Posts Tagged ‘native american literature’


Mi’kmac Indian version of Cinderella!

January 17, 2013

mi'kmac cinderellaAs you probably know, Perrault took stories from different oral traditions and wrote his version. That’s OK, of course. Free culture is a fundamental human right! (The sad part is why his got widely circulated and why the gypsie’s oral story didn’t). I have found in Angela Carter’s book of Fairy Tales what must have been the original oral version of Cinderella, by English gypsies, and yet again, this happens: it seems Perrault’s stories (like the grim Grimm Brother’s!!) were widely spread because the women in those stories were portrayed as what patriarchal ideology defines as feminine. (Get a copy of Carter’s collection, and you’ll find all kinds of women there, not only silly weak victim-like unimaginative unintelligent women.) Well, while developing a linguistic-literary project some years ago I found this version of Perrault’s Cinderella, by Mi’kmac Indians in America (the continent). What do you think of it? 🙂 If you are interested in translating it into Spanish, you could get it published on Mujer Palabra for sure! And you can count on me for feedback or corrections. 🙂


More on American Indians and related issues

December 17, 2012

Here’s a Coyote story, “Coyote Kills a Giant.” Coyote appears in Native Indian stories and I’ve got a picture of him in a matriarchal tarot I bought in London — Coyote, the Trickster, it’s called.

Here are two poems by Indian women who I later found on the Internet!

  • The Housing Poem, by Dian Million and
  • Strange Fruit, by Joy Harjo – in this recording I try to explain why this poem is so poetical, meaning so powerful, so free — not that I’m happy with my words, really. I love poetry so much I simply hate to speak about poetry. It’s really hard for me! All I say about it sounds worse than keeping my mouth shut, so that’s why I seldom speak about poems, or poetry! 😀

The book that triggered all of this Native Indian reading I got into was this one: Reinventing the Enemy’s Language. Contemporary Native Women’s Writing of North America. The link I have on Talking People is broken, so that’s why I’m posting it here — eventually I’ll get into fixing that and working a bit more on the web page devoted to American Indians.

But anyway, on Talking People, the Native American section in (top right-hand side) in The World – People & Culture
Direct link

I know that talking about First nations in the world feels bad, because they’ve been abused. But today, more and more people are networking, getting in touch, wanting to learn from each other and live together respecting the fact we are all different, too, and this is positive. I mean, we should not look away when we have the chance to learn from other people, even if we belong to the culture that is responsible for all the harm done to other groups of people.

I’m not only thinking of North American Indians, or the indigenous population in Central and South Americas (watch Vía Campesina). I’m also thinking of Romas, in Spain called gypsies — people who were nomadic many years ago and came from India. Gypsie people nowadays are gypsies but lead sedentary lives like ours, have assimilated the alien culture (white’s) but keep being gypsies. I wonder if you would have some time to check all I say here is correct! If you find mistakes or improvable explanations, please, send me an email so I can fix it!)

In Australia, the government had the decency and the dignity to express an apology to the aboriginesSame news in The New York TimesLearning Activity based on this news. Words matter. Apologizing is something that more people should be free to do. Obviously, those words should only be used when we are willing to stop the abuse and when we are also willing to give the necessary support.

SORRY THIS BIT WAS MISPLACED!! THIS IS ITS PLACE: Apologizing to gypsies would be a good idea. However, in Spain, we haven’t even considered necessary to bury all the dead that the Franquist dictatoship refused to bury — something that had never been done in Western Europe, because after every war, the dead, regardless their ideology, were all buried!

David Harrison, in a book I recommended here some time ago (see post), posed the question of how sad it is for languages to go extinct considering they are knowledge systems. He mentions some First Nations or native peoples who have a unique knowledge of nature. A kind of knowledge technological consumerist societies do not have. Many indian languages in the USA have gone extinct, and now people are trying to preserve some of the surviving languages. In Spain we also know about language revitalization policies, because during the dictatorship various peoples who were also Spanish were persecuted, their languages were banned, and when we managed to start building a democracy we had to implement revitalization policies. Fortunately, some of those languages, like Catalan and Euskera (Basque) have been recovered. Euskera was in peril of becoming extinct years ago, but is now in good health. Apparently, it’s the only Iberian language that has survived!! All the languages around here belong to the IndoEuropean Language Family except Euskera! It’s so interesting! Strangely enough, in the Autonomous Community of Madrid it’s very difficult to learn any of the other languages spoken in Spain, for political reasons! That’s really sad, and I do hope some day this won’t be the case! We need a plurilingual world — through language we can build a more civilized society!


Scenes of Smoke Signals

December 6, 2012

If you enjoy the upcoming lesson (see this post) where you’ll, share your thoughts and work on The Absolutely True… we could watch “Smoke Signals“, the movie (don’t know when or how or where, though). I have a copy of the screenplay in class, which I’ll donate to the school’s library at some point. But I think it’s worth having a copy in your personal little English mediateque, right? — it’s about €5. Of course, screenplays have some technical English, but that just means you’ll have the chance to learn more! 😀

Sherman Alexie: “This is not the first feature film written, directed, and produced by Native Americans. It is the first such film to ever receive national and international distribution by a major studio. It’s an important distinction. Natives have made tons of films over the last few decades, but sadly, Smoke Signals remains the only Indian-created film to ever receive this much attention. Also, looking at the trailer, this film could have easily been titled Bad Wigs.”



