The Classroom


Write a blog that hyper-links your research on the characters in GGRW. Be sure to make use of Jane Flick’s reference guide on your reading list.

I chose to focus on the classroom scene and the first time Alberta is introduced to us because when first reading this is when I realized that King was deliberately naming his characters as allusions to other historical or literary characters. I’ve broken down the information of the classroom characters in this post.

The actions of these characters reflect that which is expected of their namesakes but the relations between them seem arbitrary and therefore emphasize that these characters are fictional in this novel and are not actually the historical figures.

Alberta Frank

Obviously her name provokes images of Alberta the province which was named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. This name reflects a world in which the English held the power to give a name as though one didn’t previously exist.

I remember hearing about Frank, Alberta in a course that discussed rock slides and my teacher started the class by telling us the story of The Mountain that Walked. Through its re-telling over the years it has become a story about a warning story. Alberta is like this story because she is trying to tell her students a story about the treatment of Native Americans and warn against it but they aren’t listening.


The Frank Slide Interpretative Centre Story focuses on scientific evidence as seen on their Frank Slide Story webpage. But my initial encounter of this event was the Native legend. The one that says Natives warned settlers against living in the shadow of the mountain through stories referred to it as “The Mountain that Walked” – yet settlers did not take these warnings seriously. The Centre does mention this story – but it acts as an appetizer to the main course. Meanwhile, for me, this story helped me learn about this rock slide – maybe not about the scientific make-ups of the rocks, but that warning signs are important and if it happens once, it is likely to happen again.


Henry Dawes

This student unapologetically sleeps in the back of the classroom and when speaking or asking questions doesn’t legitimize Indian art or their traditions of belief. He is ignorant and indifferent to the information presented to him. Clearly this reflects the American legislator who wrote the Dawes Act.

The Dawes Act privatized Indian land in order to encourage assimilation and encourage them to give up their traditional ‘tribal’ ways for ‘civilization’. He completely disregarded the emotional and community ties that Natives would have to their home and ultimately the Dawes Act valued ‘civilizing the Indians’ over any consideration of their feelings or Constitutional claim to land.


John Collier

This character is represented as showing sympathies for the Indians of Fort Marion but remains an indifferent student. He asks questions but is noted to be moving closer to Hannah Duston rather than paying attention to the lesson. Ultimately I think King reveals his dominating Eurocentric views that are surprised by the situation of Indians. Collier was responsible for the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 which undid a lot of the negatives of the Dawes Act and allowed Indian self-government and consolidating land back into communal spaces.

He took the first step in restoring Native rights however there were still many problems to be faced including the negative stereotypes and social treatment in which Collier was even guilty of. After spending time with a few tribes he began to sympathize with them, but maintained their separation from himself as a civilized man as seen through his words in his Annual Report for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


Mary Rowlandson

As a student Mary is concerned about remembering names of all the people mentioned in the lecture. This blatant disregard for their individuality and for representing them accurately. I actually read Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative in a class a few years ago and remember discussing how she portrayed Indians in a stereotypical and cliched manner.

In her mind, her religion differentiated and her from her captors. People to this day uphold her book as a “triumph of faith over adversity” rather than the resulting story of a war waged on an established people by visitors to their land and the eventual justification for subjugation of Indigenous peoples.

Her narrative was upheld as a genuine representation of Indian life as she was one of the first published experiences for English readers. She is celebrated as the author of the first best-selling novel of America and also as an important female writer – however her portrayal of Indians became part of the foundation of negative stereotypes surrounding their culture. She discusses kidnapping, childhood suffering, family separation, brutal war, theft, and unsanitary living conditions and even after receiving care from her Native captors she refuses it based on the standards of faith and civilization.

Elaine Goodale

In the classroom she shows concern for the imprisoned female Indian which parallels her namesake’s concern with the people she taught. She was a writer and activist in close association with the Sioux of South Dakota. She started as a teacher to young Native Americans at residential schools before moving to Dakota to gain a closer perspective at her students roots and ultimately published stories about them . Here she opened a day school and fought against the separation of Indian children from their families in order to be moved to residential schools.

She left behind a memoir entitled Sister to the Sioux yet ultimately she only saw her experiences with the Sioux through her own Anglo-centric world view and still believed that they should assimilate at least partially in order to continue as a part of American society.


Hannah Duston

This is another female captive whose story became legendary in colonial America and which is referred to as “The Mother’s Revenge”. After her imprisonment her captors murdered her newborn baby and as retaliation she took a tomahawk and brutally massacred a dozen Indians. She also scalped them. In America today she still stands as two statues, which celebrate the massacre. One of which includes her holding the scalps of her victims. Despite some vandalism inflicted upon one statue, they both remain a symbol of what America values and celebrates; namely settlers conquering Indians and not giving fair representation to a war. Instead the focus is on the war as brutal action from a savage group rather than a wronged people fighting for their beliefs.


Helen Mooney

The only person excited to learn in the class, and the only one who might not really exist. I also wonder how the reader is supposed to react to this character because typically the ‘teacher’s pet’ character comes across as annoying. But her excitement should be positive in this scenario. As Flick points out there may be connections to James Mooney which may be a private joke of King’s.

Works Cited

Bored_college_students_sleeping_in_lecture_hall. Digital image. Shmoop. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Collier.” University of Colorado Boulder, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Dawes Act (1887).” Our Documents. National Archives’ Digital Classroom, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Elaine Goodale Eastman (1863-1953).” Schoolhouse Pioneers. PBS, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161-162 (1999): 140-72. Web. 27 July 2016.

