Between Stories and the Landscape
Type de publication:Conference Paper
Résumé (en anglais):
Amongst the non-literate cultures of the Northwest Coast, there is a profound relationship between oral history and worldview. Narrated by respected storytellers in contexts such as gatherings at the winter village, oral history acted as a vehicle to inform people about origins, distinguishing insiders from outsiders by 'placing' them within the wider context of historical and geographical relations. These traditions are said to be most strongly evoked by the landscape itself; indeed, to use Keith Basso's words, the 'storied landscape' could be 'read' like a book, each mountain, river and stone were like 'mnemonic pegs' on which hung the stories of the mythical past. However, if the landscape became meaningful to people in the conspicuous times and spaces of storytelling, what did people make of it when they returned to the routine activities of the seasonal round 'out on the land'? Drawing on oral history, ethnography as well as the landscape itself, this paper suggests that there is a significant gap between the meaning of the landscape mediated by 'tribal' discourse and that created through situated experiences of place. The implications of this are significant insofar that they suggest a degree of nuance to often monolithic interpretations of proto-historic power relations and concepts of identity.