Assignment 3.7 – King’s Statements through Interacting Allegories

This blog post will address three themes that emerge in Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water from pages 79-93. The first involves the dialogue between Lionel and Norma, in which they seem to talk past each other in the car on the way to the reserve. The second is in Lionel’s “third mistake” – getting a job as Bill Buffalo Bursum’s Home Entertainment Barn (King, Green Grass 80). The third sees Babo Jones attempting to tell the Old Indians’ creation story to patrolman Jimmy Delano. This post will discuss the allegories that King makes in these sections through the characters, and the possible meanings that the interactions of the allegorical figures might have.

Lionel and Norma

Throughout Green Grass, Running Water, the reader is presented with dialogue between Lionel and his aunt Norma as they drive. During these sections, it might strike the reader that they both seem to talk past each other, not hearing what the other is saying and, instead, talking into the air. Lionel’s treatment of what Norma has to say reflects a kind of ‘not this again’ attitude that one would associate with a stereotypical ‘rebellious teen.’ However, given that King chalks his novel full of allegory and metaphor, the style of this dialogue must have some meaning.

An attitude similar to Lionel’s comes up often in Canadian public opinion toward Aboriginal affairs with the oft-repeated response that First Nations should ‘just get over it,’ and that ‘it’ was ‘in the past.’ We could ‘move on already’ if it weren’t for their stubbornness and reliance on public funds – a reasoning commonly heard. “‘Long time ago, auntie,'” says Lionel (King, Green Grass 33). “‘Can’t change the past'” (ibid.). Given Norma’s constant lament that Lionel is trying to “be a white man” (King, Green Grass 80), his attitude toward her may allude to this popular non-Indigenous Canadian frame of mind. Lionel’s drowsiness as he drives may also aid this allusion, as white Canadians (and their government) may express a ‘tiredness’ of hearing about Indigenous issues.

At this point, Lionel says that he is “just thinking,” and that “some people think when they drive” (King, Green Grass 55-57). Later on, Norma sarcastically states, “You think any harder, you’ll be snoring” (King, Green Grass 79). The Canadian government may frequently say that they are concerned with Aboriginal affairs and are investing resources to work towards a “nation-to-nation relationship,” but they are really just sitting on the issue – sleeping, metaphorically. Lionel blames other things – the wind – for his sleepiness, just as the government may blame other circumstances for their inaction (King, Green Grass 79). He then attempts to set a distraction from his real problems – “‘Boy, if it weren’t for the clouds,’ he said, ‘you could see all the way to the mountains'” (ibid.). Norma sees through it – “‘You could see the mountains real good if you came out to the reserve once in a while'” (ibid.). “Mountains” here may allude to how big this issues are. From the Ottawa, the issues are not present, but on the reserve they are unavoidable.

Lionel and Bill Buffalo Bursum

Lionel’s third mistake, getting a job at Bill Buffalo Bursum’s Home Entertainment Barn, has tremendous meaning when one understands the allegories that King is making with Bursum. Jane Flick notes that ‘Bill Buffalo Bursum’ is a combination of “the names of two men famous for their hostility to Indians,” mainly in the form of exploitation (148). The first is Holm O. Bursum (1867-1953), who, as a New Mexico senator, proposed the Bursum Bill of 1921 (ibid.). This bill “aimed to divest Pueblos of a large portion of their lands and to give land title and water rights to non-Indians” (ibid.). The second is “refers to William F. Cody (1846-1917), an exploiter of Indians for entertainment in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show[1]” (ibid.). Taken together, Bill Buffalo Bursum’s character is a reference to the exploitation of First Nations peoples for both their land and labour. The character’s ignorance towards Natives signifies the objectification of them in the past by the historical figures he alludes to.

