I absolutely loved the story of Moshup and the bridge he tried to build. I love how it was tied back into something that we know, Martha’s Vineyard. Moshup was such a good character and tried so hard to overcome the trickery of the Cheepee people. I love stories like this and how things are created in this world. Stories like this one make how this world was created so much more interesting. Cheepee did not give up when trying to get Moshup from completing his challenge and he ended up succeeding, but that did not make the story any less beautiful. The unfinished bridge became something that we can still see today.
In The Coyote and the Pebbles, a group of nocturnal animals talk to the “Great Mystery” and ask for more light. The Great Mystery tells them to gather pebbles and “draw a portrait of yourself in the sky, as high as you can reach.” Coyote, the trickster of this story, is late for the meeting, but determines to make the best portrait of all. Instead, he trips, scattering his pebbles and spoiling the other animals’ self-portraits in the sky, resulting in the current arrangement of stars. I love this story also because it is so beautiful and cool. We could hear so many stories about how the stars were created, but a story involving animals and pebbles makes it so much more interesting.
Both of these stories are so interesting and beautiful and both involve tricksters. These tricksters end up messing with the animals, but they make the story.
Before taking this class, when I thought of Native American writing this is the type of writing that came to my mind first. I thought of myths and legends from Native ancestors that told a story that always taught a lesson to the reader. I really enjoy this type of writing style because I think it is really interesting how the writers are able to connect a story to the reason why something is the way it is. For example, in Moshup’s Bridge, Perry explains that “and so it remains today that if you stand out on the cliffs of Aquinnah and look out towards the Elizabeth Islands, you will still see the stones jutting up from the water, the remnants of Moshup’s unfinished bridge.” Stories like this keep me more engaged in the reading and I remember this information instead of reading something that is boring and forgetting everything I just read.
I think it is important that Dembicki includes a page titled From the Editor that explains where he found these interesting stories and why he thought it was so important to make a sequential format so that readers all over can learn more about Native American culture and their writings. One thing that I realized to be true about myself as well was that fact that when I go to other lands I think of the people who first lived there and how different life must have been for them and how different it is now, but never do I think about that when thinking of my on homeland. Before this class, when thinking about America I would think of the European settlers that were the first people who inhabited the land, but come to find out that Native Americans were always the first ones here and instead of “finding” American, the European settlers stole it from the Natives. It is important for us to learn from the Natives about their stories of how things on Earth came to be and their beliefs. We always hear about other cultures beliefs, but not a lot do we read about the Natives’ beliefs. Instead of all this scientific analysis of why rocks were formed or how and island is formed it is interesting to read of how Mother Nature and/or Mother Earth created things on this Earth. Whether the stories are true or false it is important that the Native people have a voice and are allowed to keep their voice loud. They should be proud of their culture and their beliefs and instead of being seen as “dumb or stupid” people need to respect what they have to say, just like they respect us.
One thing that caught my eye was the fact that Dembicki focused on the authenticity of the Native American stories. He wanted to make sure the readers knew the importance of how the storytellers were the Native Americans and if the stories had to be edited, it was approved first by the storyteller and then changed. It is sad how when he first wanted to create this the Native people were hesitant because he, being a white man, made the Natives nervous of what his real intentions were. So many Natives have been used and abused for white authors to make money off of without their consent and they were scared that Dembicki was going to do the same. I don’t blame them for thinking that way; in the end they are only protecting themselves and their culture.
I absolutely loved both of these readings. I cannot count the amount of times I have read in my education classes that students need to be presented with different kinds of readings and mediums to keep the classroom fresh and interesting as well as appeal to a different kind of audience. This is exactly what both of these readings are. Just past halfway through the semester, it was nice to open up both readings and see comics. This is something I will keep in mind in my future classroom.
“Coyote and the Pebbles” was my favorite because I did not know where the story was going the whole time. I knew it had to do with the stars but did not know how the coyote figured into the story. The very end, when the coyote tripped and spilled his pebbles into the sky, thus breaking up everyone’s pictures, I had an “aha” moment. I realized that this was a story about how the stars came to be in the sky, as well as why the coyote howls at night. I think this is a great way to pass on traditions of story telling and stories that have been passed on orally for generations. This is an example of how Native Americans and their culture are coming into modernity.
