Native American Exploration Narrative

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Zielinski 1 Nate Zielinski Mr. Manwell Honors English II / Period 7 27 October 2015 AMDG Understanding Native American Myth and European Exploration Narrative Narratives exist for many purposes, but they all intend to give a glimpse into the lives of their respective authors. Native American myth and European exploration narratives seek to accomplish the same goals; they explain the worldview of two distinct cultures, and they also frame a larger conflict between the Europeans and Native Americans. Understanding the deeper meanings behind these seemingly petty or exaggerated anecdotes can help frame the life of the author and his or her society. By analyzing the diction and way in which they tell the story, deep-rooted beliefs and biases…show more content…
Native Americans believe a hero is one who commits great feats and is a benefit to his or her society, while the Europeans believe a hero is constituted by the materials he owns and the people or places he conquers. For example, Man-Eagle tells Son of Light, who is a cultural hero on a quest to save his wife, “You’re speaking big words, but first you’ll have a contest with me” (Pyramid 39). This shows Native Americans value bravery and selflessness, and only those who help others can succeed in their society. The European perspective of a hero differs greatly from this, and it is yet another cause of conflict between the two societies. Cabeza de Vaca considers himself a hero because he sees the Europeans as the liberators and saviors of the Native Americans, when really they are in America to manipulate and steal from them. He kidnaps Natives to serve as liaisons and doesn’t release them until they are asked for by their tribe. De Vaca also thinks he is personally chosen by God. and thus is granted special abilities and privileges. When a Native man dies, de Vaca “Prayed to Our Lord to restore his health” and the man supposedly rises from the dead (Cabeza de Vaca 65). Even though this is physically impossible, de Vaca is convinced his expedition is willed by God, and he is a hero only in his own mind. Ultimately, the Native Americans aren’t as concerned being called a hero, while expedition leaders have a habit of bestowing the title of hero
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