- How is the importance of the oral tradition, as it applies to the history of Indigenous Peoples, demonstrated through the origin stories shared in this chapter?
Answer: One of the best ways to understand a culture is through its stories. By examining both the unique and more universal aspects of these stories, we can learn about how Indigenous Peoples understood the world around them, how they built relationship with the land and resources, and the ways in which they identified the necessities of life. We are also able to gain some understanding of how their worldview was passed on from one generation to the next. As corroborated by the ethnohistorical record, these stories also help to document the physical history and origins of Indigenous Peoples.
- Describe the roles and functions of origin stories in Indigenous societies.
Answer: Origin stories help cultures to make sense of the world around them and relationship with it. These stories teach lessons about the world and its necessities. In addition to hearing lessons within the stories, listeners also learn about how that knowledge is transmitted. They also served the purpose of entertaining and amusing their listeners.
- Discuss changes in approach to Indigenous history as an academic field.
Answer: With the incorporation of the ethnographic historical method, which includes Indigenous oral traditions, archaeology and etymology, non-Indigenous written records about Indigenous history are no longer privileged. Additionally, the growing presence of Indigenous scholars are transforming the field given their greater knowledge of Indigenous cultures, languages and oral traditions. These scholars are helping to correct non-Indigenous assumptions about the history. The field of Indigenous history is also now augmented by the increasing number of Indigenous language courses at institutions, a recognition of language as key to cultural knowledge.