Aboriginal Oral Traditions

Theory, Practice, Ethics

Edited by Renate Eigenbrod and Renée Hulan  

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Oral traditions are a distinct way of knowing and the means by which knowledge is reproduced, preserved and transferred from generation to generation. The conference from which these essays were selected created an opportunity for people to come together and exchange information and experiences over three days. The scholarship may be grouped into three broad areas: oral traditions and knowledge of the environment, economy, education and/or health of communities; oral traditions and continuance of language and culture; and the effects of intellectual property rights, electronic media and public discourse on oral traditions.

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  • Great Plains Research

  • “…offers concrete suggestions for encouraging the proliferation of Indigenous languages, stories, and authorship among the public and academics. These are lessons that no one can afford to ignore.”

    — Madelaine Morrison (Carleton University) (full review)


  • Preface: Oral History and Oral Traditions (Stephen J. Augustine)
  • Introduction: A Layering Of Voices: Aboriginal Oral Traditions (Renée Hulan and Renate Eigenbrod)
  • The Assault on Aboriginal Oral Traditions: Past and Present (Andrea Bear Nicholas)
  • Silas T. Rand’s Work Among the Mi’kmaq (Stephen J. Augustine)
  • The Little Boy Who Lived with Muini’skw (Bear Woman) (Catherine Martin)
  • Conflicts, Discourse, Negotiations and Proposed Solutions Regarding Transformations of Traditional Knowledge (Greg Young-Ing)
  • A Bad Connection: First Nations Oral Histories in the Canadian Courts (Drew Mildon)
  • Amplified Voices: Rebecca Belmore’s Reinvention of Recording Technologies in the Transmission of Aboriginal Oral Traditions (Sophie McCall)
  • Fighting with Our Tongues, Fighting for Our Lives: Talk, Text and Amodernity in Warlpiri Women’s Voices: Our Lives, Our History (Michèle Grossman)
  • Voices Heard in the Silence
  • History Held in the Memory: Ways of Knowing Jeannette Armstrong’s ‘Threads of Old Memory’ (Tasha Hubbard)
  • Theatre as Suture: Grassroots Performance Decolonization and Healing (Qwo-Li Driskill)
  • Contributors


  • Renate Eigenbrod

    University of Manitoba

    Renate Eigenbrod is Associate Professor in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba where she teaches Canadian Aboriginal Literatures. Renate Eigenbrod’s research interests revolve around theories of decolonization in relation to Aboriginal literatures in Canada and Indigenous literatures globally. After investigating the ethics of positionality, she is presently working on the role of Aboriginal literatures within the larger societal discourses of genocide on the one hand and of reconciliation and redress on the other. She is also interested in community-based literary activities like the Aboriginal writers collectives in urban centres. She is the co-editor of Creating Community: A Roundtable on Canadian Aboriginal Literatures and the author of Travelling Knowledges: Positioning the Im/migrant Reader of Aboriginal Literatures in Canada.

  • Renée Hulan

    Saint Mary’s University

    Renée Hulan teaches Canadian literature at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the author of Northern Experience and the Myths of Canadian Culture and the editor of Native North America: Critical and Cultural Perspectives. Before joining the Faculty at Saint Mary’s University in 1998, Renée Hulan received a PhD from McGill University in 1996 and held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship in Native literature at the University of British Columbia from 1996-1998. While she teaches all periods and genres of Canadian literature, her area of interest is Canadian literary and cultural history. From 2005-2008, she was the co-editor of the Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes.

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