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Section 4: Infuse – Building an Indigenized Practice

Reciprocal Exchanges as an Ally, Advocate, and Supporter

 

As Indigenous People, it is not our responsibility to do all the education. However, our allies need to be kind to themselves, take care of themselves, and receive support, so that they too can continue their important work of helping to educate others.

– Baskin (2016, p. 111)

Throughout this guide we talk about connecting and building relationships; this also applies within your institution and field of study as you examine ways to Indigenize and decolonize and reconcile histories, perspectives, and pedagogies. One of the most powerful Indigenous pedagogies to engage with is storytelling:

 

In the forward to Potlatch [1969], George Clutesi tells us: “This narrative is not meant to be documentary. In fact it is meant to evade documents. It is meant for the reader to feel and to say I was there and indeed I saw.” The power of the storyteller to make the listeners/readers visualize events and feel like they are part of the story is a principle that I have heard from others … Mr. Clutesi was a very respected orator, artist, and educator. His legacy of knowledge, wisdom, and philosophy has been left to those who take the time and effort to learn from his teachings.

– Archibald (2008, p. 21)

Drawing meaning from and connecting the story with yourself transforms the way you see and respond to past events. Indigenous storytelling places us in a timeframe through which we can experience with clarity. Where settler narrative is absent or lost, Indigenous narrative provides another way of looking at our shared history.

A recent example of holding both narratives together is the “rediscovery” of the Franklin expedition ships. Inuit historian Louie Kamookak worked for 30 years gathering and remembering the oral history based on a story he heard as a youth (O’Connor, 2018). Inuit oral history recounted where the ships and crew were last seen, and these accounts stretch back to the time of the expedition in 1845. “If you take Inuit oral history and combine it with modern science, that’s when the breakthrough comes” (Worrell, 2017). Archaeologists, historians, and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society combined their knowledge with Inuit oral history to locate the ships. While the reasons for the expedition were political, the relationships developed were genuine.