American Literature: Native Americans
In Wisconsin, United States
How Geocaching Works
Use of geocaching.com services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer
THIS CACHE IS NOT AT THE POSTED COORDINATES.`
The cache can be found at the following coordinates:
N. 46 0A.BCD W 091. 3E.FGH
I make my living by forcing students to analyze poems, short stories, novels, and other works of literature. Why should you people be any different?
This series concentrates solely on American Literature. American Literature can be broken down into eight unique time periods, each with its own identifying characteristics. Arranged chronologically from earliest to latest, they are:
Each of the eight American Lit caches will concentrate on one of these time periods. Read the selected works and answer the questions. The correct answers will generate the correct grid coordinates.
Note: I’d do all eight caches before heading out, as all the caches are located in the same general area.
In each of the eight American Lit. mystery caches is a clue for the American Lit: Final Exam cache. I encourage you to take your time with these solves and this series—read the selections to achieve understanding rather than skimming for the answers to the questions. The answers will come with a thorough understanding of the material. Remember—sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s important.
Native Americans (pre-colonial era):
All too often, people assume that American literature started with European colonization c. 1492. This, of course, is a mistake. For 12,000-70,000 years previous to the arrival of Columbus, this country was populated by Native peoples. Although exact dates cannot be narrowed down due to a lack of written language, Native Americans have left us with a vast collection of myths, legends, and folklore passed down orally from generation to generation.
Without the knowledge of things like the law of gravity, the concept of the Earth revolving around the sun, and the Big Bang theory, Native people soon began to look at the world around them and ask themselves questions. “How was this all created?” “Why do the seasons change?” “Where do we all come from?” They didn’t have the answers, so like countless other civilizations across the globe, they made up myths to explain the world around them.
The following two myths come from the Onondaga and Apache tribes, respectively. Read them and answer the questions below to get the coords for the cache.
“The Earth on Turtle’s Back” –the Onondaga Creation Story
Before Earth was here there was only water as far as one could see in all directions, with birds and animals swimming around in it. Up above in the clouds there was Skyland. In Skyland was a great and beautiful tree with four white roots stretching to the four sacred directions. Every kind of fruit and flower grew from its wide spreading branches.
The Chief of Skyland's young wife was expecting a child. One night she dreamt she saw the great tree uprooted. The next morning she told her husband her dream. "This is very sad," he said, "for it is a dream of great power and we must do all we can to make it come true." Then the chief called all the men together and told them they must uproot the tree. But the roots were so deep and strong they couldn't budge it. So the ancient chief himself wrapped his arms around the tree and strained and strained, until with one last great effort he uprooted it. Now there was a great hole where the tree's roots had been. The chief's wife came and leaned over to look down, holding the tip of one of the uprooted tree's branches to steady herself, Far below she thought she saw something glittering like water. Leaning out further she lost her balance and fell into the hole. Her hand slipped from the tip of the branch, leaving her only a handful of seeds as she fell.
Far, far below in the waters some of the animals looked up. "Someone is falling from the sky," said one.
"We must help her," said another. Then two Swans flew up and caught her between their wings, and brought her gently down to the water where the birds and animals were watching.
She is not like us," said one of the animals. "She doesn't have webbed feet. I don't think she can live in the water."
"What shall we do?" said another of the water animals.
"I know," said one of the birds. "I have heard there is Earth far below the waters. If we dive down and bring up Earth she will have a place to stand. So the birds and animals tried to bring up Earth. First Duck dove far down beneath the surface, but he couldn't reach the bottom and floated back up. Then Beaver tried. He went even deeper, so deep that it was all dark, but he couldn't reach the bottom either. Then Loon tried and was gone a long, long time, but he too failed to bring up Earth. Soon it seemed that all had tried and failed. Then a small voice spoke.
"I will bring up Earth or die trying." They all looked to see who it was. It was little Muskrat. She dove down and swam and swam. She was not as strong and swift as the others, but she was determined. She went so deep that it was all dark, and still she swam deeper. Her lungs felt ready to burst, but she swam deeper still. At last, just as she was becoming unconscious, she grasped at the bottom with her little paw and floated upwards, almost dead. When the other animals saw her break the surface, they thought she had failed. Then they saw her right paw was held tightly shut.
