Saturday, September 09, 2006

"Attack of the Mammoth"

Attack of the Mammoth is a Native American Myth from long ago. It's quite powerful.


Ralph said...

Dr. Dee:
I think I may need to discuss this with you, as I'm not quite feeling the power of this myth. Some insight would be appreciated.



DocTorDee said...

Well, first of all, the study of Native American myths has faced many obstacles because it is an oral tradition. When you combine that with the fact that Native American tribes were essentially exterminated by the white man, then it becomes a pleaseure for me to read ANY Native American myth (although more of them are being resurrected).

Second, it is widely believed that mammoths actually roamed the earth at the same time as humans, so this myth could be really, really old. The thought of a creature, larger than an elephant, roaming the North American continent, killing humans from time to time, is indeed scary. As a person who roams the North American woods quite frequently, I can't help but reflect on the terror that something of this size and demeanor could provoke.

Two other aspects: First, I like the way the woman was portrayed. Her way of knowing is correct, while the husband, in his pride, dismisses the threat too easily. This is not a standard motif in Western culture and it points to a time where women's knowledge was valued.

The second aspect is the boy. He is the one who steps forward in time of trouble and saves the kingdom. This is a standard motif, but I still like it. Sometimes it's time to step up and take the heat, and this boy does it.

Overall, I was struck by the fact that this story might not be just a myth, but might have actually happened. This story represents a line for me...a line where myth meets news story, and for that reason, I found it compelling.

I also really liked the part where the woman was fearful of the beast as she walked back to her home. I don't think most of us can imagine what it feels like to fear for our lives...and as a result, we have lost something in terms of appreciating the power of the universe.

I guess that's it.


Ralph said...


Good point about the woman's character in the myth. I could identify with the scaredness and the dismissiveness by the husband. I would say my relationship with my wife often has a similar dynamic, and this is a good lesson not to be so dismissive of her fears.

Got it.