I also enjoyed the second story about Moshop and him trying to create the bridge. It is a great creation story of how the land around us came to be formed, as well as the red clay. Creation stories such as these remind me of the stories about Selu and shedding corn to save everybody. These stories serve a purpose which is to describe how something came to be which cannot otherwise be explained, or to teach morals to live by. I think it is a great thing to see that while the Native American culture moves towards modernity, it does not lose its heritage and culture. I was actually half expecting Moshop to complete his task in the end or beat Cheepee somehow. It just didn’t seem right to let the bad guy win even though it had to happen in order for the story to make sense in real world practicality. I am curious as to how many of these stories are out there in the world and if many kids read them on reservations. It would be interesting I think to see how the traditions of elders telling stories orally is either clashing or jut simply changing with younger generation.
I found the creation story of how the stars came to be very interesting. It is a great way to teach children not only how stars were created but how doing something can never be taken back. It started from pebbles that glow from lake, and each animal made their own creation in the sky. Then Coyote came along and accidently spilled his rocks, which then crashed into all the portraits in the sky. Though this was a mistake everyone was very upset and they wanted it to be fixed but the creation of light had already started. The point of the story is that you cannot go back in time and change what has been done. This is a good way to teach children to be careful of what they do or say because whatever they do end up doing is out in the world forever. Like Coyote tried very hard to take it back but he couldn’t. He howled up into the sky, but no matter how hard he tried nothing could change the mistake he made.
Creation stories in the Native American culture serve an important aspect to Native Americans. It explains how things appeared on this earth or explains a way to act or can explain the ways of life. Native American creation stories may appear different because it involves nature and animals mostly. When American creations stories do exist and also serve the same purpose. Instead of accepting these creation stories we dismiss them only because they are different. Native Americans use these stories to explain the same way Christianity does. It teaches and explains the world to children.
Response to "Coyote and the Pebbles" and "Mosh up"
After reading "Coyote and the Pebbles" I did not truly understand what it meant. I have never read anything like this comic strip, especially having to do with Native American culture. I did not understand the importance of coyotes in the Native American myth but I can see now that they were definitely a part of it. In the drawings for the comic, the designer made the Native American man look like a stereotypical scary man with face paint and elongated features through his face. The clothing that they had on looked like it was meant to be fur skin or some sort of animal remains. The Native people were coming off as calling people rude and selfish, which I did not understand. I loved the story about the stars and how they got their placement, because it is a fun thing for kids to read in the elementary levels.
In the article, "Mosh Up" I immediately looked at the first picture which was a Native American man that looked like he was about to kill somebody. He is not wearing a shirt and has long hair, which they made all Native American men look like. That was the one comparison I made between these two comics, was that the stereotypes were the same of the portrayal of Native American people. I thought the overall story that was told in this comic was great. It was basically a version of creation and it was very imaginative, which is great to show kids in an elementary grade.
Between both stories, I think that these myths are amazing to have within a culture. It is something that they can all connect to each other. It also a story is passed down through generations. It was very important that Dembicki added the page where he describes in more detail why these are important in the Native American culture. Stories and myths like these open our eyes to the imagination of different people and areas.
It was such a pleasant surprise to see that we would be reading comic strips for ENGL 326 today. The stories of Matt Dembicki’s collection titled Moshup and Coyote and Pebbles tell about the creation of different aspects of nature. Moshup re-tells the Native American story of the formation of rocks off the coast of what we refer to today as Martha’s Vineyard. Coyote and Pebbles re-tells the Native American tale that attempts to explain the existence of stars in the night sky. Both of the stories were so much fun to read, and revealed a lot about Native American values and ideology.
As a person born and raised in New Bedford, with strong family connections to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Moshup was particularly interesting to me. I loved how the comic strip remarked on Native American whaling on Martha’s Vineyard, because New Bedford is well-known for its whaling industry which thrived during colonial times. It was nice to read the comic strips which showed the fact that Native Americans were already whaling even before the arrival of colonists, and were using various parts of the whale for food, tools, and fuel. It is so common in New Bedford to learn about whaling from a Euro-American perspective, so I enjoyed looking at the industry from a different angle for once.
Moshup also interested me because it focused on the natural beauty of Martha’s Vineyard and the islands of Massachusetts. Anyone who has visited Martha’s Vineyard is familiar with the strong native presence there, and is also no stranger to the beautiful beaches, rock formations, and cliffs found on the island. The story intrigued me because it remarked on the natural beauty of the oceans surrounding Martha’s Vineyard, and attempted to explain the existence of the beautiful rock formations and jetties found all along the island’s coast.
Coyote and Pebbles does not explain formations here on Earth like Moshup, but rather tells a tale of the existence of the stars in outer space. I enjoyed how Coyote and Pebbles acknowledged the Great Mystery as a power, because it alludes to the fact that there is a presence on Earth that is mysterious to all and not meant to be discovered. Not EVERYTHING is meant to have an answer, and to me that is what the Great Mystery in the comic strip represented. Another aspect of Coyote and Pebbles that stuck out to me was the focus in the comic on focusing on the good that comes out of situations and not the negative. In the comic, even though Coyote messes up the portraits that the other animals were drawing with pebbles, at the end of it all, the night sky is filled with light and that is something to be proud of no matter what. The story has a lesson that can be useful even in daily life. The struggles of the past might not be pleasant or enjoyable, but they can help us learn and grow as people, and there is always some good to be found even in the most dismal situation.
I like the medium of a comic strip which is used to tell the story called Coyote and the Pebbles. It is a progressive and entertaining art form.
I don't believe I've read any Native American myth referencing the future until this one, which states that the world was not as it is now, as it is not how it will be. Cultures in general don't tend to mention this, and even today it isn't referred to very often, even though it is known to be true.
I liked how the animals in this story could speak to the Great Mystery, who is a god figure. I like that the Great Mystery is not said to be male or female, but simply "the mystery that dwells within us and around us."
The story never explains human forms, although every animal seems to have one. I don't understand where the concept came from and have not read any Native American myths in which animals specifically change into a human form, seemingly at will. In this story, the fox changes at a seemingly random time, which I do not understand, either. I'd like to know the purpose for a human form, and why it is included in this particular story. It seems rather unnecessary here, and there aren't any other humans in the story, so it isn't clear whether or not, according to this story, all humans are really animals in human form.
I laughed when the late coyote was said to be running on Indian time. In my family we call it Irish time, and in my church it is Arab time, which is two hours later than what the clocks say. This concept is apparently familiar to all cultures, so mankind in general must be late quite often, universally.
This myth explains two concepts in one story: the origin of the stars and why the coyote howls. As is typical of mythology, the coyote's howl is an added explanation at the very end of the myth. The stars are the focus of the story, even though Coyote is considered the main character.
It was a nice change of pace to read a graphic novel rather than the usual scholarly article and yet I was still able to gain insight on Native American culture. Moshup’s tale showed how Native American’s made sense of their world. The washing up of whales on shore were Moshup’s tribute to his people and the rocks leading to the Elizabeth Islands were his unfinished bridge. Though I like to see the world as rationally as I can there is still a sort of charm to the stories that are the Native American’s idea of why the Earth is the way it is. Storytelling is something I enjoy but of course the Native Americans took it much more seriously. Coyote and the Pebble was much more poetic and less literal than Moshup and for that reason I believe I enjoyed even more than Moshup. One particular line I liked was that “Growth and change are constant” and this is something I believe it as well. Coyote’s tale was sad but shared a very important lesson for its readers. It reminded me of many other myths from other cultures. Myths are important to cultures like the Native Americans for passing down vital lessons that will span generations as long as they are retold. It’s ironic to read these ancient myths in such a modern medium, on a computer in graphic novel form. It shows that myths do certainly span time and can effect several generations.
Joyce Rain Anderson
October 28, 2014
Coyote and the Pebbles and Moshup’s Bridge
The story Native trickster story of Moshup and Cheepee was very intriguing. However, as a side note going back to the presentation on Indians having no sense of humor, both Moshup and Cheepee are portrayed very stoically (yet another reason why Natives are believed to be humorless). As a reader while reading Moshup’s Bridge, I could not help but root for Moshup, because of his kind nature towards the people, in his attempt to accomplish the very difficult task of completing a bridge overnight. When he was able to defeat the roadblock delivered to him in the form of a crab by Cheepee, I really thought that he was going to be able to do it. I was so disappointed to read how he was tricked into believing that the crow that Cheepee forced to call out in the night time was the first crow calling on the dawn.
I also really liked the story of the coyote and the other nocturnal animals. A creation story of sorts, it was interesting to see how the coyote’s mistake granted the nocturnal animals with what they were hoping for: light in the dark. Although he is unable to create the best portrait of all, I would argue that he did in fact do what he set out to do; he gave mother earth one of her most beautiful features: the stars in the night sky.
I really enjoyed the comic strips Coyote and the Pebbles and Moshup’s Bridge. It was nice to have pictures to help walk me through the story and invest me more as a reader- I think that this would also be beneficial as a future teacher by exposing students to texts other than strictly prose.