Lionel story about getting a job and working at at Bursum’s store reflects the mechanism of this exploitation. Even though Lionel planned to go to school, he is enticed by Bursum to work at the Home Entertainment Barn (King, Green Grass 80). It is interesting to note that King has specifically chosen an entertainment store, further solidifying the allegory to William F. Cody and Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Lionel is then given a flashy gold jacket by the white owner, making him a piece in the white entertainment business.

Importantly, Lionel gets the job expecting to leave after a year, once he has saved up enough to go to university. However, he becomes tied into the job, continually telling himself that he would apply “next year,” but instead, his labour is exploited until the opportunity seems distant and impossible to him (King, Green Grass 83). Similarly, First Nations peoples were enticed by colonial governments to sign agreements that looked appealing in the short term, and that would allow those peoples to carry on afterwards. However, they were intended by the government to be enablers of unending exploitation of land and people. Within the context of Green Grass, Running Water, Bursum enacts one of these exploitative agreements with Lionel through his employment.

Babo Jones and Jimmy Delano

King goes to lengths throughout his text to craft Babo Jones, who is a character reference to a black slave aboard the San Dominick in Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” (Flick 145). As the ships barber, Melville’s character deceives the captain and leads a revolt, guiding those aboard to “freedom in Africa” (ibid.). This allusion is reinforced once when Babo says, “My great-great-great grandfather was a barber on a ship” (King, Green Grass 92), and again when Babo and Dr. Hovaugh cross the border and the border guard assumes that Babo is Hovaugh’s “property” (Flick 159; King, Green Grass 237). Moreover, Melville’s captain of the San Dominick is named Captain Delano, which is a name shared with King’s patrolman Jimmy Delano.

Jimmy Delano, however, may be another character that has multiple meanings outside of the text. Flick believes that he is an allegory for Columbus Delano, head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs under Ulysses S. Grant (146). During his time in office, Delano created the reservation system in order to make space for colonial expansion westward and to expedite the assimilation of Native populations, simultaneously hunting buffalo nearly to extinction and destroying the culture of Indigenous peoples from the plains (ibid.).

In the passage (King, Green Grass 91-93), Babo attempts to retell the creation story of the Old Indians to Jimmy Delano, but she is incapable of getting the story right (likely because it is not her story). Babo, through the book, seems to be fairly ambivalent about the policemen around him, and continually frustrates their efforts to get a story they are comfortable with. In effect, Babo is undermining the efforts of the white authorities to control the narrative. Because Delano’s character has two meanings, this not only cements the allegory to “Benito Cereno,” but serves to decolonize the acts of Columbus Delano.

As we know, King pays a great deal of attention to which stories are told, by whom they are told, and how they are told (King, The Truth About Stories 10). Babo embodies this in his care to tell the story correctly, but King disguises a specific reference to his ideas about the power of stories through the dialogue between Babo and Delano. In the context of the passage, they appear to be talking about straight razors, but the dialogue reads differently when isolated:

“… Have I got stories -”

“Those things are pretty dangerous, aren’t they?” (King, Green Grass 92).


  1. Please note that this article overlooks, excuses, or even supports William F. Cody’s exploitation of Native peoples, and that the views expressed are not supported by me. It is interesting nonetheless to read an example of how “Wild West” characters such as Cody are still popularly celebrated, rather than denigrated, for their colonial acts.


Works Cited

“A New Nation-to-Nation Process.” Liberal Party of Canada, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

Canadian Press. “First Nations Student Presses Trudeau on Third World Living Conditions.” National Observer. Observer Media Group, 28 Apr. 2016. Web. 27 July 2016.

Cooper, Sam. “A Bigotry Engrained in Bones.” The Province. Postmedia Network Inc., 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 July 2016.

Delano, Columbus. “Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1873.” HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust via Washington: G.P.O., 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 27 July 2016.

Flick, Jane. “Readings Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161/162 (1999): 140-172. Web. 27 July 2016.

Historia – Bel99TV. “Buffalo Bill – William F. Cody – Real Film Footage – With His Wild West Show – 1908.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 July 2016.

