american indians


american indians

American Indians’ stories – storie di Indiani d’America

Not only Celts and British people loved telling stories. Storytelling preserved American Indian culture because also the elders (anziani) among Indian people repeated stories to grant (garantire) their history for future generations. And storytelling was the only way to transmit their culture. At first Native Americans of the east coast met the new 16th and 17th century visitors from Europe with enthusiasm. They were curious to meet other people and their intriguing (strane) novelties. Without their aid, the first waves (ondate) of settlers would not have survived in the land they knew little about.

But soon the Europeans showed greed (ingordigia) and arrogance. They wanted to conquer this new continent with brutal attacks and invasion. The Native Americans understood the invaders would arrive in great number, as many “as the stars in heaven.” They tried to co-exist with the Europeans, but the white men brought deadly diseases (malattie mortali) to the Native Americans like measles (morbillo), smallpox (vaiolo) cholera, yellow fever which drastically diminished the Native American population . In addition to this, the European greed led to the Indian Wars, the Indian Removal Act (1830), and in 1890 to the terrible massacres of Wounded Knee, South Dakota where warriors, women, and children alike were ferociously slaughtered (massacrati) by the U.S. Cavalry. The U.S, government began Relocation Programs: Native American peoples were reduced in number, taken from their homes, deprived (privati) of their customs, and forbidden to speak their native languages. During the famous march Trail of Tears hundreds of Cherokee died from starvation (morire di fame) and illnesses. The Their children were taken from them and sent to schools to “civilize” them, forced to abandon every aspect of their heritage (eredità). In January 1876, the U.S. government forced them to live on reservations where the majority of Native Americans still reside today.

Pioneers and Indians…le prime storie su pionieri e Indiani d’America

The first American settlers were called Old Comers or First Comers, only in the 18th century they started being called Pilgrims, just more than a century after the first Thanksgiving. Unlikely the usual stories with the descriptions of Indians and pioneers, they Indians wore ( wear, wore, worn: indossare) modest clothing without the big headdresses of feathers (copricapi di piume) and the settlers did not have the big black hats with buckles (fibbie) and the blunderbusses, the muskets with large-mouth barrels . The Indians lived in tenets and the settlers lived in wooden frame houses. The feast of the Thanksgiving was a spontaneous celebration: there was no official proclamation for the first Thanksgiving and the Indians weren’t invited to give “thanks” but simply to enjoy the September harvest (raccolto). Thanksgiving was proclaimed as a feats in 1676 and became a national holiday only in 1863 thanks to President Abraham Lincoln who signed a proclamation which formally established the 4th Thursday of November as the national day to give thanks.

the legendary story of Sacajawea – Sacajawea, una storia leggendaria

Sacajawea (1788 –1812) was a Shoshone Indian princess. Her people lived from the Rocky Mountains to the Plains. Their main resource (risorsa) was buffal (bufalo): they hunted on horseback (a cavallo) using the buffalo for food, clothing, homes, and tools. One day, while Sacajawea and her brother were hunting, the Minnetaree Indians attacked their Shoshone village; they killed Sacajawea’s father and captured her. Then she was sold to Charbonneau, a trapper (cacciatore) from Canada who married Sacajawea and took her to the Mandan village. One day some white men guided by Lewis and Clark arrived in the Mandan village led by the loud beating (battere) of the tom-toms. Lewis and Clark needed a guide to go West and Charbonneau said he would travel with them when the spring came. Captain Clark wanted Sacajawea to travel with the group because she spoke the Shoshone language and could ask the Shoshone Indians for horses. The Indian girl had just had a child, Pomp, and she took him with her. Sacajawea and her baby represented peace because war parties did not travel with women and children. The journey was long and difficult: the group had to face strong winds while on rivers, heavy rains in the canyons, to overcome waterfalls (cascate), and they also ran into rattlesnakes (serpenti a sonagli) and grizzly bears. When Sacajawea and her group reached her tribe, the Shoshone, she found her brother and he gave them horses for their trip west. At that point she could decide if to live with her tribe or lead the men to west. Sacajawea decided to go and she travelled with Lewis and Clark by horseback over the Rocky Mountains. Other three months passed before they reached the Pacific Ocean and there they built a fort. In the spring Sacajawea could go back to her people, she could no longer find her brother.