Glenbow Museum Archives. Frank_Slide_4-30-1903. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Hannah Duston: The Mother’s Revenge.” Roadside America. Doug Kirby, Ken Smith, Mike Wilkins, 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Summary of ‘A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson’ – the Role of Women in Her Removes.” Letter Pile. HubPages, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 July 2016.

“The Frank Slide Story.” Frank Slide Interpretative Centre. Alberta Culture and Tourism, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

“The Mary Rowlandson Story.” Mary Rowlandson. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

Toensing, Gale Courey. “The Dawes Act Started the U.S. Land-Grab of Native Territory.” Indian Country Today Media Network. Indian Country Today Media Network Read More at Http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/02/08/dawes-act-started-us-land-grab-native-territory-96582, 2 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016.

Two Young Ladies Taken Prisoner. Digital image. American Girl Diaries. WordPress, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 July 2016.

99% Invisible. “Was This Woman a Heroine or a Villain?” The Eye. Slate, 8 May 2014. Web. 27 July 2016.

““A Bill of Rights for the Indians”: John Collier Envisions an Indian New Deal.” History Matters. American Social History Productions, Inc, 16 May 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

““We Took Away Their Best Lands, Broke Treaties”: John Collier Promises to Reform Indian Policy.” History Matters. American Social History Project, 16 May 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.


What’s in a Name?

I’m a huge superhero fan. I saw the premiere of the newest Captain America movie and I may have shamelessly bought those tickets over a month in advance. However when first reading this book and encountering the four Indians the name ‘Hawkeye’ didn’t register as the non-superhuman member of the Avengers. It wasn’t until I took a break and went back to the book that I envisioned the sharp-shooting Avenger instead of someone named for the animal and realized my own cultural knowledge. In fact I thought that Thomas King was attempting to reveal reader biases through the names given to the Four Indians (as I will refer to them as I continue this discussion) because of the connotations associated with each name.

So let’s continue onto the other characters;


This name was the one that stumped me the most to find one single reason. But ultimately it kept coming back to the question of religion. Religion fluidity comes through Ishmael whose name is present in Muslim, Jewish and Christian stories and while King specifically evokes Ishmael’s presence on the boat hunting Moby Dick, the initial introduction leaves the connections to the reader. Many articles (theological and otherwise) even connect the ambiguous nature of God with the Great White Whale and one even points out the Buddhist implications of the narrative.

The Lone Ranger

Not only Johnny Depp’s recent mistake, but one that has been rewritten many times before as this article briefly overviews. Now my knowledge on this character is very limited. For me it initially evokes thoughts of an outlaw (the ‘Ranger’ part of the name made me think he’s probably a cowboy but I definitely had a moment where I wondered if he was Native) robbing stage coaches in a Robin-Hood-style in the ‘Wild West’. After a very quick Google (because my curiosity got the best of me after realizing I knew nothing about the Lone Ranger) I came up with information on the TV show that solidified The Lone Ranger’s persona in pop culture and even speculation that the real-life legend of the Lone Ranger was an African-American escaped slave (remains unconfirmed though sounds like an interesting story!). While this may not be common knowledge it’s really interesting to think about who knows what and how they picture this figure who has been recreated so many times by so many people in so many different eras who have different cultural knowledge. It also evokes how the Four Indians interact with the Wild West imagery and that aspect of Indians in the popular memory/knowledge.

Robinson Crusoe

He is one of the most famous fictional settlers of a lost land, slave trade participant and conqueror of ‘savages’. Friday is a former cannibal who quite literally kisses Crusoe’s feet because he is saved from being eaten. The violence in this novel makes his actions seem heroic and not intrusive. Invoking Western colonial rule through the name of one of the Four Indians I believe is a way to articulate the issue head-on and make sure that it is present in the novel. While the novel doesn’t attempt to solve the issue, it doesn’t shy away from it either.

And a final point – the one thing I didn’t dwell much one was the notion that the Four Indians are women or goddesses as Blanca points out (48). To me they were always fluid characters whose main purpose was to be balanced. They have no gender, no home, no time or location constraints, and are just focused on being helpful beings. In them there is infinite possibilities and in that way they become exactly what they need to be.

BUT, these are all fictional characters – does that reflect onto or say anything about the beings who take on the names? Comment your thoughts!

I believe it does in a way. It blurs the barriers of realism and fiction as the Four Indians interact with the realist characters. And it allows readers to realize that they may not know everything about this book. As Blanca points out, “The storyteller does not tell all he or she knows, or explain the meanings of names, places, and things. There is an assumption of a common matrix of cultural knowledge, and invoking words—names and places—suggests that shared epistemology” (55). You have to rely on your own knowledge to make connections and in the end there’s plenty that remains unknown to non-Natives and provides exclusive access to Natives.

Stages of life

Stages of life will be represented through their name

After my reading and impressions I did a little more research out of my own cultural knowledge into what these names mean in a Native American setting. The fluidity of the Four Indian’s names depend on cultural knowledge but also knowledge of how naming happens. The process of naming someone in Native American traditions is much different than Western cultures and instead of prioritizing familial ties and identification they prioritized identity and individual accomplishments or stages of life which ultimately reflect how a person changes. In other words, there are multiple dimensions of names in order to reflect the true person and for the Four Indians these names would change during each incarnation that they take on in order to help the world.

Why would King choose the names he does for this stage of the Four Indian’s journey (Hawkeye, Ishmael, The Lone Ranger, and Robinson Crusoe)? Comment!