Hyslop, Stephen G. “How the West was Spun – Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show.” HistoryNet. HistoryNet, 5 Aug. 2008. Web. 27 July 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. Toronto: HarperPerennial, 2007 [1993]. Print.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: Anansi, 2003. Print.

Martinez, Mathew. “All Indian Pueblo Council and the Bursum Bill.” New Mexico History. State Records Center & Archives, n.d. Web. 27 July 2016.

McSorley, Tim. “Government Inaction Has Led to an Independent Database for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.” VICE Canada. VICE Media LLC, 5 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 July 2016.

Melville, Herman. Benito Cereno. Raleigh, N.C.: Generic NL Freebook Publisher, n.d. [1856]. Web. 27 July 2016.

“Pueblo Indians.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 11 May 2015. Web. 27 July 2016.


Filed under Unit III

Assignment 3.5 – The Medicine Wheel as a Thought Model

This blog post will address the following (question seven):

“Describe how King uses the cyclical paradigm of the Medicine Wheel (and a little help from Coyote) to teach us to understand, or at least to try to understand the power behind the stories we tell ourselves” (Paterson n.p.).


The Medicine Wheel is a First Nations thought model that can be recorded as a circle with four quadrants, expressing concepts and relationships in sets of four that signify things such as seasons, stages of life, directions, and elements, among many others (Bell 15). It emphasizes “the importance of appreciating and respecting the ongoing interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all [these] things” (Bell 14). By taking those concepts or subjects which lay on their own as separate and uniting them in a wheel, the Medicine Wheel demonstrates their interplay, and, ultimately, the “encompassing relatedness between everything” (Calliou 50; see also Walker 19).

File 5529

A Medicine Wheel created by Nicole Bell as an Indigenous education framework (Bell 14).

Clearly, the Medicine Wheel exhibits a highly “complex system of [Indigenous] knowledge” (Walker 19). In a seemingly simple way, it shows that the meanings of concepts themselves are necessarily co-constituted, their identification and operation relying on the existence and operation of other concepts. This is a system of thought that prizes a harmonious wholeness – that one should look at entireties as a greater sum of parts while simultaneously realizing that those parts are not identifiable without seeing the whole they create (Bell 15). The production of knowledge in any sense, then, “is a holistic, self-constructed process” (Calliou 53). The grandest of theories and smallest concepts are mutually defined, co-constituted, and reliant on interrelationships to create meaning. This closely follows the post-modern concept of intertextuality, which posits that, as pieces of knowledge are pulled from various places to create a new theory, the stories, narratives, and theories of those original pieces remain connected. Such a concept shows us, as does the Medicine Wheel, that most of all the theories (and stories) we come up with are interconnected and dependent upon each other.

Most importantly, the Medicine Wheel allows one to surpass the binary thought models of a “discourse of differentiation” (Calliou 70), sacrificing the ‘other’ label that invariably results in socio-cultural tension and conflict (Calliou 47). It shows us that “our lives are lived relationally, ‘as a relation among relations'” (Calliou 51). Harming any one of these relationships has a ripple effect that will harm all relationships. Bell alludes to this reliance upon relationships, saying that “interconnections create an environment which is mutually sustaining; where there is a transcending of logic and linear thought to reveal synthesis and dynamic interdependence” (15). Breaking connections within the Wheel means that the constituent parts can no longer be sustained by each other, and the harmony of the system falls apart.

Under such a model of thought, human interaction and morality are guided by a law of relations (Calliou 51), where instead of conceptualizing the self as an autonomous individual or as a cog in a larger community, the self is defined and sustained by its relationships with all other things. Those relationships must invariably be maintained and expanded through “continuous and ongoing reflection of oneself in relation to others” (Bell 15). In this way, balance is maintained and change is embraced by the Medicine Wheel, creating a system of knowledge that is not only “complex,” as Walker says (19), but flexible – universal, communal, and individual at once.

