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Title: Myths and Oral Traditions
Contributor(s): Jones, Terry L (author); Storey, Alice (author)
Publication Date: 2010
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Abstract: Myths and oral traditions inevitably combine fantasy with fact and were often metaphors rather than accurate descriptions of past events. Nonetheless, these potential sources of evidence have, in the last century and a half, played a role in the discussions and debate about possible transoceanic contacts. They figured prominently in Heyerdahl's(1950, 1952, 1968) ideas about American Indians settling the Pacific, while Jones and Klar (2005) were criticized for failing to identify any myths in support of their ideas about Polynesian contact in southern California (see Arnold 2007). In addition there are problems with the content of oral histories in the postcontact era. Native myths and oral histories in the Americas very quickly adopted and incorporated Christian doctrine as well as some aspects of European folk tales (Burland et al. 1970). Arguments may also be made that incorporations were also likely made through interactions with Africans, Chinese, and Polynesians in the postcontact era. In the Pacific, Christianity and traditional stories were also intertwined (Hanson 1990) and many others were ignored, suppressed, or even destroyed and thus do not survive for examination (Gunson 1993). Here we summarize myths and legends from South America, Polynesia, and California that we and others have identified, some of which have already figured prominently in this long-standing debate. While the oral traditions on the Polynesian side are noted as being scant, this list is by no means comprehensive, and it is likely that other oral traditions exist, especially in South America and Oceania. We leave their future examination and dissemination to specialists in oral history.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian Contacts with the New World, p. 25-35
Publisher: AltaMira Press
Place of Publication: California, United States of America
ISBN: 9780759120068
Field of Research (FOR): 200210 Pacific Cultural Studies
200209 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies
210313 Pacific History (excl New Zealand and Maori)
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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