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Handout 1

Oral tales – the power of the spoken word, natural environment and the transformation and sustainment of
life, the trickster;
1. How Coyote Stole Fire
“Long ago, when man was newly come into the world, there were days when he was the happiest creature of all.
Those were the days when spring brushed across the willow tails, or when his children ripened with the blueberries
in the sun of summer, or when the goldenrod bloomed in the autumn haze.
But always the mists of autumn evenings grew more chill, and the sun's strokes grew shorter. Then man saw winter
moving near, and he became fearful and unhappy. He was afraid for his children, and for the grandfathers and
grandmothers who carried in their heads the sacred tales of the tribe. Many of these, young and old, would die in
the long, ice-bitter months of winter…”
“He [Coyote] also felt that there was something he could do to help them. He knew of a faraway mountain-top
where the three Fire Beings lived. These Beings kept fire to themselves, guarding it carefully for fear that man
might somehow acquire it and become as strong as they. Coyote saw that he could do a good turn for man at the
expense of these selfish Fire Beings.
So Coyote went to the mountain of the Fire Beings and crept to its top, to watch the way that the Beings guarded
their fire. As he came near, the Beings leaped to their feet and gazed searchingly round their camp. Their eyes
glinted like bloodstones, and their hands were clawed like the talons of the great black vulture….”
“Coyote saw that the Beings were always jealously watchful of their fire except during one part of the day. That
was in the earliest morning, when the first winds of dawn arose on the mountains. Then the Being by the fire
would hurry, shivering, into the teepee calling, "Sister, sister, go out and watch the fire." But the next Being
would always be slow to go out for her turn, her head spinning with sleep and the thin dreams of dawn.”
“Screaming, the Fire Beings flew after him. Swift as Coyote ran, they caught up with him, and one of them
reached out a clutching hand. Her fingers touched only the tip of the tail, but the touch was enough to turn the
hairs white, and coyote tail-tips are white still. Coyote shouted, and flung the fire away from him. But the others
of the People had gathered at the mountain's foot, in case they were needed. Squirrel saw the fire falling, and
caught it, putting it on her back and fleeing away through the tree-tops. The fire scorched her back so painfully
that her tail curled up and back, as squirrels' tails still do today.
The Fire Beings then pursued Squirrel, who threw the fire to Chipmunk. Chattering with fear, Chipmunk stood
still as if rooted until the Beings were almost upon her. Then, as she turned to run, one Being clawed at her,
tearing down the length of her back and leaving three stripes that are to be seen on chipmunks' backs even today.
Chipmunk threw the fire to Frog, and the Beings turned towards him. One of the Beings grasped his tail, but Frog
gave a mighty leap and tore himself free, leaving his tail behind in the Being's hand---which is why frogs have
had no tails ever since.
As the Beings came after him again, Frog flung the fire on to Wood. And Wood swallowed it.”
2. The Bungling Host
Bear and Rabbit were traveling about together. They had become friends. Bear said to Rabbit, "Come and visit
me. That red house way off yonder is my home." He went off. At the appointed time Rabbit set out and came to
where Bear lived. Bear's home was a hollow tree. At the bottom of the tree was a hole. There was where he lived.
When Rabbit came Bear said, "Sit down." So Rabbit sat down and both talked for a while.
Bear went around back of his house while Rabbit sat watching him. He went out of sight. When he came back to
where Rabbit was sitting he had a lot of good lard. He put the lard into some beans which were cooking and when
the beans were done he set them out for Rabbit, who ate all he could.

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Now when Rabbit was preparing to go home he said, "Come and visit me, too. I live way over yonder where you
see that white house. That is my home." Bear said, "All right." By a white house Rabbit meant white grass.
On the appointed day Bear started to visit Rabbit and reached his place. His house was made of dry grass. When
Bear got there Rabbit said, "Sit down." So Bear sat down and they talked. Then Rabbit stood up and went round
back of his house. Bear saw him and thought "He may hurt himself." While Bear was sitting there he heard Rabbit
cry out "dowik." He started out and when he reached Rabbit found he had cut his belly and sat with a little blue
[fat], hanging out of it. "Oh, I alone can do that. You have hurt yourself," he said. He took Rabbit and laid him
down in his house.
Then Bear went out to look for a doctor. Finding Buzzard, he said to him, "My friend, Rabbit has hurt himself
badly. I am looking for a man able to treat him." "I make medicine," said Buzzard. So Bear led him back to the
place where Rabbit was lying. When Buzzard saw him he said, "Make some hominy and place it near by and I
will treat him." The hominy was prepared. "Now shut up the house and make a hole in the roof and I can treat
him," he said. So the house was shut up and a hole was made in the roof. Then Buzzard sat in the room where
Rabbit lay eating hominy. Presently Rabbit said "dowik." "What are you doing to him?" they called out. "He is
afraid of the medicine," said Buzzard. As he sat there with Rabbit he struck at him, killed him, and ate him. He ate
him all up and flew out through the roof. Then he said to the people, "He is lying there waiting for you," and he
went away. Bear entered the house and found only Rabbit's bones lying there.
When Bear saw this he was very angry. Just then an orphan with a bow who was traveling around came to the
place and Bear said to him, "We asked Buzzard to doctor Rabbit but he devoured him and has flown away. Shoot
at him and see if you can hit him." The orphan shot at him and brought him down. Bear beat him and killed him,
and hung him up. He lighted a fire under him and smoked him, and Buzzard hung there many days. He came to
look yellowish, it is said. Therefore, because the little boy shot him and they hung him in the smoke, he is yellow.
This is how they tell it.
Colonial Literature – Protestantism, hardship on the new continent, the female perspective
1. Anne Bradstreet
1.1. Upon the Burning of Our house He might of all justly bereft
In silent night when rest I took, But yet sufficient for us left.
For sorrow near I did not look, When by the ruins oft I past
I wakened was with thund’ring noise My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice. And here and there the places spy
That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,” Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Let no man know is my Desire. Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,
I, starting up, the light did spy, There lay that store I counted best.
And to my God my heart did cry My pleasant things in ashes lie
To straighten me in my Distress And them behold no more shall I.
And not to leave me succourless. Under thy roof no guest shall sit,
Then, coming out, behold a space Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
The flame consume my dwelling place. No pleasant talk shall ‘ere be told
And when I could no longer look, Nor things recounted done of old.
I blest His name that gave and took, No Candle e'er shall shine in Thee,
That laid my goods now in the dust. Nor bridegroom‘s voice e'er heard shall be.
Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just. In silence ever shalt thou lie,
It was his own, it was not mine, Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity.
Far be it that I should repine; Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide,

