Creating Space for Historical Narratives Through Indigenous Storywork and Unsettling the Settler

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Knickle, Margaret
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The goal of my research was to contribute to the decolonization of education by demonstrating how the practice of Indigenous storywork, according to Principles of Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body and Spirit by JoAnn Archibald, Q’um Q’um Xiiem (2008), can be used as a pedagogical tool. For this study, I have focused on the Mi’kmaw People of Atlantic Canada and their traditional Mi’kmaw territory known as Mi’kma’ki. The Indigenous storywork approach opens the door for non-Indigenous people to become allies with Indigenous Peoples by “restorying,” or retelling from an Indigenous perspective, the historical narratives that have dominated the official view of the region’s history. This technique introduces decolonizing space to make room for the inclusion of the history and narrative of the L’nu or Mi’kmaw People (Regan, 2010). For this research, general historical Mi’kmaw and settlers (non-Indigenous people who settled Mi’kmaw territory) versions of a specific Eurocentric oral narrative known as “The Island with The Bloody Hand” have been collaboratively shared and analyzed. Through this Indigenous storywork, a truer, more balanced, and just story has emerged. My investigation has demonstrated how specific components of Eurocentric traditions, as well as stereotypical perceptions of Indigenous Peoples, are heavily tied to the roots of colonization in Canada (Regan, 2010). My work included an examination of the myths and stereotypes common in the 18th century, as perpetuated by Europeans, who portrayed the Mi’kmaq as savage warriors in need of civilizing by benevolent settlers (Paul, 2008). As with Battiste (2013, p. 92), my ultimate objective was to provide a basis for “educational reform that synergistically combines Mi’kmaw and Eurocentric epistemologies, ontology, methodology, and axiology.
Mi’kmaw, Indigenous storywork, Mi’kma’ki