N. Scott Momaday

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What does it mean when Momaday says that Native Americans "tell stories in order to affirm our being and our place in the scheme of things"?

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In his essay “The Becoming of the Native: Man in America Before Columbus,” Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday’s audience is mainstream American society. His purpose in writing the text is to explain to the outsider the significance of storytelling within Native American culture and society. He writes that Native Americans “tell stories in order to affirm [their] being and [their] place in the scheme of things.” This means that oral storytelling culture is a way for Native American groups to situate themselves within the greater cosmos.

When Native American tribes relocate to a new place, Momaday explains, they use storytelling to help establish their relationship to their new land. By telling stories, they learn to develop a harmonious dynamic with the natural world. Stories help them orient themselves in the universe and understand both the world around them and their roles in it.

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