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Alaska Native Oral Tradition

Tlingit society is characterized by ownership and reciprocity. Songs, stories, designs, personal names, and land are considered the real property of particular clans. The form and content of oral tradition are set in a context of reciprocity of "balance." The two moieties (or divisions) of the Tlingit people, Eagle and Raven, balance each other. Their members address love songs and most oratory to each other, and in host-guest relationships at feasts share in each other’s joy and work to remove each other’s' grief. A song or speech must be answered- not competitively, but only that it not "wander aimlessly." Speeches and stories contain ...

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