Since the beginning of time, society has had the tendency of
conditioning our minds as to what is, and what is not. The literary world
is no different, there is no doubt, it has a colossal impact on our society. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines literature as “writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest (Sept.23,08). History of the literary world includes Native Americans. Webster’s’ defines Native Americans as “a member of any of the aboriginal peoples of the western hemisphere “(Sept.23, 08). Because society has the inclination to view Native Americans, as the first Americans; the answer as to why Native American Literature is American is simple. It is the foundation of the building blocks of all literature. To define Native American and literature as a whole, people need to understand the history of both.
The United States of American lives by the notion all citizens should have the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Though unapplied to Native Americans until the early nineteen hundreds, it had no bearing on what their words have done for the literary society. America has decided that it was okay to make films and write books about Indians. It comes down to; we as a whole civilization have a right to determine what literature is. Because, being American gives us that very right. We have a right to own our own opinion what the literature is to be interpreted as. Their writings are our enablers to visualize in a way American Literature can not. Knowing that the ‘Indians’ had reservations about becoming ‘Americans‘, including their stories hopefully directed some sort of appreciation for who they really are.
Understanding their words at the time were meant to be exchanged amongst themselves and not a creation of literary works. There is no doubt that literature is such an important aspect of our lives, it is often taken for granted. It sits right next to the significance of the history of the Native Americans. When the literary world decided that the mere words and stories from the Indians could create such diverse impact on readers, they concurred it was crucial it be included in the literature aspect of society. Literature as we know it is broken down according to its origin. We accept it in many languages which are usually attached to their titles. There are so many genres of all literature, whether it be French, English or German, the Native American was adopted sort of speak, for the English form.
The Indians have always lived by oral interpretation which influenced modern literature as it is today. “After 200 years of evolution, American literature is as diverse and multi-faceted as the American population. It is whatever we can make of it.” (F. Todd Tiefenauer)”.
As Native American, Pulitzer Price author, N. Scott Momaday writes, "The voices are all around us, the three voices. You have the mythic and the historical and the personal and then they becomes a wheel, they revolve, they alternate” (Native Voice). “Myth becomes history becomes memoir becomes myth." To answer these questions is to begin to consider what it means to be American and Native American simultaneously” (Native Voice)
Because the Indians were brought up in the Catholicism way, made it American. Like so many things in our culture, it too has changes with the times. "If there was not a body of literature, then Native people would be invisible. Sometimes the term 'Indian' is an abstract idea. But when we express ideas in literature, then we have a valid body of expression that's totally ours." (2004, Jan10, Reading into the Native American). The mere fact that these stories are continually rewritten, sometimes, completely way off base, constitutes its impact beyond anything else that has been introduced to people. It is the basis for the Americanisms of the Native American literature, which forces the discussion that creates the understanding for the meanings, “expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest”, hence literature.
”All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly.... We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way; the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.” - Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee). American Literature is American because it tells us bits and pieces of our Country’s past. Native American Literature is American because without it, literature wouldn’t be.