Desana Mythology: Oral Indigenous Literature

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Abstract

Mythic narrative in an indigenous community is not only an end in itself. It elaborates an interpretive discourse about the world, a shared past, and a common pattern of behavior. Among the Desana of the Brazilian Amazon, mythology serves two purposes: It is a basis for reinforcing a lifestyle and a means of resisting encroachments on the tribe's identity. The author worked with two members of the Desana tribe, rewriting the final draft of their anthology of tribal myths, a book that attempts to preserve the Desana mythology and ethnic heritage.

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