distinguished by focusing on claiming a mythical source to power by tracing the lineage of a people to some ancient source of power. Some famous collections of Aztec poetry have been conserved.

Although written in the late 16th century they are believed to be fairly representative of the actual style of poetry used in precolumbian times.

Many of the poems are attributed to named Aztec rulers such as Nezahualcoyotl. Because the poems were transcribed at a later date, scholars dispute whether these are the actual authors. Many of the mythical and historical texts also have poetic qualities. Not all specimens of native literature can be readily classified. A prime example of this are the Yucatec Mayan Books of Chilam Balammentioned above for their historical content, but also containing treatises on medical lore, astrology, etc.

Although clearly belonging to Maya literature, they are profoundly syncretic in nature. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Native American literature. BCE times. Main article: New Philology. University of Texas Press Stanford University Press, history of native american literature.

Anderson, Susan Schroeder, Wayne Ruwet. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press Stanford University Press Vidas y bienes olvidados: Testamentos indigenas novohispanos. University of New Mexico Press University of Utah Press. Hanover Sarah Cline,ed. Williams, Harvey, H. Hans J. Graz: Druck und Verlagsanstalt Austin: University of Texas Press Chicago: University of Chicago Press Categories : Mesoamerican art Mesoamerican literature Illuminated manuscripts.

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history of native american literature


Native American Literature--selected bibliography, compiled by K.L. MacKay. A Brief History of Native American Written Literature. The first native American literary texts were offered orally, and they link the earth-surface people with the plants and animals, the rivers and rocks, and all things believed significant in the life of America’s first people. Native American literature, the traditional oral and written literatures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. These include ancient hieroglyphic and pictographic writings of Middle America as well as an extensive set of folktales, myths, and oral histories that were transmitted for centuries. American Indian Language - As one of the most unique populations in our nation, American Indians have a number of unique characteristics that are shared across the populace, including religion, culture, and history. American Indian Literature - American Indian Literature research papers examine the rich culture found in Native American literature.