la vera storia di Pocahontas – Pocahontas and Captain John Smith

Pocahontas is the nickname of Matoaka, the beautiful and lively daughter of Powhatan, chief of that part of America the English then called Virginia. The meaning of Pocahontas is little wanton (scatenata) as she was hard to control. When she was born, her mother went to her own village to raise Pocahontas as it was the custom of the tribe. Then Pocahontas left her mother to go to school in her father’s capital, with her older brothers and sisters. Pocahontas was her father’s favourite, the apple of his eye. Pocahontas is famous because she saved the life of Captain John Smith. He had arrived in Virginia with about a hundred other settlers in April 1607. They had built a fort near the James River and had numerous encounters with the American Indians . In 1607 Smith was captured by a hunting party (gruppo di cacciatori) led by Powhatan’s younger brother and was going to be executed when – as Captain Smith himself wrote to Queen Anne – “… at the minute of my execution she [Pocahontas] hazarded (rischiò) the beating out of her own brains (che le fosse schiacciata la testa da un masso) to save mine; and not only that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to Jamestown”. Pocahontas really established a close (strata) friendship with Smith and the Jamestown colonists. She also saved them during a period of famine (carestia) bringing them food . Unfortunately, as the colonists expanded their settlement, conflicts arose (sorsero) between them and the Indians. In late 1609, Captain Smith was injured (ferito) by a gunpowder explosion and went back to England to be cured. The English told the American Indians that Smith was dead. Pocahontas believed and only knew the truth several years later, during a journey to England as wife of John Rolfe, a settler she had met when captured by English people. She had fallen in love with him and they had got married. Her new name was Lady Rebecca Rolfe. She gave birth to a son, Thomas. This marriage brought six years of peace between the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan’s tribes, the Peace of Pocahontas. Her tour of England was triumphant (1616), she was welcomed as a visiting princess and met King James and Queen Anne. Her portrait was made and published. But only a year after she died for an English disease (malattia) and was buried in the church at Gravesend, England. She was about 21.

American Indians

Celtic people loved telling stories and teaching children through legends. Also Native American mythology has a very rich cultural history: it was a way to keep Indian culture alive. They were not only stories, they represented their beliefs (= credi), their ways (= modi di vivere) , and their lives. They were – and sometimes still are – almost sacred for many groups of people. These stories are divided into categories. There are the “hero stories” about people who made something special and are immortalized. There are “trickster stories” (= storie di ciarlatani) , about figures who were both helpful (= utili) and dangerous (= pericolose) for their tribes. There are tales that warn (= metter in guradia) people and teach them how to behave (= comportarsi) . There are stories that could be called religious: they tell about their Gods and their Nature. Some examples of sacred animals that inspired and were the protagonists of legends.

The eagles (= aquile) were very important animals for Native American people. Their feathers(= piume) composed the war-flags (= bandire di Guerra) and war bonnets (= copricapi di Guerra) , their image was carved (= intagliata) in wood, their stuffed (= impagliata) skin surmounted the council lodges (= abitazioni del capo dove si tenevano i Consigli). For some tribes they were deities and with their feathers – which represent the four winds – they invoked the rain-god (= Dio delle Pioggia) . Indeed, it was venerated by practically every tribe in North America. The owls (= gufi) represented wisdom (= saggezza) . Some tribes used stuffed owls as symbols carried by medicine men or on the stones (= pietre) of their council lodges.

Storia della creazione

The Great Spirit, in a time not known to us, looked about and saw nothing. No colours, no beauty. Time was silent in darkness (= oscurità) . There was no sound. Nothing could be seen or felt. The Great Spirit decided to fill this space with light and life.

From his great power he commanded the sparks of creation. He ordered Tôlba, the Great Turtle (= tartaruga) to come from the waters and become the land. The Great Spirit molded (= diede forma) the mountains and the valleys on turtle’s back (= schiena) . He put white clouds into the blue skies. He was very happy. He said, “Everything is ready now. I will fill this place with the happy movement of life.” He thought and thought about what kind of creatures he would make.

Where would they live? What would they do? What would their purpose (= scopo) be? He wanted a perfect plan. He thought so hard that he became very tired and fell asleep.

His sleep was filled (= pieno) with dreams of his creation. He saw strange things in his dream. He saw animals crawling (= che camminavano) on four legs, some on two. Some creatures flew (= volavano) with wings (= ali) , some swam ( nuotavano) with fins (= pinne) . There were plants of all colours, covering the ground everywhere. Insects buzzed (= ronzavano) around, dogs barked (= abbaiavano) , birds sang, and human beings called to each other. Everything seemed out of place. The Great Spirit thought he was having a bad dream. He thought, nothing could be this imperfect.

When the Great Spirit awakened(= si svegliò) , he saw a beaver (= castoro) nibbling (= mordicchiare) on a branch (= ramo). He realized the world of his dream became his creation. Everything he dreamed about came true (= si era avverata) . When he saw the beaver make his home, and a dam (= diga) to provide (= fornire) a pond (= pozza d’acqua) for his family to swim in, he then knew every thing has it’s place, and purpose (= scopo) in the time to come.

