compare, and then contrast

I made another chart.

In class we’ve been talking about how the ideas represented in the creation and origin myths of the Apache line up with the myths held scared by most European colonial people, which, broadly speaking, was a Protestant, Christian set of ideas. I think it’s safe to say that most people coming over from Europe at that time were familiar with the creation myth as told in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. In class, we went over just the basics of this creation story, and then we made a chart to compare the two versions and to see if we could find any obvious conflicts. Our charts in class looked something like this:

apache/colonial chart

As for conflict, we found lots of places where serious disagreement and misunderstanding could result. The Apache myth is basically polytheistic, while the European immigrant version is about as monotheistic as you can get, which means that, for the Apache, definitions of right and wrong are not quite as simple, and people are often subject to the “moods” brought upon one by this or that god. (That’s not to say that they didn’t have “right” or “wrong,” or that these ideas were not as absolute as the Christian version, just that there could have been a broader array of “right” behaviors.)

The other big conflict we noticed was in the two groups’ differing attitudes towards nature. For the Apache (and many other Native Americans) the earth is a fundamentally sacred place, administered by nature-related gods that look out for humanity’s well-being, and it’s certainly not “degraded” in any way. In the Apache myth, the big flood that comes actually creates the rivers and valleys that sustain their lives. Spiders, coyotes, thunder, and other aspects of nature are actually gods that were present during the earliest stages of creation. Contrast that with the European immigrants’ myth about paradise lost (Adam and Eve cast out of the garden into a cruel, deprived world) and a flood that destroys practically the entire human civilization. You can see how the Europeans would arrive on this continent ready to “tame” it and bring it under their “civilizing” influence, while many Native Americans would be more likely to appreciate, learn from–even worship–the natural world around them.

Aaaanyway, there’s another chart for you to consider.

Remember: Your first response paper is due (in paper form) in class on Monday. The only way to get full credit for the assignment is to have it ready to hand in that day, so go to.


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