Reading “Moshup’s Bridge”, by Johnathan Perry and Chris Piers, and “Coyote and the Pebbles” by Dayton Edmunds and Micah Farritor was a surprising turn in our examination of native writing. Coincidentally, I am a very avid comic book reader, and I regularly collect issues of certain comic book titles. It is an excellent time for comic book fans, too, as the modern world seems to have suddenly taken an interest in the medium. We see this in a wide range of effects, from Hollywood finally realizing they have years of comic book stories to adapt into big budget films, to schools taking a genuine interest in how the graphic novel can fit into the curriculum. The graphic novel, particularly, has gained a sharp increase in respect over the last decade, and it’s amazing to see people change their attitude about an artistic medium that is usually riddled with misconceptions. What is interesting to see in these two works, however, is how traditional Native American stories are represented. Furthermore, I think the editor’s note makes an important distinction about wanting to provide a rich and warming experience with these stories, by handling them with care.
The fact a majority of these readings are in comic form is truly captivating, as an exciting and different way to read Native works. Throughout the semester, we have not been presented with comics. At first, I was intrigued yet extremely unsure of what would unfold within these readings. Nonetheless, I immediately recognized the notions of nature and creation. In the end, I was extremely content and satisfied, as they stood as a new, fresh outlook on Native writing! The story of Moshup deeply intrigued me. As a native Cape Codder, Martha’s Vineyard truly resonates with me. From the coastline of my town I can view the coastline of Martha’s Vineyard. On countless occasions I have taken the ferry or a small boat to visit the island. To read of a place so familiar is enchanting. This tale of tricksters and creation gives new meaning to the land so dear to my heart. Creation stories such as Moshup and the Coyote profoundly accentuate the meaning and power contained within all of Nature. By formulating a tale on how particular aspects of nature came to be, the narrator illustrates that there is more to nature than meets the eye. Every part of nature lives and breathes, containing a story to be told. Moreover, these tales teach to accept and move onward from the failures and accidents that inflict your life. No disappointment or wrongdoing deserves to impede your life. There will be mishaps, letdowns, and even jealous, selfish people who attempt to destroy you, yet you must not permit these obstacles to destroy you. The power of creation stories to reveal more than just stories of creation is incredible.
Native Writing and Rhetoric
I think that these trickster tales are great tools to embrace native cultural aspects wihile showing them due respect. The important part of these tales is that they are presented from a native perspective rather than from a European one. I think that this format of conveying the cultural aspects of Native Americans is important because it continues the form of storytelling in a unique way. For instance, much of native culture has been passed down in oral tongue, only recently being penned down in hopes of spreading awareness and preserving culture.
I think that this format is especially intriguing to a younger dynamic. We have discussed the idea that native children are often found to be apathetic in a classroom setting because they have been taught to be silent about their wit, creativity and importance. In the piece about education, the author stated that education could “save” native students’ lives. I think that comic book style stories like this can reach those children who may not know how to hone their creative juices. These stories hold the possibility to inspire them to create something meaningful, funny, or lasting.
October 27, 2014
The assigned reading titled “Coyote and the Pebbles” was an intriguing read. The way this particular excerpt was formatted caught my attention immediately. The excerpt is structured as a comic book would be, and this was different from any other reading that we have had up until to this point in the semester. By having the story structured in this format I believe that it gives the story life, and it gives the reader an opportunity to truly have an interactive and imaginative experience with the text. In my opinion the story serves as a cautionary tale in regards to the real life injustices that the Native Americans endured. The other night animals are attempting to create a self-portrait of themselves in the sky, however they completely forget about the coyote. The coyote represents the modern day Native Americans, how at times their feelings and general presence is sometimes altogether forgotten and pushed aside. The night animals can’t comprehend the perspective of the coyote, they are only thinking of their personal feelings and how they feel about the coyote ruining their self-portrait. Unfortunately, they fail to realize their own wrongdoings. “Great Mystery” is presented as the voice of reason of this excerpt, and essentially says the past cannot be undone but the animals can still alter the future. I took this as a parallel to the injustices that Native Americans have had to endure in the past and present, but if both parties can come together on an understanding the future can change for the better. At the end of the excerpt the coyote flees due to the fact that the animals make him feel ashamed of his actions, much like the settlers did to the Native Americans. They called them savages and belittled the Native Americans purely because they refused to understand the Native American culture, they could not view them in a rational light. I think the tale is trying to promote the idea of letting go of your past and accepting it in order to salvage the future and harmony.
I’m always intrigued with the creation stories we read in this class; not only are they creative, but they are meaningful to both Native American culture and the world in general. The Coyote and the Pebbles was a fantastic read because not only was it another interesting origins story, but also had a lot of symbolism. I find it heartbreaking, yet poetic that the wolf howls at night because it is lonely and is begging the “Great Mystery” for a chance to correct his mistake. Also, I like how the divine power or spirit is called the “Great Mystery” because no one truly knows what’s outs there; we all have our own interpretations and symbols for a higher power, but all in all, it’s a mystery to all of us. Unfortunately, being the trickster of this story, it’s tragic that the Coyote both fell to his misfortune and eternally cries for a second chance all because of his own choices; if he showed up on time to the original meeting, he would have has the same start/outcome as the other forest animals. Also, if he stayed throughout the entirety of the second meeting with the “Great Mystery,” he would of understood/knew that the “Great Mystery” forgave him.
However, there is also a lot of negative symbolism in this tale that caught my eye. First off, I thought it was clever to interpret Europeans and Native Americans as common animals to portray that they are all the same; common animals = common people. With that said, it was also clever to have both sets of animals portray the opinions of their respective cultures. For example, when the wolf said that the other forest animals “left no space for him” and that “they’re selfish to think of themselves” resemble how Europeans took over their entire land and thought of no one but themselves. On the opposing side, the other animals hating the wolf for “ruining their portraits” symbolizes the effort Native Americans gave to reclaim their land. At the same time, to refer to the wolf running on “Indian time” is blatantly offensive on its own, but that was a given. Overall, I interpreted this story not only as a creations tory of the wolf and the stars in the sky, but also as a child’s story to portray the opinions, personality and views of both sides; it is a “child-friendly” way to portray the discrepancy between the Native Americans and the Europeans.
This week’s readings, consisting of “Moshup,” “Coyote and the Pebbles,” and “Native American Creation Stories” by Laura Weaver are all contextually similar considering they are all written in regards to Indian creation myths.
In the first reading “Moshup,” an Indian man, who is revered by his people for performing incredible feats and providing them food, is challenged to build a bridge leaving Martha’s Vineyard in one night. Thanks to the trickery of one of his fellow tribesman, he is unable to complete the task and we see the reason why there is a huge jetty peering out from the island. The myth not only gives us a viable reason for why we have jetties, though the powers of Moshup are clearly exaggerated, but it also gives us insight into a Native perspective of the world. We see that dawn is signaled by the squawk of the first crow, as well as seeing the Native method for transporting large goods in baskets.
In the second reading, “Coyote and the Pebbles,” we are given an explanation for why there are stars in the sky. The creatures of the night wish for more light, as they only have the light of the moon to live by. The spirit of the night challenges them to gather up as many shiny pebbles from the bottom of water sources as they can, and to draw portraits of themselves in the sky. The coyote is late to the meeting of the night creatures, and takes it upon himself to build the grandest portrait he can. When trying to do so, he manages to spill not only his but everyone’s pebbles, and thus we are given reason for why the stars are so miscellaneously scattered throughout the sky. There are many morals and tribal wisdoms in this text. First, considering the creatures are mad there portraits are ruined, we learn that things that cannot be changed must be accepted, for the creatures have no power over changing their portraits. We also learn why the coyote is typically a loner, as he howls to the night spirits for a second chance to draw his portrait. What’s also interesting about this myth is the ability of the animals to transition from human to creature at their fancy. This gives us insight into the Indian’s idea of relationships between animals and people.
Lastly, in “Native American Creation Stories” by Laura Weaver, we see the variations in creation stories between tribes and what it all means. Firstly, creation stories are typically divided into two subcategories, being “earth diver” and “emergence.” In “earth diver” stories, such as “The Sky Woman,” a world emerges from mud, being that there is already an initial world with some lower forms of life and no human inhabitants. What’s addressed about the story of The Sky Woman is it’s universality, as we see there are many different variations of the stories among tribes all depicting a similar message. What tends to vary is the role of women in these stories, usually diminishing or strengthening their powers, which typically reflects on the roles of women in these tribes. We also see emergence stories, such as “The Spider Woman,” where earth rises from some lower world. In this story particularly the world is built from three lower worlds, and “The Spider Woman” is responsible for most of the change and growth in these worlds.
Overall we see that creation stories aren’t necessarily told as an explanation for how all of existence came to be, but mostly to assert how we as a race got to where we are currently.
Space to comment on the readings for each class...