"She has the Earth," they said. "Now where can we put it?"
"Put it on my back," said a deep voice. It was Great Turtle who had come up from the depths. They brought Muskrat over and placed her paw against his back. To this day there are marks at the back of Turtle's shell that were made by Muskrat's paw. The tiny bit of Earth fell on the back of Turtle. Almost immediately it began to grow and grow until it became the whole world.
Then the two Swans brought Sky Woman down. She stepped onto the new Earth and opened her hand, letting the seeds fall onto the bare soil. From the seeds the trees and grass and flowers sprang up. Life on Earth had begun.
A. Why is it relevant that both Muskrat and Sky Woman are female?
0. Because both of them nag their husbands into compliance
1. Because they were both responsible for bringing life to earth
3. Because they make the Earth a happy place
2. Because they were both inferior to the male characters
B. Why was Muskrat able to retrieve the Earth when nobody else was able to?
6. Because she was fast
7. Because she was small
0. Because she was strong
9. Because she was determined
C. What do the Sky Chief’s actions say about the role of women in Iroquois culture?
9. That they didn’t take women seriously
2. That women were superior to men
8. That women’s opinions (and dreams) were valued
4. That women were little more then slaves
The Apache Creation Story
In the beginning nothing existed--no earth, no sky, no sun, no moon, only darkness was everywhere.
Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a small bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. As if waking from a long nap, he rubbed his eyes and face with both hands.
When he looked into the endless darkness, light appeared above. He looked down and it became a sea of light. To the east, he created yellow streaks of dawn. To the west, tints of many colours appeared everywhere. There were also clouds of different colours.
Creator wiped his sweating face and rubbed his hands together, thrusting them downward. Behold! A shining cloud upon which sat a little girl.
"Stand up and tell me where are you going," said Creator. But she did not reply. He rubbed his eyes again and offered his right hand to the Girl-Without-Parents.
"Where did you come from?" she asked, grasping his hand.
"From the east where it is now light," he replied, stepping upon her cloud.
"Where is the earth?" she asked.
"Where is the sky?" he asked, and sang, "I am thinking, thinking, thinking what I shall create next." He sang four times, which was the magic number.
Creator brushed his face with his hands, rubbed them together, then flung them wide open! Before them stood Sun-God. Again Creator rubbed his sweaty brow and from his hands dropped Small- Boy.
All four gods sat in deep thought upon the small cloud.
"What shall we make next?" asked Creator. "This cloud is much too small for us to live upon."
Then he created Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, Lightning-Maker, and some western clouds in which to house Lightning-Rumbler, which he just finished.
Creator sang, "Let us make earth. I am thinking of the earth, earth, earth; I am thinking of the earth," he sang four times.
All four gods shook hands. In doing so, their sweat mixed together and Creator rubbed his palms, from which fell a small round, brown ball, not much larger than a bean.
Creator kicked it, and it expanded. Girl-Without-Parents kicked the ball, and it enlarged more. Sun-God and Small-Boy took turns giving it hard kicks, and each time the ball expanded. Creator told Wind to go inside the ball and to blow it up.
Tarantula spun a black cord and, attaching it to the ball, crawled away fast to the east, pulling on the cord with all his strength. Tarantula repeated with a blue cord to the south, a yellow cord to the west, and a white cord to the north. With mighty pulls in each direction, the brown ball stretched to immeasurable size--it became the earth! No hills, mountains, or rivers were visible; only smooth, treeless, brown plains appeared.
Creator scratched his chest and rubbed his fingers together and there appeared Hummingbird.
"Fly north, south, east, and west and tell us what you see," said Creator.
"All is well," reported Hummingbird upon his return. "The earth is most beautiful, with water on the west side."
But the earth kept rolling and dancing up and down. So Creator made four giant posts--black, blue, yellow, and white to support the earth. Wind carried the four posts, placing them beneath the four cardinal points of the earth. The earth sat still.
