“The Truth About Stories is that is all we are” Thomas King
“All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind,” Richard Wagamese
- What is story?
- What does it mean to work with story from an Indigenous perspective?
- How can Indigenous story be used in a classroom?
- How might educators find authentic Indigenous story resources?
What is story?
Indigenous peoples have ways of knowing and worldviews that are distinct from Eurocentric/Western knowledge systems. Indigenous knowledge is the accumulated, embedded, and collective knowledge of generations of interactions within local environments. As educators we explore forms of Indigenous knowledge and learning processes and integrate indigenous content, perspectives and knowledge into the curriculum and pedagogical approaches (looking, listening, doing. Knowledge is transmitted across the generations through experiential and intergenerational learning, storytelling, land-based learning, and through languages. These pedagogies play an important role in curriculum and teaching.
What does it mean to work with story from an Indigenous perspective?
There are Indigenous stories that can be used in public situations, that can be used in learning spaces and places. There are some Indigenous stories that are only meant for the community from which they come. There are stories that come from a millennia of oral tradition. And there are stories written from modern Indigenous voice and perspective. Archibald (2008) encourages us as educators to work within the seven principles of storywork: respect, responsibility, reverence, reciprocity, holism, interrelatedness, and holism. SOME RESOURCES: FNESC resources. First Peoples Principles of Learning. Video Links (From the BC MInistry of Education: Continuing our Learning Journey: Indigenous Education in BC). Thomas King Massey Lectures: The Truth About Stories
How can Indigenous story be used in a classroom?
There are many ways to work with Indigenous Story in classroom spaces and places. A first step would be to consult with the Indigenous Education staff in your school or district to see if there is protocol in place for working with Indigenous communities and community members. Is there a District Indigenous Education resource library? There may be connections with Local Nations in place with the district or with Indigenous Knowledge Holders and Story Tellers in the community. This is a start to the many ways of working with Indigenous Story
How might educators find authentic Indigenous story resources?
There are many available resources online created by Indigenous communities for teachers to use:
- FNESC provides a list of First Peoples Authentic Resources.
- Sara Florence Davidson provides insight into ‘Evaluating Indigenous Education Resources for Classroom Use’ (pp. 22-23) and talks through the elements of storywork according to Archibald (2008).
- Strong Nations is an Indigenous owned and operated online book and gift store and publishing house.
Post Author, Jesse Halton
Video created for EDUC 440 Aboriginal Education in Canada, Rural and Remote Teacher Education program, UBC
With thanks to contributors including the Indigenous Education Circle, Jesse Halton, Bonny-Lynn Donovan, Megan Read, and Denise Flick.
Archibald, J. (2008). Indigenous storywork: Educating the heart, mind, body, and spirit. UBC Press