Narrative Desire and Textual Consummation in Haida, Tlingit, and Northern-Dene Textualized Orature: A Critical Review Essay on Narrative Revitalization
Abstract: Associated with the rubric of desire and consummation are four interrelated challenges for the critical interpretation of oral narratives transformed into printed texts: the boundaries of the discursive (presence and absence), the recursive (orality and literacy), the ontological (animality and humanity), and the metaphysical (reincarnation and rewriting) that occur in the collaborations I examine in this review article of oral-literary methodologies and ideologies. I focus on better-known and lesser-known key examples from Haida, Tlingit, and northern-Dene orature as culturally and linguistically defined bodies of oral literature that follow from two interconnections between them: the bioregional and the bibliographical. By comparing essentially Modern conditions for interpretive uncertainty with interpretive cues found in the stories themselves, through a critical review of the colonial and decolonial poetics of orature, I argue that cross-border ways of thinking with these stories may enact narrative revitalization (cf. Spencer, “Telling Animals”; “The Soundscape”) through the circulation of meaning as “desire” and as “consummation.”
Keywords: Indigenous languages and literatures; textualized orature; Indigenous epistemologies; decolonial semiotics; comparative poetics
Boas, Franz. “Some Philological Aspects of Anthropological Research.” A Franz Boas Reader: The Shaping of American Anthropology, 1883-1911, edited by George W. Stocking, Jr., Basic, 1974, pp. 183-88.
Briggs, Charles L., and Richard Bauman. “Genre, Intertextuality, and Social Power.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, vol. 2, no. 2, 1992, pp. 131-72. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.1918.104.22.168
Bringhurst, Robert. Ocean, Paper, Stone: The Catalogue of an Exhibition of Printed Objects Which Chronicles More Than a Century of Literary Publishing in British Columbia. Hoffer, 1984.
Bringhurst, Robert. A Story As Sharp As a Knife: The Classical Mythtellers and Their World. Douglas, 1999.
Brody, Hugh. Maps and Dreams: Indians and the British Columbia Frontier. Pantheon, 1982.
Chamberlin, J. Edward. “Hunting, Tracking and Reading.” Literacy, Narrative and Culture, edited by Jens Brockmeier, Min Wang, and David R. Olson, Routledge, 2002, pp. 67-85.
Chamberlin, J. Edward. “Klahowya Tillicum: Coming Home to the Stories and Songs of the West Coast.” 26 Feb. 2009, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. Printed Lecture.
Cruikshank, Julie. “Preface.” Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders, by Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, Annie Ned, and Julie Cruikshank, U of British Columbia P, 1990, pp. ix-xii.
Cruikshank, Julie. The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory. 1998. U of Nebraska P, 2000.
Dauenhauer, Nora Marks, and Richard Dauenhauer, editors. Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories. U of Washington P, 1994.
Dauenhauer, Nora Marks, and Richard Dauenhauer, editors. Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors: Tlingit Oral Narratives. U of Washington P,
Dauenhauer, Nora Marks, and Richard Dauenhauer, editors. Haa Tuwunáagu Yís, for Healing Our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory. U of
Washington P, 1991.
Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” Writing and Difference, 1967, translated by Alan Bass, Routledge, 1978, pp. 278-94.
Doig River First Nation. Dane Wajich, Dane-zaa Stories and Songs: Dreamers of the Land. Virtual Museum of Canada, 2007.
Eastman, Carol, and Elizabeth Edwards. Gyaehingaay: Traditions, Tales and Images of the Kaigani Haida. U of Washington P, 1991.
Enrico, John. Haida Dictionary: Skidegate, Masset, and Alaskan Dialects. Alaska Native Language Center, 2005.
Enrico, John. Skidegate Haida Myths and Histories. Queen Charlotte Islands Museum, 1995.
Enrico, John, and Wendy Bross Stuart. Northern Haida Songs. U of Nebraska P, 1996.
Fee, Margery. “Romantic Nationalism and the Image of Native People in Contemporary English-Canadian Literature.” The Native in Literature: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives, edited by Thomas King et al., ECW, 1987, pp. 15-33.
Fredson, John. Stories Told by John Fredson to Edward Sapir, edited by Jane McGary, Alaska Native Language Center, 1982.
Ghandl. Nine Visits to the Mythworld: Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas. Translated by Robert Bringhurst, Douglas, 2000.
Geertz, Clifford. Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. Stanford UP, 1988.
Gingell, Susan. “Teaching the Talk that Walks on Paper: Oral Traditions and Textualised Orature in the Canadian Classroom.” Home-Work: Postcolonialism, Pedagogy, and Canadian Literature, edited by Cynthia Sugars, U of Ottawa P, 2004, pp. 285-300.
Goulet, Jean-Guy. “Reincarnation as a Fact of Life among Contemporary Dene Tha.” Amerindian Rebirth: Reincarnation Belief Among North American Indians and Inuit, edited by Antonia Curtze Mills and Richard Slobodin, U of Toronto P, 1994, pp. 156-76. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442670761-013
Goulet, Jean-Guy. “Ways of Knowing: Towards a Narrative Ethnography of Experiences among the Dene Tha.” Journal of Anthropological Research, vol. 50, no. 2, 1994, pp. 113-39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/jar.50.2.3630452
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. “The Golden Key.” Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. 1812-1857. Translated and edited by Jack Zipes, 3rd ed., Bantam, 1992, p. 582.