Creator sang, "World is now made and now sits still," which he repeated four times.
Then he began a song about the sky. None existed, but he thought there should be one. After singing about it four times, twenty- eight people appeared to help make a sky above the earth. Creator chanted about making chiefs for the earth and sky.
He sent Lightning-Maker to encircle the world, and he returned with three uncouth creatures, two girls and a boy found in a turquoise shell. They had no eyes, ears, hair, mouths, noses, or teeth. They had arms and legs, but no fingers or toes.
Sun-God sent for Fly to come and build a sweathouse. Girl- Without-Parents covered it with four heavy clouds. In front of the east doorway she placed a soft, red cloud for a foot-blanket to be used after the sweat.
Four stones were heated by the fire inside the sweathouse. The three uncouth creatures were placed inside. The others sang songs of healing on the outside, until it was time for the sweat to be finished. Out came the three strangers who stood upon the magic red cloud-blanket. Creator then shook his hands toward them, giving each one fingers, toes, mouths, eyes, ears, noses and hair.
Creator named the boy, Sky-Boy, to be chief of the Sky-People. One girl he named Earth-Daughter, to take charge of the earth and its crops. The other girl he named Pollen-Girl, and gave her charge of health care for all Earth-People.
Since the earth was flat and barren, Creator thought it fun to create animals, birds, trees, and a hill. He sent Pigeon to see how the world looked. Four days later, he returned and reported, "All is beautiful around the world. But four days from now, the water on the other side of the earth will rise and cause a mighty flood."
Creator made a very tall pinon tree. Girl-Without-Parents covered the tree framework with pinon gum, creating a large, tight ball.
In four days, the flood occurred. Creator went up on a cloud, taking his twenty-eight helpers with him. Girl-Without-Parents put the others into the large, hollow ball, closing it tight at the top.
In twelve days, the water receded, leaving the float-ball high on a hilltop. The rushing floodwater changed the plains into mountains, hills, valleys, and rivers. Girl-Without-Parents led the gods out from the float-ball onto the new earth. She took them upon her cloud, drifting upward until they met Creator with his helpers, who had completed their work making the sky during the flood time on earth.
Together the two clouds descended to a valley below. There, Girl- Without-Parents gathered everyone together to listen to Creator.
"I am planning to leave you," he said. "I wish each of you to do your best toward making a perfect, happy world.
"You, Lightning-Rumbler, shall have charge of clouds and water.
"You, Sky-Boy, look after all Sky-People.
"You, Earth-Daughter, take charge of all crops and Earth-People.
"You, Pollen-Girl, care for their health and guide them.
"You, Girl-Without-Parents, I leave you in charge over all."
Creator then turned toward Girl-Without-Parents and together they rubbed their legs with their hands and quickly cast them forcefully downward. Immediately between them arose a great pile of wood, over which Creator waved a hand, creating fire.
Great billowy clouds of smoke at once drifted skyward. Into this cloud, Creator disappeared. The other gods followed him in other clouds of smoke, leaving the twenty-eight workers to people the earth.
Sun-God went east to live and travel with the Sun. Girl-Without- Parents departed westward to live on the far horizon. Small-Boy and Pollen-Girl made cloud homes in the south. Big Dipper can still be seen in the northern sky at night, a reliable guide to all.
D. What number is apparently sacred to the Apache?
E. What are “Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, and Lightning-Maker”?
5. Anthropomorphic characters
6. Apache warriors
F. From these two stories, what can we tell about the beliefs of Native American tribes?
2. That they were in constant warfare
5. That each tribe had its own ideas about how Earth was created
4. That they hated the Europeans
1. That they were wrong
G. What common theme do the two stories share?
4. A great reverence and respect for nature
6. A belief in an all-powerful Supreme God
0. A belief that God would smite the Europeans
3. A great hatred for those who didn’t share their beliefs
H. From the two stories, were Native tribes generally monotheistic or polytheistic?
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 10/16/2015 14:56:58 Pacific Daylight Time (21:56 GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum