first nations literature n.
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  1. FIRST NATIONS LITERATURE • First Nations became “part of” literature when Europeans first arrived and wrote about them • captains’ logs and sailors journals • fur traders from HBC • missionaries • miners from gold rush • all from Eurocentric point of view • latter part of 20th century First Nations authors developed distinct body of literature written in own voice Chapter 15

  2. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW • in 1800s, anthropologists collected stories from oral traditions • published without permission from First Nations who owned the stories • Mythology of the Bella Coola Indians, Franz Boas, 1898 • Mythology of the Thompson Indians, James Teit, 1912 • Metis poet Pauline Johnson, published collection of Aboriginal origin myths • one of several “as-told-to” accounts of traditional literature that became popular

  3. Christine Quintasket– Interior Salish • first Native American woman to publish a novel, 1927 • wrote of experiences • roundup of last buffalo • residential school attempting to take away her language • reflects upheaval of communities • strong advocate First Nations rights and justice • criticism of her writing – influenced by non-Native editors to write for popular audience

  4. first collection of stories by Aboriginal person in BC • Son of Raven, Son of Deer, George Clutest, 1967 • lecturer teaching Native culture in Cdn schools • numerous life histories by First Nations in collaboration with non-First Nations writers • Stoney Creek Woman: Sai’k’uuTs’eke– story of Mary John as told to Bridget Moran

  5. ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS PUBLISHING • publishing is process of taking written material and making it available to public in form of print • signed contract, publisher acquires right to edit and publish material by an author in return for payment • publishing companies predominantly Euro-Cdn • Aboriginal writers encounter difficulty in getting published • publishers gave preference to non-Aboriginal writers about First Nations people • led to inaccurate and sometimes racist portrayals • when published, often gave up control of content and style

  6. struggled for editorial control over what published about First Nations • publishing with small companies gave more control • books not necessarily reviewed by major newspapers or receive wide readership • only one Aboriginal publishing group in BC • Theytus Books

  7. CONTEMPORARY ABORIGINAL LITERATURE IN BC • in 1970s, Aboriginal people began to write own accounts of their history and place in Cdn society • in 1980s, First Nations women writing about their lives were getting published • developed unique narrative voices influenced by oral tradition, metaphors with traditional meanings and characters with transformational powers • sometimes use “rez” language • rhythm and patterns of speech in First Nations communities • use language and grammar familiar to audience

  8. in 1990, En’owkin Center published first issue of journal Gatherings • sampling of current Aboriginal literature • continues to be published each year • in 1990s, non-First Nations presses began to publish First Nations writers • wider distribution • 2 compilations of Okanagan Elder’s oral storytelling also published • gives voice to Elders cultural knowledge valuable to younger First Nations people • “to take charge of our own cultural revitalization” • Metis writers and poets published books with literary presses • First Nations scholars re-wrote BC history • several First Nations accounts of residential school experiences in BC published

  9. CULTURAL APPROPRIATION • to appropriate = to take possession of it, especially unlawfully, for oneself • mid 1980s, cultural appropriation referred primarily to non-Aboriginal writers using First Nations’ beliefs, customs, ceremonies, and sacred stores without permission • incorporating into their work in ways not intended to be used • stereotypes contemporary First Nations people • real voices get drowned • with many First Nations writers, no justification for writers outside the culture appropriating First Nations themes or issues • not that can’t use, but shouldn’t interpret or evaluate the spiritual beliefs without specific approval Olympics 2010: VANCOUVER — A Russian figure-skating duo who wore an aboriginal-themed outfit at a recent competition in Europe are skating on thin ice with natives in British Columbia.