The origins of culture : an ethnographic exploration of the Ktunaxa creation stories
Laing Gahr, Tanya
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SubjectAboriginal Worldviews; Communication studies; Creation stories; Cultural extinction; Narrative influence; Traditional knowledge
This project explores the Ktunaxa Nation's creation stories in order to understand the significance of these narratives in the formation and maintenance of the Ktunaxa culture. These stories inform and support the Ktunaxa ways of knowing, their worldviews, their history pre- and post-contact, and their connection to the geography of the Ktunaxa territory. Performance theory has been used to identify the ways in which the stories were shared during the filming of this project, and narrative inquiry has been used to draw out the creation story's central themes and how they relate to the ethnophilosophy of the Ktunaxa people --the interdependence of humans with all of creation; lessons from the animals including Skincu¢ the Coyote; the trauma of residential schools and the impact that has had on the culture and stories of the Ktunaxa; the landforms within the territory; and the responsibilities of all human beings according to these teachings. The research reflections identify truths that emerged through the ceremony of storytelling--rules to live by, ways to approach those within and outside the culture, lessons about being part of a community, and how to pattern the people and the culture off of the surrounding wildlife and geography. These lessons and stories relate to and support the culture of the Ktunaxa, past and present, by providing a connection to the Ktunaxa landscape and all that is within it, and anchors the culture with stories of that place that have been told for many thousands of years. Finally, this project discusses how Aboriginal worldviews contribute to and nourish the field of communication studies.
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