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Oral Traditions Across Cultures

            "Once upon a time- or "long, long ago,"" these are the introductions to the oral narratives that European and Native American children hear throughout their childhood and early adolescence. A human being's life is so short that no single person can learn for themselves everything there is to know about life. Thus, our ancestors began the great oral tradition of passing down their stories and experiences from one generation to another so that the next generation could learn and benefit from them. Although the European and Native American oral traditions of storytelling have completely different origins and have developed independently from one another, they do contain similarities in their style and presentation, as well as in their lessons and morals they teach. The great oral tradition is a collection of brilliant oral stories and myths, each of which have the purpose of either passing down cultural practices or teaching specific morals and lessons to the listener. The stories and myths include mystical creatures, speaking animals, heroes or heroines, all of which seem to be designed to entertain the listener while making some point. Moreover, many of the same themes and morals transcend both European and Native American oral traditions. Some prevalent themes in both cultures are cautionary tales, trickster tales and encouragement tales about heroes.
             For the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico the oral tradition of storytelling is an intricate part of their culture. Storytelling is the medium which the Pueblo Indians use to educate their children about the land and animals and communicate with their ancestors. The Pueblo Indian children begin this great oral tradition by hearing about their creation. The oral story that describes their creation sets the "Emergence Place-, or place from which their ancestors entered the Earth, as being located only eight miles from their village.

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