The Value of Story Telling?


In the chapter entitled “My Father”, Niska describes her father as such:

He was the last great talker in our clan. He told stories softly so that you had to lean close to him and hear, so close you could smell the smoke in the hide ribbon my mother weaved into his hair, the scent of his neck like the wind coming off the Great Salt Bay. I used to imagine that he weaved his stories all summer, his words forming invisible nets that he cast over us on the long winter nights, capturing us and pulling us in closer so that we collected each other’s warmth. And sometimes his stories were all that we had to keep us alive.

What does this say about story telling and oral history? How is western story telling different, if at all?

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3 thoughts on “The Value of Story Telling?

  1. This says that oral history is almost alive, and that it is not something that is studied but a part of culture, making it personal. In comparison, western history seems to be passed along only in books for study, it is not something that we can relate to and that it is only knowledge for us. Not to say that one is better than the other, but that the two have different purposes.

  2. Oral history allows us to record events in history and experience them with more emotion and depth. Oral histories offer layers of information and detail that is often much richer than what any written history can offer. The use of language is an important aspect in understanding oral history because we can examine different cultures and ways of life through subtle face movements and speaking voices. In the novel, Three Day Road, oral history is cherish and viewed as a means of story telling that is passed on from generation to generation. The main characters in the novel, Xavier and Elijah, see oral history as a part or their culture and a means of survive in some cases. This shows that oral history reveals cultures and individuals by presenting oral commentary of events, and feelings of individuals. All history is jaded by interpretation, but oral history makes no pretenses about being subjective. Its subjectivity is its strength.Western story telling is different because it focuses less on spirituality, and more on courage and battle. The more people that are killed and the more battles won, the better. Also many settlers came to the eastern part of Canada first, which means that stories date back further than western stories. Oral histories allow the language of an individual and a culture to be manifest. They are engaging, significant commentaries about the past from a deeply individual perspective.

  3. Aboriginals use storytelling as a way to record their history. Oral history is their traditional way of documenting important events so that they are not forgotten and are past on through generations, much like how we document events through written history. This does not mean that our written history is more accurate or reliable, since the writer's biases and personal opinions will also affect the way that it is told. Both oral and written history are simply interpretations of the events that took place and neither should be seen as a better source for factual information.One noteworthy difference though is that through Aboriginal oral history, often there is an important lesson/moral to be learned from the stories passed on. Where as, in Western written history, often only the information is conveyed through the text… and therefore we are more prone to make the same mistakes over and over again throughout history without learning from our past.

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