Oral Traditions

Questions for Discussion

  • The narrator in the video, Tlingit Elder Cecilia Kunz, explains that her culture preserves and passes on history using forms other than written documents. How would you pass on a story if it could not be written down? How is a story changed if it is presented as written text rather than as a work of art or performance, such as a song or dance?
  • The speaker explains that she believes that "everything is alive." What do you think she means by this, and how might this be reflected in the stories she and her people tell?
  • How does the Native American view that everything is alive differ from the view of other cultures? What misunderstandings could this difference in views cause among cultures?
  • Why is it important to pass a group's history down to the next generation? What stories does your family tell that preserve your family's history or traditions?