King makes various allusions to the Medicine Wheel throughout his novel, most obviously in the headings of the four sections of the book, which translate into a direction and colour (north is blue, east is red, south is white, and west is black), but also with the Four Old Indians and the four mythical women who fall from the sky who are named to represent the four stages of live (Paterson n.p.). As a thought model that focuses on relationships within and between concepts in groups of four, some of King’s allusions are fairly obvious given that he creates several of these groups for us. However, King also gets at the heart of the Medicine Wheel as First Woman’s call to “mind your relations” appears early in the novel (Green Grass 39). Not only does this explicitly hint at the law of relations, but the idea of relationships and relational meanings carry throughout the book as narratives cross over and affect each other, and as the real/ideal binary is broken down (most often by Coyote).

The Medicine Wheel, then, multiplies the power of the story, expanding its relevance not only to literature itself (see Frye 234), but to all things. By using the Medicine Wheel as a thought model, we can easily see that stories are related to each other, and King makes this very clear through his narrative structure in Green Grass Running Water. However, by taking the model a step further, we gain insight on the relationships between stories and reality, history, ideology, science, and, in fact, all dialogues. Stories themselves are no longer stories, but instead pieces of a larger knowledge base that function in relation to all other theories and pieces of knowledge. The Medicine Wheel shows us that every story we tell, as well as every story we are told, becomes “loose in the world” in both senses that it cannot be recalled, and that it expands to interact with all facets of life, just as all facets of life interact with it (King Truth About Stories 10).

The power of a story with the aid of the Medicine Wheel is that it is capable of reaching and interacting with all things, affecting change both in the imaginary, spiritual, and emotional realms, but also in reality. This power is demonstrated foremost in Green Grass Running Water by Coyote, a Native trickster character. Coyote jumps between all narratives in King’s novel, engaging with the ‘I’ speaker in the novel’s meta-narrative, meeting the Four Old Indians, and then using his stories and movements to affect the real world occupied by King’s (strictly) human characters. Using the power that stories hold with the Medicine Wheel, Coyote is able to alter every realm of the novel, resulting in a cheeky reply: “‘You are one silly Coyote,’ I says. ‘No wonder this world is a mess'” (King, Green Grass 238).


Works Cited

Alfaro, María Jesús Martínez. “Intertextuality: Origins and Development of the Concept.” Atlantis 18.1 (1996): 268-285. Web. 18 July 2016.

Bell, Nicole. “Teaching by the Medicine Wheel: An Anishinaabe Framework for Indigenous Education.” Education Canada 54.3 (2014): 14-16. Web. 18 July 2016.

Calliou, Sharilyn. “Peacekeeping Actions at Home: A Medicine Wheel Model for a Peacekeeping Pedagogy.” First Nations Education in Canada: The Circle Unfolds. Eds. Marie Battiste and Jean Barman. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1995. 47-72. Web. 18 July 2016.

Frye, Northrop. The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination. Introduction by Linda Hutcheon (1995). Concord: Anansi Press, 1971. Print.

King, Thomas. Green Grass Running Water. Toronto: Harper Perennial, 1993. Print.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Tornoto: Anansi Press, 2003. Print.

Laframboise, Sandra and Karen Sherbina. “The Medicine Wheel.” Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society. Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 3.2.” ENGL 470A Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. University of British Columbia, n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.

Walker, Polly. “Journeys Around the Medicine Wheel: A Story of Indigenous Research in a Western University.” The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 29.2 (2001): 18-21. Web. 18 July 2016.


Filed under Unit III

Assignment 3.2 – Myth and Nationality

This blog post will address the following (question six):

Lee Maracle writes:

In order for criticism to arise naturally from within our culture, discourse must serve the same function it has always served. In Euro-society, literary criticism heightens the competition between writers and limits entry of new writers to preserve the original canon. What will its function be in our societies? (88)
In the following paragraphs in her essay, Maracle answers her question describing what she sees to be the function of literary criticism in Salish society. Summarize her answer and then make some comparisons between Maracle and Frye’s analysis of the role of myth in nation building” (Paterson n.p.).


