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After reading the Greek/Mesopotamian/Middle Eastern creation myths, the Native American myths present a stark contrast, differing from the former texts on so many different levels (refreshingly so, IMHO).

The Native Americans have always seemed to me much more connected to, and generally have more respect for, their physical environment. This stands in contradistinction with the Judeo-Christian view that humans (or more specifically, man) must dominate over the earth and all its creatures. Knowing now our evolutionary history (as opposed to the creationist story), these myths as told by Native Americans appear to have grasped the essence of humanity and our place within the greater sphere. We may think we are the masters, but by throwing off the balance that is so critical to our survival, we are creating our own doom.

This also leads to gender roles and the place of women in many Native communities. Women have their role, neither inferior nor superior to anything or anyone else. As is seen in the Dine Bahane’, both men and women were responsible for their adulterous behaviour.  This, too, stands in contrast to the creation myths of the Middle East and Greece, where women are the “other”, and must be subjected to the control of men.

While Native societies (as far as we know) did not have matriarchies,  women and men had distinct, yet equal (or near equal) status.  This holds true for many cultures in Africa as well (I thank my ANTR 1007 class for giving me more insight on African and Native American cultures!).   Again, the name of the game is balance, and here I think the Native American myths have a grain of relevance and truth, as it pertains to our relationship with nature (and each other) and our place within the natural scheme of life.

C.

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2 thoughts on “Native American Myths, Nature and Gender Equility

  1. I agree with the statements that are made. This includes the greater role of nature and a more gender equality within these myths. Unlike most of the myths that we have looked at in class, it is refreshing to see a different side to myths other than the typical relationship between man and god. Along with these differences I think it is important to note that the Native American myths are collected orally and then written down rather than passed down in literary form like Greek or Roman myths.

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