Discussion 2

In the Native Voices installment of the film series, American Passages: A Literary Survey, both Greg Sarris and Simon Ortiz discuss the nature of a written oral tradition as a re-creation of tradition.  In essence, this work is a bicultural contact zone—the place where languages and cultural contexts meet to remember, as Ortiz says, for more than simply nostalgic purposes.  This is for the purpose of continuance.

Recommended Group Size:    Medium to Large (enough for at least 2 people per assigned concept)

Exercise Objectives:

  1. Encourage consideration of how the concepts found in Luci Tapahonso’s work might apply personally
  2. Experience translating personal concepts into another medium of expression with specific boundaries


  1. One sheet of paper per group with one of the concepts below printed in the center of the page
  2. Pens, pencils, markers or some other writing utensils
  3. Chalk or easel board to record important conversation points

Concepts in relation to Luci Tapahonso's work:

Continuance/Survivance Language/Performative
Remembering Place/Landscape Every Day Sacredness
  Cultural Contact Zones  


  1. Divide the group according to the number of concepts chosen from the list above.
  2. Randomly give each group a sheet of paper pre-labeled with one of the concepts above.
  3. As a team, the group is to draw the images, tastes, smells, touches and other sensations that come to mind when thinking of these concepts.  Very little to no conversation is allowed.  No words other than the pre-printed information should appear on the page.  (10 min.)
  4. Each team chooses one person to report back to the larger group the following (2 min./group):
    1.   The assigned concept
    2.   The group’s decisions about what was important to record about that concept
    3.   Any major objections raised about the choices within the group
    1. As a larger group, discuss the following, recording major points for the class or group. (10 min.)
      1.   The patterns of major themes throughout the concepts—what shows up regularly?
      2.   The level of ease translating from sensory experience to 2-D drawing then to oral—what gets left out?  Do the important themes come through?
      3.   How is the original information transformed in this process?
  5. May 11, 2011