Works Cited

Admirand, Peter. “Zen and the White Whale: A Buddhist Rendering of Moby-Dick.” Rev. of Zen and the White Whale. American Studies 2015: 140-41. Project Muse. Web. 18 July 2016.

D’Addario, Daniel. “Johnny Depp’s Tonto Misstep: Race and “The Lone Ranger”.” Salon. N.p., 3 July 2013. Web. 18 July 2016.

“Lone Ranger.” An International Catalogue of Heroes. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

“Native American Names.” Native Indian Tribes. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Native Wisdom. Digital image. Poster Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Naziri, Micah. “The Real ‘Lone Ranger’ Was An African American Lawman Who Lived With Native American Indians.” Political Blindspot. N.p., 25 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 July 2016.

Pearson Waugaman, Elisabeth. “Names and Identity: The Native American Naming Tradition.” Psychology Today. Sussex, 8 July 2011. Web. 18 July 2016.


The New World

2] In this lesson I say that it should be clear that the discourse on nationalism is also about ethnicity and ideologies of “race.” If you trace the historical overview of nationalism in Canada in the CanLit guide, you will find many examples of state legislation and policies that excluded and discriminated against certain peoples based on ideas about racial inferiority and capacities to assimilate. – and in turn, state legislation and policies that worked to try to rectify early policies of exclusion and racial discrimination. As the guide points out, the nation is an imagined community, whereas the state is a “governed group of people.” For this blog assignment, I would like you to research and summarize one of the state or governing activities, such as The Royal Proclamation 1763, the Indian Act 1876, Immigration Act 1910, or the Multiculturalism Act 1989 – you choose the legislation or policy or commission you find most interesting. Write a blog about your findings and in your conclusion comment on whether or not your findings support Coleman’s argument about the project of white civility.


The New World was aptly named as a place where Europeans could escape from the rigid society rules they knew to a world where the rules were being created; and they could be a part of it! The promise of a new country, unlike their well-developed and structured one, promised an area that they could develop. The stories that went into the New World were ones that determine land is meant to be used for building and development.

Mary Rowlandson (who is mentioned in Green Grass Running Water) was a part of the Puritans who came to America to escape their own persecution. But in the process they persecuted those surrounding them because their own idea of a perfect world wasn’t followed by the Natives. This idea was a fantasy that ironically involved making the New World exactly like the old one with just some minor rule changes. Anyone who didn’t fit into British standards was discouraged from being a part of Canada. Both the Indian Act and Immigration Act are legislation that defined Canadian white civility.

The Indian Act permits the Canadian government to regulate registere
d Indians since 1876 including control over policing, registration, land, and restrictions. These restrictions are in place to ensure that the dream settlers had when leaving their homelands came true, but this led to regulating non-white cultures to the point of extinction.

The dream of the Mayflower ironically didn’t change much from Britain. The settlers took the buildings and structure of society for granted and took that to the New World to implement and fill with what was familiar to them and what they saw as pure and right. As a result all other cultures became wrong and from this the legislation was made that marginalized non-whites and created white civility.

The Immigration Act of 1910 then further established white civility because the regulations on approved immigrants increased and allowed government officials to have greater control over who could immigrate to Canada. In the words of the document, they were given the power to determine who was “unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada”. The ambiguous notion of ‘Canada’ became defined by those who took power to enact what was ‘right’. Assimilation becomes part of the melting pot in the United States, but in Canada we are proud to say we are a mosaic. But this mosaic wasn’t any different than the melting pot because of the legislation that prevented any differences from white cultural standards.Anthem

The New World was supposed to be the Perfect World for those leaving the Old World. They saw it as the opportunity to create new rules and a space where they could be ‘free’. America is based on the idea of “liberty and justice for all” however this didn’t translate. In both Canada and America the rituals practiced as a nation including National Anthems and the Pledge of Allegiance are ways to create and maintain a nationalistic sense, however all of these rituals are primarily Christian-based and unwilling to change that usually based in the notion of ‘tradition’. White civility continues to reign as their religion and beliefs maintain their presence every sports game or morning as classes stand to show support of their country. But white civility rituals such as the anthem can change in Canada as the recent parliamentary discussions on making the anthem gender-neutral. The discussions on “God” in the anthem could be next. There have already been speculations and while the defense is already creating a case, it will take the millions who are not Christian-oriented to change the white civility that the founded this country. But change can happen, it just takes a little more extra, and maybe a few Facebook Groups.


Works Cited

Cole, Cam. Canadian Medal worth Celebrating. Digital image. Calgary Herald. Postmedia, 4 Jan. 2012. Web. 8 July 2016.

“Immigration Act, 1910.” Pier 21. Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, n.d. Web. 8 July 2016.

Milewski, Terry. “Changing O Canada: Is God Next?” CBCNews Politics. CBC, 11 June 2016. Web. 8 July 2016.

“The Indian Act.” First Nations and Indigenous Studies. University of British Columbia, n.d. Web. 8 July 2016.




Carlson discusses the notion of authenticity in both Western and Native cultures and how this notion functions within their traditions. I want to take his notions further to an international level and contrast these notions of ‘authenticity’ with a news story I followed a few weeks back.


Carlson and the Salish

First let’s look at Carlson’s analysis of Salish narratives. He’s entirely right by stating that by questioning a stories authenticity that narrative is contested and the storyteller is subsequently undermined and doubted. According to Carlson, “Stories that appear to have been unduly influenced or informed by post-contact European events and issues have long been discarded to the dustbin of scholarly interest” (56). However this is a Western process of thinking and limits the truths that are presented through Salish story-telling. For the Salish, the reality and the truth of the story are different. The truth comes through different ways of knowing and the reality becomes irrelevant.

