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  • Writer's pictureSink Hollow

Storytelling Transcending Generations

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

By Will Clark

Stories, in oral traditions, are the way histories, cultural practices, and lifeways are handed down and expanded upon. In this way, stories are the mechanism for passing down memories, and people’s perspectives. This is especially important when dominating paradigms and institutions ignore aspects of histories and marginalized group’s lives. Joann Archibald’s text Indigenous storywork: Educating the heart, mind, body, and spirit describes: “authority emanating from the mainstream critical center to the marginalized text”. Placement of stories within the cultural narrative of indigenous groups then becomes an imperative solution to the problem of: “stories shaped to fit a Western literate form, and stories adapted to fit a predominantly Western education system.” (Archibald).

All histories are told from perspectives unique to the teller. Northern American literature is often dominated by western storytelling mechanisms and aspects of the colonial institution. Western paradigms have often been considered the norm in many fields, knowledge or histories are often not considered valid if they don’t originate from western ideas. This is a case for representation, but also diverse narrative control.

Stories being forcibly adapted and taken from their original narrative by dominating institutions (and then stitched into western paradigms) can create a western illusion of that group, a harmful depiction of indigenous peoples which is fictitious and created around the stereotypes and imaginations of the colonial power. Stories and representation need then to come from a place of diverse narrative control and cultural reconciliation for Native peoples.

Archibald, Jo-ann. Indigenous storywork: Educating the heart, mind, body, and spirit. UBC press, 2008.

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