To Lee Maracle, developing a system for literary criticism in Salish society is akin to restoring bodies of knowledge and systems for creating and critiquing that knowledge. Such restoration is needed following extermination vis a vis the Canadian colonial enterprise (Maracle 79). She goes as far as saying that the key to liberating the Salish people (perhaps implying all Indigenous peoples)  lies within both oracy and literature, which hold the “cultural knowledge” needed to escape cultural oppression (Maracle 95). Indeed, and quite unsurprisingly for a society that has existed for millennia, Salish people, through orature and literature, had a developed system of knowledge with diverse schools of thought that reached into and probed the realms of science, philosophy, anthropology, politics, &c (Maracle 89).

Issues arise due to the fact that the Salish lack internal structures and methods through which they can analyse their own literature. Because most Salish literary analysts are educated in Western traditions (Maracle 88-89), they approach Salish literature from a Western standpoint, incapable of examining it through the now-lost “old filters of original knowledge” (Maracle 89). By developing a Salish literary criticism rooted in Salish society, Maracle seeks to systematize and formulate the extensive knowledge held by the Salish people in the past and present (Maracle 95). This, in turn, will allow Salish society to define itself as a nation separate from its European colonizers.

In a separate strain of thought, Northrop Frye notes that “the question of identity is primarily a cultural and imaginative question” (Frye xxi), and thus that identity is confined by the limits of the imagination. Identity, in the context of this post, is national in scope – what we call ‘nationalism,’ or in Canada, ‘Canadianism.’ Nationalism, framed by Frye, is an imaginative mentality, a story built on widely spread myths that connect person to place. Central to Frye’s particular theory of nationalism is “the obvious and unquenchable desire of the Canadian cultural public to identify itself through its literature” (Frye 218).

In turn, literature is defined as “conscious mythology: as society develops, its mythical stories become structured principles of storytelling, [and] its mythical concepts … become habits of metaphorical thought” (Frye 234). Nationalism, then, is based on the mythological stories formulated in a national canon. The myth forms a “vision of a social ideal” towards which a society strives (Frye 240). This social ideal, the flag under which a nation rallies, is reflected by “‘popular’ literature,” which has the goal of “[persuading] us to accept existing social values” (Frye 237). We then formulate our national identities, and indeed our literature, through the framework of those values.

In terms of Canadian national identity, Frye claims that, instead of being based on myth, “the Canadian literary mind” is based on history (Frye 233). Canadianism is a consequence of a particular historical bias, not a mythological one. This is because myth does not have the basis to form in Canada to the extent needed for create a solidified national identity, according to Frye. Problems of national identity, what Frye calls “the mystique of Canadianism” (Frye 222), arise due to cultural revolutions that have occurred to quickly and too often to allow for the development of a literary foundation (Frye 221). This foundation must exist before a canon of literature can develop to refine the myth of ‘nation,’ as forms of literature “cannot be derived from any experience outside of literature” itself (Frye 234). Thus, Canadian national identity must be based in history rather than myth, though it may strive for a foundation in the latter.

Frye claims that “Canadian literature … is an indispensable aid to the knowledge of Canada” (Frye 217), being the primary way that we record our imagination. The accepted canon of Canadian literature, regardless of how developed it may be, not only aids knowledge of Canada, but creates and frames that knowledge as Canadian. Through some of the methods that Frye alludes to, canonization in this way creates a more or less static foundation of literature that can then be analyzed and critiqued by literary ‘experts.’ Knowledge pertaining to that literary canon (which is representative of a national identity) is thereby produced, encoded, and replicated. This process plays a large role in forming and solidifying the myth of Canada as a nation.