Carlson admits that the relationship between orality and literacy is complicated particularly in regards to contact between Natives and Europeans;

Within the oral traditions, literacy sits alternately at the centre of the Salish world and outside of it. It is simultaneously foreign and indigenous, threatening and protective; it is from the past as well as the present and it looms large in the future. Literacy challenges orality, and therefore Salish notions of self, while at the same time these narratives reveal that literacy is implicitly regarded as something in need of repatriation: a repatriation that, once accomplished, will restore a balance that was earlier disrupted. (44)

Carlson points out that literacy’s difference from orality is that it preserves knowledge and arguably shares the exact same information with a potentially wider audience (48). But orality provides an opportunity to tell a story with opportunity for fluidity – including post-contact details. The story can be the same and still include contemporary audiences and concerns as we see through readings of Harry Robinson. The science of the story doesn’t need to be at the forefront. Whether a story is pre or post-contact is irrelevant to the telling of the story because as the story is passed down from son-to-son so is the information and traditions. This son-to-son linkage allows connections to their ancestral history without requiring literacy. As Carlson argues, it is a new kind of literacy that values personal reputation and oral citing over historical factuality.

Carlson also points out that cumulative stories or prophecies w
ould create authority for the stories (60).

“Within the Salish world by way of contrast, historical accuracy is largely assessed in relation to people’s memories of previous renditions or versions of a narrative and in relation to the teller’s status and reputation as an authority”

Ultimately Carlson calls for a reorganization of how knowledge is collected and presented, specifically in regards to non-Western cultures. The ‘authenticity’ needs to stop being questioned and instead other criteria must emerge and “ that recognizes the plurality of indigenous voices within Aboriginal communities and the historical consciousness that informs those voices and beliefs” (63).



Historical Purity Case Study

The Western treatment of ‘other’ mythologies remains strictly ‘factual’ and aims to provide some form of authenticity. A few weeks back I remember seeing a news article on new information regarding King Tut; namely that a dagger found at his side was in fact made from a meteorite. For me this sparked a thought-process in which I imagined a meteor falling from the sky and people staring up at it and reacting in a certain way whether that be celebration, fear, indifference, or something else, part of me really wants to know. But the articles I read and watched were all focused on the science and the studies that could prove facts. When I googled more about King Tut it was even hard to find what the hieroglyphs within his tomb states and how those contrasted with the scientific stories that are told. Now don’t get me wrong, science is great and we learn stuff, but I want to learn about the culture of Egyptians. I’ve read a few historical fiction novels about Egyptian kings and queens and these narratives really emphasized a few things.

  1. That it isn’t that hard to erase someone from history. Just scratch away the names on every wall in Egypt and hope that someone doesn’t accidently find the tomb that was misplaced to begin with.
  2. The story told (in hieroglyphs or otherwise) isn’t necessarily the story that happened.
  3. Stories are fluid – if a pharaoh wanted to be painted in prime masculine condition then that’s how he would be for the rest of eternity – but science contrasts that notion.
  4. We really know nothing about history. Read this article to see how many questions actually surround King Tut without ever mentioning local mythologies or even hieroglyphs within his tomb (as the mythologies outside of his tomb were literally washed away).

KingTutScience is changing every minute. A common proof of this is that people used to believe the world was flat. But even today, with all our machines and gizmos and gadgets that claim to be able to prove things, new things are happening every day, including finding King Tut’s famous death mask may have had a previous owner. Now for me this sounds like a great story – imagine the person who decided to take the death mask from an infamously powerful queen and add a beard to make it for a man. It’s the little stuff like that that I’m interested in, but my postulations and those that I read in some of my favourite books regarding the 18th Egyptian Dynasty cannot be proven and therefore are not credited with anything resembling authenticity and so those books remain in the fiction section.


I chose my favourite story of the many published online and feel comfort knowing that it was produced by National Geographic – an internationally acclaimed source. So even though there are some postulations in her account of King Tut’s mysteries, it’s okay.


Works Cited

Hawass, Zahi. “King Tut’s Family Secrets.” National Geographic. National Geographic, Sept. 2010. Web. 29 June 2016.

King Tut. Digital image. The Cosmos News. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

AFP. King Tut Dagger. Digital image. News.com.au. News Limited, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

Ng, Kate. “King Tutankhamun: New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egyptian Gold Mask Was Made for Heretic Queen Nefertiti.” The Independent. N.p., 27 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 June 2016.

Pruitt, Sarah. “Researchers Say King Tut’s Dagger Was Made From a Meteorite.” History. A&E Television Networks, 3 June 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.

Williams, A. R. “Mystery of King Tut’s Death Solved? Maybe Not.” National Geographic. National Geographic, 7 Nov. 2013. Web. 29 June 2016.

Williams, A. R. “Mystery of King Tut’s Death Solved? Maybe Not.” National Geographic. National Geographic, 7 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 June 2016.


Initial Curiosities

“If Europeans were not from the land of the dead, or the sky, alternative explanations which were consistent with indigenous cosmologies quickly developed” (“First Contact43). Robinson gives us one of those alternative explanations in his stories about how Coyote’s twin brother stole the “written document” and when he denied stealing the paper, he was “banished to a distant land across a large body of water” (9). We are going to return to this story, but for now – what is your first response to this story? In context with our course theme of investigating intersections where story and literature meet, what do you make of this stolen piece of paper? This is an open-ended question and you should feel free to explore your first thoughts.


