First Nation Legends

Before the printing press dominated the world of formal communication, families, communities, and cultures all over the world relied solely on the oral tradition to pass along revered knowledge.

Much valued cultural content, particularly spiritual or historical beliefs and practices, was transmitted through legends or stories shared between generations. This responsibility rested with formally acknowledged storytellers, as well as elders.

First Nations people did not have a writing system based on an alphabet, but they had a strong oral tradition. That means that knowledge of events or matters of historic importance was preserved by passing information from person to person, and generation to generation.

There were usually specific people in the tribe or band who knew their whole history, and related these events to others at special gatherings. Tales of important events were told and retold around the campfire, as stories are told everywhere.

First Nations also had various ways of recording events, to trigger the memory of those relating the events. For example, wampum belts had pictures woven into them to tell a story. Drawings on bark or hide preserved the record of events.

In recent years, many First Nations people have been collecting these old stories from elders, and preserving them on tape, and writing them down.

Like every human culture in the world, Canada's First Peoples have stories to explain the origins of the earth and its animals and people.

First Peoples' creation stories often contain references to specific landmarks, such as mountains or lakes, that give us good information about the areas that a group of people lived in, and the routes they followed as they migrated over the centuries to the areas they now live in.

Canada's First Peoples also have many other wonderful stories and legends about real or imaginary characters and settings, just as every group of people on earth do.

These stories were not written down, but were passed on through their oral tradition. Stories were told over and over, and everyone learned them. Children grew up, and passed the stories onto their children.

Stories among First Nations peoples serve the same purpose as stories do for other cultures all over the world.

They entertain, they teach listeners how to deal with the world around them, they teach people about good and evil, about bravery and cowardice; they make listeners think about the consequences of their behavior; they scare children with spooky stories so they do not wander away from home, and so on.

This collection of North American Aboriginal cultural stories represents only a small component of the vast store of oral literatures, and underscores the magnitude of its scope across various Native American and Canadian Indian tribes.



Article Index:

Catawba Little People picked on children

CATAWBA INDIAN RESERVATION, S.C. – A self-guided walk on the Yehasuri trail here may stimulate a hiker’s imagination of Catawba Indian history.

The trail is an old reservation wagon road which has been preserved for a culture and nature walk from the cultural center to the Catawba River, a distance of one and a half miles. It has been named, ”The Yehasuri Trail,” for tribal accounts of the Little People. Yehasuri is the Catawba word for ”not human ones.”

Jump Into The Lake – A contemporary cado story

I grew up in the middle of the mountains on a lake and my dad told me that if you talk to the lake it will talk back to you.

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