Introduction (Critical Survey of Poetry: Topical Essays)
The first humans to inhabit the North American continent are believed to have arrived by crossing the land bridge over the Bering Strait, between ten and perhaps as many as fifty thousand years ago. During the long development of many highly elaborated cultures in the Western Hemisphere, a rich body of literature was produced, the earliest of which manifested itself as spoken, or oral, literature. Of that oral literature, some minute portion has been recorded in written texts and, more recently, in film and audiotape. Within contemporary traditional Indian communities, oral poetry is still being composed and performed.
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