My first impression of this was to wonder what specifics of this story there were; who else tells it besides Harry; where do they tell it; when has it been told since (part of me even wondered when paper was invented). It’s not that I necessarily need the answers, but that having them would make me feel more comfortable in my knowledge. I understand that gaining this knowledge can be interpreted as limiting to the overall meaning of the story however I find I’m curious about how these themes could come into a story that is so timeless – this could also be the fact that I am reading it in the context of academia and therefore my curiosity is taking precedence.

Only after my initial curiosities did I begin to wonder what the paper might contain but I understand and appreciate that some of the best stories leave that to the imagination. While I tried to make a guess or find some kind of clue in the story as to what might be on the paper, I just couldn’t. I even considered that maybe the paper was even blank or covered in runes.
The story can be looked at two ways; either the Native Americans had the
papiruspaper taken from them; or the Europeans took the paper and used it. The subject of this aspect of the story defines what the paper’s main function was. While it’s obvious to conclude that the paper led to reading and writing that the settlers defined themselves with, its origins within North America can lead to questions such as was this something the Natives were deprived of? Or something that they didn’t need? I find that the story leaves these questions ambiguous and allows individual interpretation. The paper itself seems to be sufficient as a representation of the European aspect of the twins. The twins of the story also rang a bell for me – in the past twins have been pointed out in my classes as loaded with symbolism. From Greek to African to Native American mythologies twins are part of their gods and goddesses, spirits and legends. With something that spreads across this many cultures there will obviously be conflicting ideas in the symbolism, but to me I remember being taught that twins represent perfect balance and Harry’s story reinforces this idea. The twins in this story balance past and present, man and woman, European and Native, nature and paper and many others and from this story an imbalance occurs that leads to the conflict in Canada’s current story.

The story developed throughout this chapter for me and I really enjoyed when Wickwire points out that “although he would never tamper with storylines or fictionalize any part of a story, he incorporated seemingly extraneous details where he felt they belonged. For example, when he learned that whites had landed on the moon, Harry immediately incorporated this detail into his story about Coyote’s son’s trip to and from an upper world” (29). This quote resonates with me because it brings to light how cultures can mix and be successful. Harry adds to his story as he learns more about a people that while different from him, he acknowledges as descendants from his ancestors twins. This flexibility to incorporate present day narratives and those of other cultures into ones that are part of a specific cultural past shows an inclusion that residential schools proved European settlers didn’t understand. As Wickwire puts it, “For Indians, power was located in their hearts and heads; for whites, it was located on paper” (16). I found that the representations within a Christian European context are not as adaptable and instead their notions are those that Wickwire describes as their own mythologies that emphasize a single creator and a linear progression through time, history, and science. For Native Americans their stories are what she refers to as “this timeless zone of relative familiarity” (14) in which stories of the past are brought to actively engage with the present. I admire this and believe that while the stories must have subtly changed over the centuries, the themes ring true and present knowledge to the listeners.

Overall my initial impressions continued to build over the course of the chapter like Wickwire’s did as she continued to hear Harry’s stories and contemplate them after the fact. My immediate reactions after reading the story were to want to learn more, but as the chapter progressed and Wickwire referred back to the story I was able to do the same and to contemplate further and consider different aspects of the story deeper.



Works Cited

Jicha, Kristin. “Myths and Legends about Twins.” Cryptophasia: Twin Language. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.

“Native American Legends and Stories About Twins.” Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and Promoting American Indian Languages. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 June 2016.

“The Invention of Paper.” Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking. Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech – Atlanta, Georgia, 13 June 2006. Web. 17 June 2016.

Robinson, Harry. Living by Stories: A Journey of Landscape and Memory. Ed. Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talon, 2005. Print.

Unknown – Den Arnamagnæanske Samling Original. The Last Leaf (f. 100r) of the Codex Runicus Manuscript with the Oldest Musical Notation Found in Scandinavia. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.


Something About Home

It’s easy to claim that home is a symbol. It’s a word we’ve all heard and probably hope to feel some resemblance of at some point. In reading some of the blog posts it was nice to connect to so many of them and think “Hey, I do that too.” This is especially impressive because home is an extremely personal thing, as many posts bravely showcased.

I found that the common threads in our definitions were stability, comfort and most of all – memories. Our sense of home is defined by what has happened to us, what we remember and what has brought us to where we are today. Whether that be finding that “it” feeling on stage in Stephanie’s post, or discovering a rug in Morocco like Ashley that became part of her home, or Cam who relates his heritage to his sense of home; all of these posts I completely related to and their stories reminded me of some of my own memories that also helped build my own complex idea of home.

I see this all as sort of as a Lego House. Everyone builds their “home” slightly different (it may not even take the shape of a house), but you need more than one block and it takes time. After different stages of life and experiences, different parts form. I take care of kids who associate home with “bed”, “parents”, and “food”, but those ideas will be added to and get more complicated as they get older. I remember when I thought home could only be one place, but once I moved for the first time I learned that that wasn’t true and so my definition morphed to adapt to my experiences.

Lego Kids Home

Obviously a lot of these memories (though not all) are made with loved ones (whether that be family, friend or anything in between) and I believe that that’s something we can all relate to and be happy about. These are the people that I found provide the stability and comfort in our lives that so many of us associated with home.

