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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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1. Native Voices   

1. Native Voices

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Activities: Author Activities

Chippewa Songs - Author Questions

Back Back to Chippewa Songs Activities
  1. Comprehension: Musicologist Frances Densmore claims that the Chippewa love songs are "comparatively modern songs, which represent a transitional culture." Where do you see aspects of tra-ditional Chippewa culture in these songs? Where do you see European American influences?

  2. Comprehension: What is the tone of each of the songs? How does the tone compare to love songs you hear on the radio?

  3. Comprehension: Why are there several Chippewa songs about Sioux women? What do Sioux women represent?

  4. Context: Compare the more whimsical Chippewa love songs to the more ceremonial Ghost Dance songs. What rhythmic or linguistic clues help the reader know that the Ghost Dance songs are more serious in nature?

  5. Context: How are women represented in the songs? To what extent are these representations consonant with traditional Western stereotypes about women, and to what extent do they challenge those stereotypes?

  6. Context: Compare the vision of love presented in the Chippewa love songs with that in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine or The Bingo Palace. What does Lipsha mean by love?

  7. Exploration: During the Renaissance, the Italian poet Petrarch refined a series of conceits that came to epitomize the way Western poets talked about the beloved. These include the idea of love as a battle or hunt, the power of the beloved's gaze being like a ray, the beauty of the beloved's person being like flowers or jewels, and the comparison of the beloved to a sun or star. Identify and examine Chippewa love conventions.

  8. Exploration: Love is often depicted as a battle or hunt, in which the true test of passion comes in the pursuit. Compare the tension between the singer and the beloved in English poet Thomas Wyatt's "Whoso List to Hunt" and Chippewa poet Louise Erdrich's "Jacklight."

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