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And did thy wealth on earth abide? A Bartas can do what a Bartas will
Didst fix thy hope on mould'ring dust? But simple I according to my skill.
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky From School-boy’s tongue no Rhet’ric we expect,
That dunghill mists away may fly. Nor yet a sweet Consort from broken strings,
Thou hast a house on high erect Nor perfect beauty where’s a main defect.
Frameed by that mighty Architect, My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings,
With glory richly furnished, And this to mend, alas, no Art is able,
Stands permanent though this be fled. ‘Cause Nature made it so irreparable.
It‘s purchased and paid for too
By Him who hath enough to do. Nor can I, like that fluent sweet-tongued Greek
A price so vast as is unknown, Who lisp’d at first, in future times speak plain.
Yet by His gift is made thine own; By Art he gladly found what he did seek,
There‘s wealth enough, I need no more, A full requital of his striving pain.
Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store. Art can do much, but this maxim’s most sure:
The world no longer let me love, A weak or wounded brain admits no cure.
My hope and treasure lies above.
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
1.2. To My Dear and Loving Husband Who says my hand a needle better fits.
If ever two were one, then surely we. A Poet’s Pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee. For such despite they cast on female wits.
If ever wife was happy in a man, If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can. They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold. But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild,
My love is such that rivers cannot quench, Else of our Sex, why feigned they those nine
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense. And poesy made Calliope’s own child?
Thy love is such I can no way repay; So ‘mongst the rest they placed the Arts divine,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. But this weak knot they will full soon untie.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever, The Greeks did nought but play the fools and lie.
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
Let Greeks be Greeks, and Women what they are.
1.3. Prologue Men have precedency and still excel;
To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings, It is but vain unjustly to wage war.
Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun, Men can do best, and Women know it well.
For my mean Pen are too superior things; Preeminence in all and each is yours;
Or how they all, or each their dates have run, Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.
Let Poets and Historians set these forth.
My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth. And oh ye high flown quills that soar the skies,
And ever with your prey still catch your praise,
But when my wond’ring eyes and envious heart If e’er you deign these lowly lines your eyes,
Great Bartas’ sugar’d lines do but read o’er, Give thyme or Parsley wreath, I ask no Bays.
Fool, I do grudge the Muses did not part This mean and unrefined ore of mine
‘Twixt him and me that over-fluent store. Will make your glist’ring gold but more to shine.

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The Great Awakening – religious fervor, fanaticism, biblical allegory
Jonathan Edwards
Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God
We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a
slender thread that any thing hangs by; thus easy is it for God when he pleases to cast his enemies down to hell. . .

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And
the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not
then very angry with them; as angry as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel
and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on
earth; yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many
of those who are now in the flames of hell…

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his
hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so.
The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made
ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is
whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. . . .
So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery
pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those
that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell; and they have done nothing in the
least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one
moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would
fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and
they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short,
they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of. . . .

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire,
abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of
nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten
thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have
offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds
you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last
night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no
other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand
has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the
house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of
the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much
against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath
flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any
Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your
own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. . . .

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And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open,
and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to
him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north, and south; many
that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts
filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in
hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while
you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to
mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? . . .
Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. . . .

Enlightenment – Reason, politics and independence


Thomas Paine
Common Sense
In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no
other preliminaries to settle with the reader than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and
suffer [permit] his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves; that he will puton, or rather that he will not
put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.
Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America. Men of all ranks have
embarked in the controversy, from different motives and with various designs; but all have been ineffectual, and
the period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, decide the contest; the appeal was the choice of the king,
and the continent hath accepted the challenge…
The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ’Tis not the affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom,
but of a continent - of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. ’Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age;
posterity are virtually involved in the contest and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the
proceedings now. Now is the seed time of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be like a
name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound will enlarge with the tree, and
posterity read it in full grown characters…

Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries,
’TIS TIME TO PART. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America is a strong and
natural proof that the authority of the one over the other was never the design of heaven. The time, likewise, at
which the continent was discovered adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled increases
the force of it. The [Protestant] reformation was preceded by the discovery of America as if the Almighty graciously
meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety…