The foundation of American literature begins with the orally transmitted myths, legends,tales,and lyrics (always songs) of Indian cultures. Native American oral tradition is quite diverse.Indian stories glow with reverence for nature as a spiritual, as a well as physical, mother. Nature is alive and endowed with spiritual forces;main characters may be animals or plants, often totems associated With a tribe,group, or individuals.
The Indians contribution to America is greater than is often believed. The hundreds of Indians words in everyday American English include “canoe,tobacco,potato, moccasin, persimmon, raccoon, tomahawk, and totem”. Contemporary Native America is writing also contains works of great beauty.
The first European record of exploration in America is a Scandinavian language. The old Norse vinland saga recounts how the adventurous Leif Eriksson and a band of wandering Norsemen settled briefly somewhere on the northeast coast of America probably Nova Scotia, in Canada in the first decade of the 11th century.
The first known and sustained contact between the Americas and the rest of the world,however, began with the famous voyages of an Italian explorer,Christopher Columbus, funded by the Queen of spain,Isabella. Columba’s journal in his ” Epistola”, printed in 1493,recounts the trip’s drama.
Initial English attempts at colonization were disasters. The first colony was set up in 1585 at Roanoke, off the coast of north Carolina; all its colonists disappeared. The second colony was more permanent: Jamestown,established in 1607. It endured starvation, brutality, and misrule.