Department Chair

Dr. Ralph L. Wahlstrom, Associate Professor of English

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.


English Department


Charles Bachman, Ph.D., Professor of English

Department Home page

First Reader

Charles Bachman, Ph.D., Professor of English

Second Reader

Jennifer D. Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English


The act of storytelling provides a connection between the spiritual and physical spheres, and the Haudenosaunee people (more commonly recognized as Iroquois) utilize the oral narrative to convey the most sacred truths of their culture. In focusing primarily upon animals and animal beings, one can recognize the deep reverence traditional tribal members feel toward animals as certain legends seek to unite individuals with the spirits, personalities, and bodies of such creatures in narrative form. Too often animals are overlooked as “lesser” beings, yet in legends of the Iroquois they possess potent orenda (great power) that can help one achieve success through their specialized abilities. It is only through the exploration of such tales that one can understand the transcendental link with the animal world which elicits great feelings of affection, wonder, awe, and even fear for the People of the Longhouse. It is the combination of these sentiments that inspires great animal beings which manifest themselves as constructive and good, or unearths monstrosities which use otgont or destructive power that endangers humans within the sacred stories that bring them to life.