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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A wealth of stories and writings originated from the arrival of European strangers to North America, specifically the moments of “first contact,” when Indigenous people and newcomers encountered each other for the first time. First contacts were moments of danger and possibility, without shared understandings or common language. As literature and mythology, the narratives are potent with symbol and metaphor, mystery and possibility. As history, they have tremendous power, even though mediated, edited, and retold from different perspectives. Whether preserved in writing by Europeans, or in oral tradition by Indigenous peoples, the stories have been subject to change over time, reflecting their transmission as culturally constructed discourses, shaped by multiple and shifting motivations and purposes. Yet the narratives have survived, and when collected and compared, communicate much about these seminal events and their meanings.

Keywords: Indigenous peoples, North America, first contact, Indigenous narratives, mythology

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