I know that home isn’t made by a specific combination of people and places, but I know mine is because of the memories of comfort, security and happiness that they provided me – especially the crazy stories my sisters and I share. While I love reading stories about people who create their own home based on their own rules and I read their stories with the same vigour as eating a tub of ice cream, but know that it isn’t for me. Everyone has a different build than I do, but we can all relate to at least one block in that building and I think that’s pretty cool.


Works Cited

Bullen, Cam. “2:2 Home.” Web log post. Cam Bullen’s ENGL 470 Blog. UBC WordPress, 6 June 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

LEGO. Two kids build with large blocks. Digital image. Lego Education. LEGO, 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

Mather, Katie. “28 Childhood Memories You Can Only Make If You Grew Up With Siblings.” ThoughtCatalog. The Thought & Expression Co., 25 Aug. 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

Michaud, Stefanie. “2:2 This Was My 8th Move in Less than 3 Years.” Web log post. Summer2016course. UBC WordPress, 6 June 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

Nicholson, Ashley. “2.2 Finding Home In Unlikely Places.” Web log post. Ashley Nicholson’s English 470A Blog. UBC WordPress, 6 June 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

Willett, Megan. “A California Couple Built This Portable ‘Tiny House’ For $30,000.” Business Insider: Life. The Business Insider, 31 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 June 2016.


Home To Me

It starts with a blanket.

It was used to cuddle up in my secret spot reading a book cover-to-cover; it was dragged outside to sit on for picnics; it was used for family movie nights even though it was never big enough; it was even part of some of the most epic blanket forts that have ever existed. And after all this it’s a little worse for wear, but it’s still there; at home.

Linus Blanket

Right now that place that I’ve named home is a red-bricked dwelling with a forest behind it and a big grass field next to it. There’s a basketball net in the driveway and tulips that my mom slaves away to bring back year after year. But this is only the beginning.

Then there’s the backyard.

It hasn’t been the same over the years and the one I have now is much different from when I was 8, but it’s always had the necessities that encouraged the adventures of my sisterhood. My family has always had a strong belief in adventures and testing and learning about our boundaries and surroundings. This place was the home to summers full of home-made slip-n-slides, mud fights, trampoline accidents, pool competitions and other adventures we came up with. In my memories there are sprinklers that we definitely broke from over-use and a little pink and blue plastic playhouse that we had to give away recently. And there’s always my Beppe’s (‘grandma’ in Fries) voice in my head saying, “You need more fresh air, girl.”

And then there’s my room.

It’s overflowing with mementos from my past from taping concert wristbands and passes to my desk, to useless souvenirs I’ve picked up from around the world that remind me of everywhere I’ve been, and a map showing all the places I want to go.

The family that comes with the house is pretty cool too.

My sisters who (while fighting all the while we were growing up) helped me come up with some amazing plans, and some that were rather questionable including a 3-person carrying-on-the-shoulders stunt that practically gave my mom a heart attack. Home is where for every birthday, soccer game, talent show and holiday my very Dutch grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all get together and just spend time together; sometimes it’s in the pool, sometimes it’s playing football, sometimes it’s even making up our own games or telling embarrassing stories to each other. These are the people who I want to make proud and who I know couldn’t ever not be.

The homes if my heritage are also somewhere in this mix.Friesland

Some of it is in South America and other parts are in India – both of which I plan to visit one day. There’s also a home in Wons, Friesland in the Netherlands, the place my grandfather grew up and have told me millions of stories about. I went there this last summer and stayed with relatives in a town that is smaller than most shopping malls. I saw the house where my grandfather grew up, the fields he raised dairy cows on, the bar where he had his first drink, and the World War II bunkers that he played in. All while doing this I proudly wore a Canadian flag sewed to my knapsack and told my relatives stories about what Canada is like (in broken Fries and English) because a homeland for me is one to take with you when you’re away.

Finally there’s the town I grew up in.

You probably couldn’t find it on a map and it’s the sort of everyone-knows-everyone place that sitcoms and horror movies love to showcase. Together with a few other small towns around us we’ve got classic small town sights like tourism farms (for city folk, yes this is a real thing), historical sites, and Canadian maple syrup lodges. There’s also the story I tell everyone about my hometown. You see, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. We have a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker and there’s even a general store. I tell people this and they laugh. I like my hometown’s character. It’s unique and slightly cartoonish and it’s always nice to go back there.

Home is constantly changing for me. I traveled cross-country to come to school at UBC and that meant leaving it all behind. But it isn’t the first time I’ve had to leave a home and it won’t be the last. When I go I have my few things that were given to me that I can take anywhere and make me feel just as safe; a bracelet with charms my grandmother has filled over the years with symbols of her favourite memories; a photo of my mom making a funny face that she doesn’t know exists; a photo album showing my sisters and me growing up; and a silly wooden cow given to me by my best friend. It’s the place I’ll always go back to and the home I’ll bring with me no matter where I go.

Works Cited

Things to Do: Campbellville. Campbellville. Destination Campbellville Community Association, 2014. Web. 5 June 2016.

Rosin, Hanna. The Overprotected Kid. The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, Apr. 2014. Web. 5 June 2016.

Schulz, Charles M. Peanuts. United Feature Syndicate Inc., 1990. Web. 5 June 2016.

Springridge Farm. Springridge Farm, 2016. Web. 5 June 2016.


And so it was true.

In true turtle-on-turtle all-the-way-down fashion, I wrote this story about a story about a story – and you’ll never believe what happened! This is the story of how evil came into the world. It doesn’t tell us when and it doesn’t tell us when it will end; all it does is give us something to believe in and hope for a better future.