Maracle advocates for a system of literary critique internal to Salish society because she realizes the power that this process holds. Indeed, the ability to internally criticize literature and knowledge would allow Salish people to invent a Salish myth of nationalism by drawing borders around their own knowledge and traditions of recording that knowledge. It is at this point that the theories of Maracle and Frye intersect. Both recognize the role that literature plays in informing a collective identity, and the power that literary critique holds by creating a national literary canon.

When the nation is framed as a myth, Thomas King’s statement that “we [Indigenous peoples] are about story and nothing else” is no longer the insult that Maracle takes it to be (quoted in Maracle 82). In fact, Maracle herself is attempting to find a way to create a national myth – a story – in order to reclaim Salish knowledge, culture, heritage, and society. Similarly, Frye is utilizing Canadian literature to create a national myth of Canadianism. Ultimately, both implicitly or explicitly concede that “ideas are weapons” (Frye 229) and that stories are power in the sense that they can be used to invent and harness the raw power of nationalism, or to reclaim a lost sense of togetherness.


Works Cited

Frye, Northrop. The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination. Introduction by Linda Hutcheon. Concord, ON: House of Anansi Press, 1995. Print.

Maracle, Lee. “Toward a National Literature: ‘A Body of Writing.'” Across Cultures, Across Borders: Canadian Aboriginal and Native American Literature. Ed. Paul DePasquale, Renate Eigenbrod, and Emma LaRoque. Toronto, ON: Broadview Press, 2010. 77-96. Print.

“Nationalism as a Cause of World War I.” Alpha History. Alpha History, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 3.1.” ENGL 470A Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. University of British Columbia, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.

“Xá:ytem/Hatzic Rock National Historic Site of Canada.” Canada’s Historic Places. Parks Canada, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.


Filed under Unit III

Assignment 2.6 – Epistemology and the Authenticity of History

This blog post will address the following (question five): “’To raise the question of ‘authenticity’ is to challenge not only the narrative but also the ‘truth’ behind Salish ways of knowing’ (Carlson 59). Explain why this is so according to Carlson, and explain why it is important to recognize this point” (Paterson n.p.)


It is not surprising that authenticity, especially the authenticity of history, is defined differently by different peoples. The way which we formulate ‘fact’ or ‘knowledge,’ our epistemology, is based on precepts that lay at the cores of our societies and cultures. The point that Carlson is making is that questioning the authenticity of another society’s history is equal to debasing all that society knows. The question of historical authenticity holds within it a quiet attack on epistemology, a society’s theory of truth. Without recognizing the implications of such a question, one risks furthering conflict and tension, and a conflict over epistemology is hardly tractable. The stem of that conflict, for Carlson and others, is the point of departure between literary and oral accounts of history.

However, when roots of each society’s theory of knowledge are exposed, the question of historical authenticity may end in mutual agreement. It will be argued herein that, epistemologically, Western and Indigenous traditions are not as different as they seem, and that the (assumed) literacy/orality chasm is merely a superficiality that one can fall easily into.

Literacy is dominant in European and Western societies. It is the main way that knowledge is created. recorded and legitimized within those societies. In order to create knowledge in academia, for example, one must publish a written work in a recognized journal or with a recognized publisher. Through this method, the words that they write are acknowledged as ‘knowledge’ by the society broadly. If one is able to publish in a more acclaimed journal or with a better known publisher, the knowledge they create will be taken more seriously. (Although this traditional approach is being accompanied increasingly by newer approaches through digital media and alternative academic sources, those sources are largely literary, and the traditional approach is still dominant).

One of the goals of this course, however, is to explore the epistemologies of those outside the Western tradition – namely, Canada’s First Peoples. Frequently, in those cultures, ‘knowledge’ and ‘fact’ come to be through orality as opposed to literacy. Histories are recalled through the oral tellings of them by certain people who have the authority to do so in circumstances where it is customary, and strict cultural guidelines ensure that each history remains intact over time (Carlson 57).

