Stories give the universe meaning

Not that I'm that surprised, but within hours of me leaving here yesterday my internet connection crashed, leaving me with over 9,000 emails to download. About 4,000 of those appear to be reports on a particularly massive dictionary attack that was launched after I left (coincidentally I believe; those attacks are pretty much non-stop).

Anyway, I've been reading a lot of books about aboriginal story telling to help me with the scripting of SAVED (which thanks to Mandy Moore I'm going to have to rename). There's an abstract sense to a lot of northern story telling that revolves in part about describing states of being or ideas more so that a “plot” — this is where my interest lies. But to get back to my point, I wanted to recount a story that really touched me.

This takes place in northern British Columbia (ie. the west coast of Canada). When the Canadian government showed up, like it always does, they told the Gitksan natives who had lived there for thousands of years, “this is our land, we'll need to move you to a reservation.” The native elders replied,

“If this is your land, where are your stories?”

The Gitksan went on to take the Canadian government to court to save their homeland. Because they didn't build cities, or have a written language, even though “everyone knew” they'd been the inhabitants of that land for millenia, it was difficult for them to legally prove it. All they could do is bring all the elders of the trial to stand trial — where they sang. They sang the hundreds of songs and legends they had about the land that was their home.

The courts declared their stories legally worthless and continue to strip them of their home.


Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *