Define and discuss the significance of the American Indian Studies term “Tribalography.”

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"Tribalography" was a term coined by LeeAnne Howe, a Choctaw scholar. Essentially, the word refers to the power and the role of stories and myths in creating tribes. This is true, she argues, on several different levels. First, a story is part of the shared heritage of a tribe. It is a fundamental part of their culture and signifies the meanings they give to different concepts and things. Second, stories are the way they understand the world, one which is analogous to Western science, not to mention Western religions. Third, stories are part of the history of a tribe, a point that modern scholars of Native American history are just beginning to understand. The idea that Native stories are "fictions" ignores the fact that Indian peoples tell stories with a different focus, and reflects a "privileged view of text" in Western culture. Whereas Western history purports to be based on some empirical truth, Native histories focus on the meanings that events had in the lives of people. 


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