It has been told among our people from generation to generation. We must not question our dreams. They are our creation.

In most tribes, Native American men wore breechclouts or breechcloths (fig.): it was a  long rectangular piece of cloth put over a belt (= cintura) , so that the flapsfell down in front and behind. In colder climates it  had attached leather (= pelle)leggings (= fig.) .

In some tribes men wore a short kilt or fur (= di pelliccia)  trousers. They did not usually wear shirts, but Plains Indian warriors wore special buckskin (= pelle di un tipo di cavallo) war shirts decorated with ermine tails (= code di ermellino), hair (= capelli) , and intricate decorations made of bead (= perline).

Native American women wore skirts (= gone) and leggings, with different design, and material (= stoffa)  according to the tribe. In some tribes women wore coats (= giacconi) instead of shirts , in others they wore tunics (= tuniche)  or mantles (= mantelli)  in public. The Cheyenne women used to wear  a dress.

Most tribes used cloaks (= mantelli)  in colder weather, except the northern tribes that wore fur parkas instead and most of them wore  moccasin, a strong leather shoe  or mukluk, that was a heavier boot (= stivale) even though the style varied from tribe to tribe.

Stories from the West

David “Davy” Crockett (1786 – 1835) American frontiersman (= uomo di frontiera) and politician, became a popular hero during his life. Mainly known as a hunter (= cacciatore) and a soldier, Crockett also worked for settlers (= coloni). Crockett was born in East Tennessee. At twelve, he was already driving cattle (= condusse bestiame) to Virginia, but soon he ran away from home because his father beat (= lo picchiava) him and travelled throughout Virginia. He learned to read and to write a little by himself (= da solo).

In 1806 Crockett married Mary Finely and became a farmer (= agricoltore). In 1813 the family moved to Franklin County, Tennessee. Unfortunately, shortly after some frontiersmen ambushed (= fecero un’imboscata) a band of Creek Indian warriors (= guerrieri) and the Native Americans responded attacking Fort Mims and killing over (= più di ) five hundred people. Crockett then started to serve with the frontier military forces in the fight against the Native Americans as a scout and a hunter (= cacciatore). In 1815, after his second marriage, Crockett contracted malaria, and was thought dead, but he came back to his family. He worked as a justice of the peace, as county commissioner and as lieutenant colonel (= tenente colonnello) of the local military regiment. In 1821 Crockett campaigned ( = fece una campagna) for a seat (= posto) in the state legislature: he was seen as the settlers’ spokesman (= portavoce). In 1823 Crockett was elected to the Tennessee legislature. In 1827 he won a seat in the U.S. Congress and was re-elected twice. He fought against Native American removal (= rimozione) and land policy. In 1834 he published his autobiography, A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee. In 1835 Crockett moved to Texas looking for new land. Crockett joined (= si unì) Texans in their fight to defend Fort Alamo against a Mexican army and died during the siege (= assedio). Crockett’s death made him a hero: the stories said that he was the last to resist (= resitere all’attacco). He is usually described as a very tall man, with brown hair, blue eyes, and rosy cheeks (= guance rosee, famous for his humour and his honesty, and a very good public speaker.

americani e indiani – interscambio di costumi

Native American clothing depended on the area they lived. America Indian hairstyle (= stile di acconciatura) varied. We usually think of them with feathered eagle-feather warbonnet (= copricapo da guerra con piume d’aquila), by their headdress (= copricapo) depended on the tribes or clans they belonged to(= a cui appartenevano) . There was not a Native American haircut but a Blackfoot haircut, a Cherokee haircut etc. Feathered war bonnets are still the best-known Indian headdresses, but they were not the most commonly used.Moreover, after colonization, native American clothing began to change. The different tribes started living together in the lands they were forced to move (= verso le quali furono obbligati a trasferirsi) and they began borrowing

(= a prendere a prestito) some of each other’s tribal dress. They also started adapting European costumes to their own styles decorating clothing and garments with their beadwork, embroidery, and designs (= ornamenti con perle, ricami e disegni) .

Also white men borrowed clothing from the Native Americans. The Buckskins, for example, derive from deerskin (= pelle di daino) clothing worn (= to wear, ; indossato) by Native Americans. They consists of a jacket and leggings, made from buckskin, a softsueded leather (= pella scamosciata) from the hide (= cuoio) of deer (= cervo) or elk (= alce). They usually have a fringe (= frangia). The fringes were used as a series of wicks (= scoli) that dispersed the water and permitted the garment (= il vestito) to dry faster (= asciugarsi) when it was wet (= umido).

They were popular with mountain men and other frontiersmen (= uomini di frontiera) for their warmth and durability (= durata) and they became in fashion during the 1970s.

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