Once upon a time there was a storyteller who wandered the world enchanting people with her words. Some called her a witch, others an old hag, but most just called her magic.

And what did she look like?

Her long hair was filled with flowers and twigs and a bird’s nest or two; she wore flowing shirts and billowing skirts covered by a long torn robe that allowed mice and squirrels to cling to her train; the staff she carried was a branch given to her by the oldest wisest tree of the forest and lizards played along it’s grooves.

She had been everywhere that someone could go and even a few places you couldn’t. When she got someplace new she would find a nice tree to sit and lean against and she would begin telling stories. From her seat her words would be taken by the wind and circle the world twice over and find a place to live among the hearts and minds of her listeners.

Her audiences were made of villages, animals, trees, and other magic sorts. TheyWitch 1 would listen and they would see the truth in her stories of things they may have never seen. She told of a world where the only thing known was water for miles and an otter came forth and said it was true. And what else would her stories be about?

She told of a world where the land was so flat you could see the back of your own head.
She told of a world where its people only lived at the very tops of trees.
She told of worlds past the stars where unthinkable creatures lived.
She told of worlds where the children would play and sing all day and have no cares at all.
She told of worlds where people could fly among the birds.
She told of a world in the clouds where you could relax all day.

And so it was true.

But one day the wind told her of a gathering of sorts for witches. She traveled for one day and many nights to get to where it was being held and once there she found she was late. She walked towards a light in the woods that had shadows dancing around it. As she came to the edge of the treeline she found the animals too scared to go any closer but too curious to retreat. She shook her head. She felt shadows trying to grab at her.

She entered the gathering and heard witches of all sorts bragging about what they could do. Some could fly into the worlds of the sky. Another could swim to the deepest depths of any ocean. Some could transport themselves and others could turn invisible. One could use the natural elements however she felt. Another could transform items into anything she wanted. Some bragged about creating enough gold to make them richest. One even claimed to be able to use mind control on any living thing. What do you notice about these witches?

The conversation took a turn for the worst as they began competing in strength and creativity of spells and charms. They could all do the nice things, but the darker arts were more difficult. They started fires and created lightning. They made bugs that tried to scuttle by unnoticed into poisonous beasts. They created potions and spells that created all sorts of evils.

The storyteller shook her head. She began to feel tired watching these witches play with the nature of the world. She got an ache in her knees and a kink in her neck and then a boisterous witch came up to her asking why she wasn’t having any fun. Would you be having fun?

The storyteller asked the witch if she wanted to truly know evil. “And you think you can do better than what has been done? Well then have at it. Everyone, we have another contestant,” she laughed as she gave the storyteller a seat in the center.

A male witch approached the storyteller, “What do you intend on doing that is worse than what has already been done?”

Witch 2The woman looked at that witch long and hard and simply said, “Just listen.” From there she proceeded to tell the most horrifying, intriguing and heartbreaking tale that has ever been told. It began happy enough, as almost all stories do, but she stopped right at the place when everything was a horrible, chaotic mess and her audience held their breath and waited to hear the final resolution.

“And then what happened?” the witches prodded.

“That’s it,” she responded.

“But that can’t be it. That’s not a proper ending,” said a witch of four.

“Well maybe not all stories have proper endings,” she said sadly.

“Well then take it back,” the girl insisted.

But she could not. As she said her final words, the wind took them away across the land and it was too late. For once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world.

And so it was true.

In the end, you always have to be careful of the stories you tell, and perhaps more importantly – the stories you listen to.

I’m a nanny, and the kids I work with are obsessed with stories. Every day as we walk home from school I’ll tell them a new one. Sometimes they’re well-known, sometimes they’re stories about my childhood, and other times I just make them up.  For me I like telling them stories because I can get them to contribute as well. I ask them questions like “What would you like their name to be?” Or “What did his house look like?” and they can add whatever they want to the story. I showed their additions in italics as these parts will change with each telling. And I imagine telling in a group would be significantly different. Also, while telling a story to two children around 5 and 7 I’ve found that interruptions occur quite frequently. Sometimes they ask questions or ask to add something in, but there are also times where they just get distracted.

Most of all I like telling these kids stories aloud because I can take ownership of it and have the kids engage with it as well. I believe in this because I was raised listening to the stories of my grandparents and parents. There’s something more personal and exciting about hearing someone’s individual voice recount an event.

StoryCorps is the best example of this (you can find more information about their mission here). You can listen and/or watch and really experience these short human experiences. Just like Thomas King these people probably initially think “there are other people with better stories; who cares about mine?” But StoryCorps argues otherwise and I agree. I believe that finding a way to tell your own story is an important part of understanding yourself and a way to connect to others. I teach these children the same and they’ve begun gaining the skills to recount their own lives with excitement and pride. This pride is an invaluable skill that I think many people may not understand is connected to storytelling. StoryCorps has also initiated a Tribal Libraries program in which Native communities can use StoryCorps resources for recording and sharing orally.

Storytelling has always been a part of my life and I hope that initiatives like StoryCorps can prove how important they are to children and adults alike.

Works Cited

Cain, Susan. How to Tell Your Own Life Story. Quiet Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2016.

StoryCorps. StoryCorps. Ed. Dave Isay. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2016.

Man, Satanic. Cloaked woman on edge of lake, book open and dark mist encircling. Digital image. Satanic Man. Tumblr, n.d. Web. 28 May 2016. <http://satanic-man.tumblr.com/>.