Harpham, Geoffrey Galt. “Roots, Races, and the Return to Philology.” The Humanities and the Dream of America. U of Chicago P, 2011, pp. 43-79. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226317014.003.0003
Kalifornsky, Peter. K’tl’egh’I Sukdu: A Dena’ina Legacy. Alaska Native Language Center, 1991.
Kroeber, Karl. “Interview with Karl Kroeber.” The Dispatch: The Newsletter of the Center for American Culture Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 1987, pp. 5-8.
Lowie, Robert H. Chipewyan Tales. American Museum of Natural History, 1912.
Mandeville, François. Chipewyan Texts. Translated by Li Fanggui and Ronald Scollon, Academia Sinica, 1976.
Mandeville, François. This Is What They Say: A Story Cycle Dictated in Northern Alberta in 1928. Translated by Ronald Scollon, Douglas, 2009.
McCall, Sophie. First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship. U of British Columbia P, 2011.
Mignolo, Walter D. “The Enduring Enchantment: (Or the Epistemic Privilege of Modernity and Where to Go from Here).” The South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 101, no. 4, 2002, pp. 927-54. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-101-4-927
Mills, Antonia. “A Preliminary Investigation of Cases of Reincarnation among the Beaver and Gitksan Indians.” Anthropologica, vol. 30, no. 1, 1988, pp. 23-59. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/25605246
Moore, Patrick, editor. Dene Gudeji: Kaska Narratives. Kaska Tribal Council, 1999.
Moore, Patrick, and Angela Wheelock, editors. Wolverine Myths and Visions: Dene Traditions from Northern Alberta. U of Alberta P, 1990.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody. 1885. Translated by Graham Parkes, Oxford UP, 2005.
Nyman, Elizabeth, and Jeff Leer. Gágiwduł.àt, Brought Forth to Reconfirm: The Legacy of a Taku River Tlingit Clan. Yukon Native Language Centre, 1993.
Peters, Tom. “The Woman Who Married the Bear.” Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors: Tlingit Oral Narratives, edited by Nora Marks Dauenhauer and Richard Dauenhauer, U of Washington P, 1987, pp. 166-217.
Ridington, Robin. Swan People: A Study of the Dunne-za Prophet Dance. National Museum of Man, 1978. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv16spb
Ridington, Robin. “Dogs, Snares, and Cartridge Belts: The Poetics of a Northern Athapaskan Narrative Technology.” When You Sing It Now, Just Like New: First Nations Poetics, Voices, and Representations, edited by Robin Ridington and Jillian Ridington, U of Nebraska P, 2006, pp. 188-206.
Ridington, Robin. “Tools in the Mind: Northern Athapaskan Ecology, Religion, and Technology.” When You Sing It Now, Just Like New: First Nations Poetics, Voices, and Representations, edited by Robin Ridington and Jillian Ridington, U of Nebraska P, 2006, pp. 206-20.
Ridington, Robin, and Jillian Ridington in collaboration with Elders of the Dane-zaa First Nations. Where Happiness Dwells: A History of the Dane-zaa First Nations. U of British Columbia P, 2013.
Skaay. Being in Being: The Collected Works of Skaay of the Qquuna Qiighawaay. Translated by Robert Bringhurst, Douglas, 2001.
Skaay. Siixha, Floating Overhead: The Qquuana Cycle 3.3, Translated by Robert Bringhurst, Russell Maret, 2007.
Spencer, Jasmine. “Telling animals: A histology of Dene textualized orature.” 2017. U of British Columbia, PhD dissertation.
Spencer, Jasmine. “Orality, literacy and the translator: A case study in Haida translation.” Translation Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, 2018, pp. 298-314. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14781700.2017.1417156
Spencer, Jasmine. “The soundscape as the transformatrice in some Dene songs and stories.” Semiotica, forthcoming.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman, Columbia UP, 1994, pp. 66-111.
Swanton, John Reed. Haida Texts and Myths, Skidegate Dialect. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office, 1905.
Swanton, John Reed. Tlingit Myths and Texts, Recorded by John R. Swanton. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office, 1909.
Tyone, Mary (Ts’ą̈’ Yahnik). Ttheek’ädn Ut’iin Yaaniidą’ Ǫǫnign’: Old Time Stories of the Scottie Creek People. Alaska Native Language Center, 1996.
Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo Batalha. Exchanging Perspectives: The Transformation of Objects into Subjects in Amerindian Ontologies.” Common Knowledge, vol. 10, no. 3, 2004, pp. 463-84. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-10-3-463
Vizenor, Gerald. “Aesthetics of Survivance: Literary Theory and Practice.” Survivance: Narratives of Native Presence, edited by Gerald Vizenor, U of Nebraska P, 2008, pp. 1-23.
Williams, William Proctor, and Craig S. Abbott. Introduction to Bibliographical and Textual Studies. 2nd ed., MLA, 1989.
Zipes, Jack. The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World. 2nd ed., Palgrave, 2002. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-09873-3
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.