Ulali – healing – loss – water

December 6, 2012

Song Title: Wah Jhi Le Yihm. Album: Smoke Signals Sountrack by BC Smith and Forgive Our Fathers Suite by Ulali – another performance

Ulali (posts from YouTube link below): This song is in the Tutelo language… I had it translated by one of our speakers from home in NC. It’s an old pigeon dialect of our Old Siouan, Iroquois and coastal Algonquin people’s languages together.  All 3 of our big nations have lived together for thousands of years here in what is now the present Virginia and Carolina’s. This is a place that many nations migrated out of and went on traveling north, west and some more south and all over. An old hub!! Also this is a song for healing and giving back to the water and letting the water wash and clean and the spirit rise those are some of the words in the song. Wahjheeleh Yihm… means I carry you with me… So…it means let the water carry you… It’s an ancestral song for the dead and the water as the sacred source…where some of us put in the ashes as a return to be free spirit!! I wrote this song with the help of my cousin Jennifer and Soni. We are Ulali…


Practice your final “s” and dentals!

November 1, 2012

Today in Intermedio 2 we practiced the -(e)s endings /iz/ and the -(e)d endings /t/, /d/, /id/

Here are two links I recommended, in case any of you all want to do some reading aloud! You can listen and repeat, or listen to the whole story while jotting down sounds over the written words and then read.

This other episode includes modal-awareness

Oh, a third!!:

Today I recommend that if it’s hard for you to pronounce a final D (especially after V and N), you can say a T. It’s OK. Well, for those of you who wish, like Elena, to know when it’s a D and when a T, here is an explanation I can give in class, if you like.


On the Day of the Dead… Conmemorando la vida de las personas que perdimos

October 31, 2012

As a non-believer I do devote some time to thinking of the people I loved who are dead, and also of the people who die every single day because of the violent world this species has created. This helps me keep focused on important things and it helps me avoid getting lost in unimportant things in life! 🙂

This picture is a Guatemalan burial ground. Indigenous burial grounds are really cheerful, and people at wakes tell jokes and anecdotes. It’s how believers celebrate the person’s spirit is in paradise. That’s what religion should be doing for people, and not what it’s been doing for centuries…

I have also found this amazing Indian prayer, whose excellent advice to allow us to deal with the fact of losing a person we have loved I share. I think I’ll record it for the Talking People Podcast. Till then, here it is…

Indian Prayer

When I am dead
Cry for me a little
Think of me sometimes
But not too much

Think of me now and again
As I was in life
At some moments it’s pleasant to recall
But not for long

Leave me in peace
And I shall leave you in peace
And while you live
Let your thoughts be with the living


Extended families

October 24, 2012

Today in the Avanzado 2 group. I had a little conversation with one of the Small Groups on what an extended family is.

I have to say that I believe the exercise where your answer should be “extended family” is misleading. I mean, I disagree an extended family is the rest of family members. For us, a family is a nuclear family, and then we have more relatives or family members. But in my view, an extended family is a cultural notion which other cultures have, meaning gypsies or roma people in Spain, African people in villages and towns, or American/Native Indians living the Indian way, so to say.

On the Talking People Podcast I published a beautiful poem, “The Housing Poem” by an Indian author, Dian Million, which gives you more accurate information (or a feel of what an extended family is, what it feels like, and why the larger families we have (cousins, people-in-law, and the like) are not extended families, really.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I thought I should pose this question to you.

PS: I wrote to Dian Million when I finally found her on the Net, and she kindly replied. So she’s seen the web page we made for her poem! 🙂

By the way, answering Pablo’s question: ‘kin’

Here is one sense of the word: It can be “parientes más cercanos”, “next of kin” but I don’t know how to use the word, really. I believe it has restricted areas of use, like in wills (testamentos). Anyway, people, if you have better explanations, you are welcome to post them here!


December Oral Presentations (OPs) for Avanzado 2

October 19, 2012

Materials: the Sherman Alexie novel and your TV series episodes.

Mission for the novel (delivery of books scheduled for November 1): I recommend you read it a couple of times — the first with your heart (emotional reading), this is, without stopping to look up words in the dictionary, and the second focusing on language, this is 1) looking up the most important words, 2) underlining Useful Language (for your own personal use), 3) selecting passages you love, and/or passages that are good material as Useful Language. In December, you will share your “Useful Language” and your passages in small groups and/or at Plenary. Here are two links to work by Avanzado 2 students on this novel:

Mission based on the episodes of a TV series you picked: find people in class who have chosen the same TV series. Ask me for 20 minutes of time in class to get together with them in November and see if you can form a team to prepare an OP based on that TV series. You can do whatever you like, the “minimum” being that you share some Useful Language you were able to understand (without doing any reading!!). Here is an example, at the Talking People Podcast: Everyday Language 1, (there are up to 4). Over here, on this blog, there are ideas about how to work with TV series (first paragraph on this page: At the Students’ Corner of EOI Getafe you will find examples of OPs by students, too. Here’s the link: Some are videos and some are texts they prepared. Actually, a group of students who liked theater decided to give their OP the format of acting out three scenes in one of the episodes of Big Bang! You must watch it! It’s fun.


The Joy Harjo Project

June 23, 2010

Joy Harjo is a Muscogee/Creek artist, who plays the saxophone, creates music, writes amazing poetry, among many other kinds of explorations!

This project involves…

  • watching her “Reality Show”
  • reading and listening to her poem “Strange Fruit”, which includes a brief comment by Michelle on the power to convey meanings in poetry,
  • reading about and listening to Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit”, and thinking about both pieces of work (All of those resources can be found at the TP webpage on Joy Harjo)
  • and (if you want more) having a look at the Anthology she edited with Gloria Bird (to borrow from your teacher if necessary!), Reinventing the Enemy’s Language. Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America.
%d bloggers like this: