Oral Traditions

Chip Colwell

in The Oxford Handbook of Southwest Archaeology

Published in print October 2017 | ISBN: 9780199978427
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190669942 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Oral Traditions

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Never before have oral narratives been more important in Southwest archaeology than they are today. Spoken histories—variously known as oral traditions, oral histories, Native literature, and verbal arts—play key roles in fostering a dialogue between descendant communities and archaeologists, affording broader anthropological understandings of Native cultures and their heritage, and providing novel and more informed understandings of the past. Ultimately, oral traditions are a cultural act of memory, often enveloped in metaphor but grounded in real historic events, personalities, and processes. Oral tradition and archaeology are, at base, not irreconcilably different, but rather two complementary ways of thinking and talking about the past.

Keywords: oral narratives; archaeology; Native literature; verbal arts; Native culture

Article.  5810 words. 

Subjects: North American Archaeology

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