At first glance, no compelling reason appears for these two traditions to be in conflict at all; they are different, but they do not step on each other’s toes. Both have methods for creating knowledge, and both have working methods for maintaining that knowledge over time. In other words, both have legitimate and systematic ways of formulating and telling histories. The conflict between literacy and orality sparks, as Carlson notes, when one “[raises] the question of ‘authenticity'” of the other’s epistemology (59). This (unnecessarily) results in  a fundamental duality between a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of creating knowledge.

Carlson discusses this conflict in a way that harmfully exacerbates it: “Among literate Westerners, historical accuracy is measured in relation to verifiable evidence,” whereas “within the Salish world, … 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” (57). The seemingly intractable divide between Western and Salish epistemology has been laid out – the literate West requires an agreeable (systematic) interpretation of scientific evidence, and the oral Salish require reputable individuals whose rendition of history must be publicly accepted.

If one wishes to frame these two epistemologies as radically different, as Carlson and indeed many others do, they do so to the detriment of all of us (everyone). Instead, there is little difference between these two epistemological traditions beyond the medium through which they most frequently record knowledge – one on paper, and the other through spoken word. In other important respects, these theories of knowledge are similar. Both exclude the creation of knowledge only to those with the granted authority to do so; both require that histories do not counter those prior without very good reason; both rest on citation or “oral footnotes” in reference to other truth-telling authorities (Carlson 57); and both hold heavy punishments for “conveyors of poor history” (ibid.; see also Carlson 59). It is unlikely that this list is exhaustive. Indeed, the “common concern over the accuracy of historical narratives” that both societies hold has driven them to embrace thorough epistemologies that are similar in almost all foundational respects (Carlson 57). In the words of Ted Chamberlin, both are performing comparable ‘ceremonies’ where knowledge is created and ‘truth’ is decided upon, and these common “ceremonies of belief offer a way beyond conflicts between cultures” (218).

We need not drive a stake between the epistemologies held by the groups with which we are concerned in this course (Indigenous and Western). To do so severely hinders the progress that both wish to make in their relationships with each other. Focusing on the superficialities of how each records ‘knowledge,’ whether through literacy or orality, blinds us from seeing the mass of commonality below the politically charged surface. Although we should be cautious about questioning the authenticity of another culture’s knowledge, we should not assume that such a question is an inherent attack. Much more can be gained by comparatively examining the fundamentals of both cultures’ theories of knowledge, and working up from there. In this case, “to raise the question of ‘authenticity'” is ultimately to agree upon, not challenge, our “ways of knowing” (Carlson 59).


Works Cited

Carlson, Keith Thor. “Orality about Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History.” Orality and Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines. Ed. Keith Thor Carlson, Kristina Fagan, and Natalia Khanenko-Frieson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011. 43-69. Print.

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2004. Print.

Lupton, Deborah. ‘Feeling Better Connected’: Academics’ Use of Social Media. Canberra: News and Media Research Centre, University of Canberra, 2014. Web. 29 June 2016.

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 2.3.” ENGL 470A Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. University of British Columbia. Web. 29 June 2016.

Steup, Mattias. “Epistemology.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. 14 Dec. 2005. Web. 29 June 2016.


Filed under Unit II

Assignment 2.4 – Difficulties of Historical Interpretation in Lutz’s “First Contact as Spiritual Performance”

This blog post will address the following (question three): We began this unit by discussing assumptions and differences that we carry into our class. In “First Contact as Spiritual Performance,” Lutz makes an assumption about his readers (Lutz, “First Contact” 32). He asks us to begin with the assumption that comprehending the performances of the Indigenous participants is “one of the most obvious difficulties.” He explains that this is so because “one must of necessity enter a world that is distant in time and alien in culture, attempting to perceive indigenous performance through their eyes as well as those of the Europeans.” Here, Lutz is assuming either that his readers belong to the European tradition, or he is assuming that it is more difficult for a European to understand Indigenous performances – than the other way around. What do you make of this reading? Am I being fair when I point to this assumption? If so, is Lutz being fair when he makes this assumption?” (Paterson n.p.)


