Indian creation stories orient people to their world and provide examples to guide peoples’ actions in the world. These purposes are reflected in several themes common to many American Indian creation stories:
These themes can also be used to organize our thoughts about archeological, historical, and ethnographic information. In short, these themes transcend Indian and academic perspectives on the past and provide a useful framework for comparing and contrasting these perspectives.
Using information from the Indians Before Columbus presentations, consider how these themes are reflected in the summaries provided for Indian and academic perspectives. For example, how are the Arrival and Exploration and Discovery themes reflected in Indian creation stories and in archeological reconstructions of the Ice Age origins of American Indians? How are the Organizing and Changing themes reflected in the Natchez story of the origins of corn and archeological reconstructions of the Archaic era domestication of wild plant species? How is the Maintaining theme reflected in Osage social and ceremonial organization and archeological interpretations of Mississippian ceremonial art? Can you think of other interesting comparisons?