Pilon, Alain. Witch Photo with Special Effects. Digital image. 500px ISO. Klassy Goldberg, 2014. Web. 28 May 2016.


The Stories are Everywhere

Chamberlin puts the concept of home in parallel with the relationship between imagination and reality and how both are human perceptions that tend to be socially constructed. So I found the explanation of “home” in something he could appreciate – a fantasy story.

Bilbo describes home as where his books are while the dwarves are trying to reclaim the mountain that was taken from them forcefully by a dragon. Bilbo admits that while he belongs in a peaceful home reading his books from his armchair, he has left that home in order to help the dwarves regain theirs. It’s easy to relate the two stories; The Hobbit and that of the Indigenous peoples around the globe (who have more than a single dragon to conquer in order to persevere). This story is both real and imaginary, like Chamberlin’s examination in If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?, however Bilbo’s concept of ‘home’ translates easily into our world.

‘Home’ is a figurative idea that we are taught to believe in as well as a reality we experience (Chamberlin 78). Home is where the heart is; where we curl up with a good book; where we lay our heads; where our ancestors lived; where our family is; where you keep your underwear (according to a 4 year old I know). I can relate to all of these as I’m sure you can as well. As Chamberlin consistently reiterates, the stories that make up our individual lives as well as our cultural lives are necessary and will connect us. The internet has provided a way for millions of stories to be shared from a public copy of The Survivors Speak, which reports stories of the survivors of Residential Schools who can now know for sure that Canadians know the truth, to the stories of immigrants who arrived at Pier 21 who faced harsh conditions and risked everything from their homeland to move here. All of these stories share a similar tone of distress and with these stories empathy can be gained and show the interconnection between what has become “Us” and “Them”.

I find that the common connection between the notions of ‘home’ across all cultures is that it is a place of belonging. Belonging is at the foundation of Canada for both those who were always here and those who have come here and from this similarity common ground can (almost literally) be achieved.

However, the differences between culturally practices have prevented this common ground to be reached and instead consequences such as contradictory claims on land and home have emerged. The immigrants were told ‘come to Canada, there’s plenty of land for you to own’ which for many was a dream come true. Advertisements presented a land of opportunity, not conflict. Many immigrants wouldn’t have realized their impact on the Indigenous peoples because in the same way that Chamberlin is told he can’t eat peas with a knife, the settlers didn’t understand land ownership in any terms other than papers and laws. To them this new land was the home they had worked so hard for and the Indigenous weren’t the owners. On the other side, the Indigenous peoples had a different notion of how one owns land. Through these differences conflicts surrounding land occurred despite the consistent notion that the land is ‘home’ to both groups.

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Chamberlin claims that by changing the claim to the land it wouldn’t necessarily mean having anyone move or giving any homes up, but rather providing an appropriate association between Canada’s land and her Indigenous peoples in the same way we associate the word home with both a reality and an idea. In fantasy terms, this means allowing the dwarves claim on the mountain and internationally recognizing it, but nationally sharing in the profits.


Works Cited

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This Is Your Land Where Are Your Stories? Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003. Print.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Dir. Peter Jackson. Perf. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage. New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 2012. Online.

“Culture Trunks.” Pier 21. Canadian Museum of Immigration: Pier 21, 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.


Canadian-isms Introduction

Bonjour, eh?How to Be Canadian

(That means ‘Welcome to my Canadian Literature Studies Blog’ in Canadian)

I’m Charlie, a double major in English Literature and Film Studies, and one of my many guilty pleasures is laughing at Canadian stereotypes no matter how true or false. Right now you should look up how to be Canadian. I dare you. It’s pretty entertaining. And while I am proud to call myself a fan of both the Jays and poutine, I know that these stereotypes only scratch the surface of this country and this summer I have a simple goal; to further explore Canada’s interior. I (of course) mean that metaphorically – I will be doing this all from the comfort of my pajamas and with Google at my fingertips.

Canadian-isms in the media are vastly over generalized as we can see in this advertisement for a beer named after our country and other throwaway references in TV or movies.

But there’s more to Canada and this course is my opportunity to learn about the complex stories that create the ever-growing mosaic. Our first book, J. Edward Chamberlin’s If this is your Land, Where are your Stories? summarizes our course and my interest in it. We’re getting a chance to study and discuss stories and how those stories connect us all to this land.

In Stephen Marche’s article about the documentary Being Canadian he claims that to be Canadian is to be invisible when abroad, specifically in the United States, but I find this over-simplified. Canada is diverse and spread not only across our own country, but throughout other countries as well. We may not flaunt or boast about our country, but will always tell the stories. Mike Meyers is proof of this, as Marche has mentioned. Stories are what make us Canadian. Every person on this land has a story about where they came from whether it goes back to a great creator or a grandparent who came across the ocean in a ship.

For me this course is going to broaden my own connection with this country in which my experience is that of an immigrants child. I love reading something when I’ve visited the setting and experienced the actions. The setting becomes part of your home; it’s refreshing and comforting.

So let’s get started.



Works Cited

Cohen, Robert. “Being Canadian: The Movie.” Being Canadian. Grainy Pictures, 2015. Web. 13 May 2016.

I Am Canadian. Dir. Kevin Donovan. Perf. Jeff Douglas. YouTube: Vinko, 2000. Online.

Ferguson, Will. How to Be Canadian Cover. Digital image. Will Ferguson: Books. Will Ferguson, 2000. Web. 13 May 2016.

Marche, Stephen. “What It Really Means to Be Canadian.” Esquire. Hearst Communications, 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 13 May 2016.