Native American Poetry
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Native American poetry is a broad category of literature that includes the written and spoken words of countless numbers of people who, prior to the colonization of North America by the Europeans, inhabited the continent. These individuals, and their modern day decedents who follow the traditions of Native American lifestyle, classified themselves into a large number of diverse tribes each with their own unique cultural heritage.
Despite the tremendous amount of diversity seen within the Native American group, basic characteristics of their poetic literature are relatively universal. Native American poetry can be considered within the same genre as hymns, chants, or other song-like literary constructions as they are typically performed in a group setting and their recitation is often accompanied by the use of drums or other musical instruments.
Native American poetry also relies heavily on the repetition of specific words and phrases, and, through this repetition, it creates complex verses consisting of rhyming thoughts rather than sounds. Like medieval epic poems, the religious beliefs, cultural practices, and moral expectations of a specific tribe are frequently passed to successive generations through the use of poetry. Unlike most Western poems, which are typically written using a past or presence tense, Native American poetry is usually written in the future tense demonstrating an ongoing connection between the speaker, their spoken words, and the progression of time.