Most early Native American literature is involved with explaining how nature works or man’s connection with the land. Their stories often reflected how they treated the land and their culture surrounding it. There stories share similar characteristics with stories told later in time.
Early Native American stories were passed orally and were changed between tribes. They didn’t write them down and therefore were changed depending on the narrator. This resulted in different translations of the same story in different regions. Then Native American literature that was introduced in the 18th and 19th century was showing the transition from oral stories and legends that were passed down to the written word. The stories were mostly written in English. This was in large part to the teachings of missionaries in mission schools across the lands. Most of the writers wrote autobiographies mixed in with common Early Native American narratives. These narratives included things such as trickster tales, hero initiation, symbolic landmarks and mythology, and oral tradition.
Trickster tales is a common trope in early Native American literature. Tricksters were often mean spirited. These stories can be told for entertainment or sacred purposes. An example of a trickster tale told for entertainment purposes is “Trickster and the Talking Bulb”. In this story a trickster is told by a bulb that he would defecate if he were to eat it. He didn’t believe it and it ended up being true. He even uses this newfound ability to terrorize a nearby town by telling them that they should pack up their lodges and leave because a war party was approaching. He then used his gas to send them flying. This is an example of a trickster tale showing the relation of man and the land. It describes a natural occurrence through a tall tale with anthropomorphic characters. Anthropomorphic characters are often used in these stories. This one included the trees and the talking bulb are both used
Oral Traditions such as song and repetition were used in Native American literature. Poetry was often and may have been written for performances and involve instruments and refrains.