The Importance of Myth and Oral Traditions, Again.

The Importance of Myth and Oral TraditionsSomeone left a comment on my last post, about how somehow Native American Oral traditions are “double reverse racism”.

Then there’s the double reverse racism of self-proclaimed experts who say “Archaeologists MUST listen to the Native American oral tradition”, the implication being that “the oral tradition” is perfect, accurate, and unchanging and further that “the oral tradition” of Native Americans currently living in Place X is relevant; to the archaeology being done. An easy counterexample it that the Cherokee oral tradition is not relevant to the Plains Indians. Other groups of Native Americans have moved around throughout history and the people who live in Place Y might have supplanted earlier inhabitants, who in turn supplanted even earlier inhabitants.

First, srly?

Second, The least archaeologists can do is listen to Native American oral traditions.

There is no “implication” that any oral tradition is perfect. Oral traditions are important not because of their perceived perfection, but because they are the history of a people.

As far as the second half of this, the relocation of the Cherokee is not a counterexample. The location of the various Cherokee tribes neither invalidates their oral traditions nor replaces the oral traditions of others. It actually makes these oral histories important because they are out of place.

I can tell from this example that the value of oral traditions in archaeology is not understood. Which really only compounds with the problems created when the Fringe uses Native American Myth to support their ideas and biases.

I want to send people to one of our older podcast episodes where Ken and I talk about these topics. The Importance of Myth and Oral Traditions – Episode 30. 

Clearly, we need to revisit this topic again, and again, and again.


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7 thoughts on “ The Importance of Myth and Oral Traditions, Again.

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  1. Yes we must take myth & oral tradition seriously otherwise we wouldn’t know how thousands of gods created the Earth thousands of times in thousands of ways. And Slenderman is just as valid as the Trojan war even though one oral tradition is less than twenty years old while the other is almost three thousand years old.

    You might think I’m sarcastic but that’s mere cultural bias.

  2. NO NO my friend! According to me, it’s not the Native American oral tradition that’s racist, it’s the self-proclaimed experts. E.P. Grondine and Scott Wolter come to mind but I would also toss Dhyani Ywahoo and Ward Churchill into the mix. I stand by my comment. Perhaps it’s my fault that you did not understand:

    “Then there’s the double reverse racism of self-proclaimed experts”
    NOT
    “the double reverse racism of the Native American oral tradition”

  3. “The relocation of the Cherokee is not a counterexample.”

    Nor did I say it was. What I wrote, and what it seems you didn’t comprehend, was:

    “An easy counterexample it that the Cherokee oral tradition is not relevant to the Plains Indians. Other groups of Native Americans have moved around throughout history and the people who live in Place Y might have supplanted earlier inhabitants, who in turn supplanted even earlier inhabitants.”

    1. I mean, You can do your double-speak dance all you want. It doesn’t change your non-sequitur examples or your attempt to build a strawman argument. But you know, have fun there.

  4. No doublespeak, simply repeating in plain English and pointing out where you misunderstood. I can do no more.

  5. Usually people who try and use certain Native American oral tradition only pick and choose what they want out of it for some to use it racistly against them. They also warp it by twisting and adding bits of their own. The Non-Natives use it, and cry racism against Native Americans like they really care, while using it to prove White Europeans have an ancient presence in the Americas. Like I said, they pick what they want out of specific NA oral traditions, and try to attribute to the whole indigenous populations of the Americas. When Native Americans say their creation happened in the Americas in a specific homeland or that they were the only ones here they scoff and call them Anti-Scientific and point out the Bering Land Bridge! The people who steal Native American oral history and cry racism against NAs, and complain that no one believes there pseudo-archaeological fantasies are pure hypocrites! They only use it to support their own biased agendas and their own racism against Native Americans, and their accomplishments in their homelands!

  6. You may want to read this post over on Carl Feagan’s blog about a student (Yvette Collin) who proved that Horses never went extinct in the Americas.

    To quote the introduction of Feagan’s post on this thesis:

    “In her dissertation, Collin’s stated purpose is to “deconstruct the history of the horse in the Americas and its relationship with the Indigenous Peoples.” She seems to begin with a conclusion—that there is a “Western science” seeking to “disregard, purposefully exclude, and reconfigure” the traditional knowledge of Native Americans. Ultimately, she’d like to “reconstruct the history of the horse in the Americas in a way that is unbiased and accurate.”

    Toward this endeavor, she fails.”

    https://ahotcupofjoe.net/2019/07/pseudoarchaeological-claims-of-horses-in-the-americas/

    As he notes in addition to citing Native Oral History, the student also cited Ancient Origins writers in support of her claims…

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