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Native Traditions, Past and Present

How can we know anything about prehistoric cultures when written language did not exist to pass information along to succeeding generations? Cherokees Freeman Owle, a stone carver, Amanda Swimmer, a potter, and Driver Pheasant, a storyteller know how. They teach their art and stories to the next generation, passing down cultural traditions so they will survive. Clearly, nature forms the basis for many Native American traditions as young Cherokees learn how their lives are connected to the natural environment. Because there are so many stereotypes about American Indians, viewers are advised to seek the truth about them by visiting museums or reservations.

Teacher Tip: Because this segment illustrates the timeless way culture has always been passed from generation to generation, use it as a springboard to discuss how Native American culture has been kept alive and what factors would account for it changing.