Given only the quote above, it does appear that Lutz is addressing a European audience and assuming that there will be an inherent difficulty when non-Indiegnous people attempt to interpret Indigenous performances of a time long past. Though overgeneralized and (perhaps hazardously) sweeping, this statement makes a valid point. Given the silencing of Indigenous stories and histories, it is unlikely that anything beyond a small minority of his non-Indigenous audience will be able to comfortably comprehend Indigenous performances in contact events. A lack of contextual experience and knowledge of Indigenous heritage and culture presents a legitimate barrier to the non-Indigenous observer.

There would be issues if the above quote was all that Lutz had said on the matter. For example, would the opposite be true? Would his Indigenous audience encounter “obvious difficulties” when attempting to perceive European performances (Lutz, “First Contact” 32)? Does his European audience suffer no difficulty when interpreting European performances, and Indigenous people Indigenous performances? If the given statement is all that Lutz says, Paterson would be quite right in pointing out his assumptions and remaining skeptical.

However, Lutz says much more, balancing the statement that has been addressed. He follows: “The key and usually unremarked problem is that we have insufficient distance from our own and our ancestors’ world view” (Lutz, “First Contact” 32). Not only is Lutz pointing out that there are inherent difficulties in European interpretation of Indigenous performance, but that there are more deeply buried difficulties in European interpretation of European performance. Although Lutz assumes that his audience is primarily non-Indigenous, the mind does not need to stretch to apply the same argument to Indigenous readers. Every person meets a barrier when attempting to comprehend the performances given by either their ancestors or the ‘others’ in the distant (and idealized) past.

This astute observation is what prompts Lutz to present the challenge “to step outside and see one’s own culture as alien and to discern the mythic in the performances of one’s own histories” (“First Contact” 32). Because anyone will meet difficulty  in the comprehension of performance whether he/she realizes it or not, we should view the past with a realistic temporal detachment. Eighteenth century thought is far different from our own, and this likely holds for European and Indigenous cultures alike. The culture of European settlers, though maybe foundationally similar, is otherwise quite removed from European or Western culture today. This is what renders it alien and what begs one to remove themselves and observe the mythology present.

What Lutz is really attempting to do, then, is to call for the recognition of cultural difference over time regardless of current identity. When we assume that Europeans then and Europeans now have the same culture, we will misinterpret their performances and remain blind to the mythology that Lutz goes to lengths to demonstrate. In the same way, it would be hubristic to assume that Indigenous culture has remained static since the 18th century. Rational actions of any people are “[codes] for particular cultural beliefs” bounded by temporal, spatial, and social context, and it is our duty to understand that context as best we can regardless of our ancestry (Lutz, “First Contact” 33). Indeed, we must place both histories under “the same ethnohistorical lens, asking the same questions of different stories” (“First Contact” 32).

When we now observe Lutz’s full statement, we can see that Indigenous stories remain “distant in time and alien in culture” to both European and Indigenous observers (Lutz, “First Contact” 32). With Lutz’s full intentions brought to light, Paterson’s skepticism has less basis due to the incorrect assumptions it makes about what Lutz is trying to show us. We must “[identify] the mythology and the history embedded in stories that emerge from both indigenous and European contact stories, treating both as equally credible and incredible” (Lutz, “Myth Understandings” 5; emphasis added).

What Lutz is doing, telling us that we need to step out of our own cultural heritages and examine them as alien to us, follows a critique against an academic tradition in history known as modernization theory. The essence of modernization theory is that through it, history is studied as a progressive (Western) trajectory of evolving political systems and structures. The largest issue with this is that the context of the social world is ignored. Clearly, it is not fair for a contemporary historian to point at Grecian phalanx warfare and say that they did not understand fighting because they had no concept of guerrilla tactics. A more comprehensive look at history involving social realities of the day allows us to understand that norms, customs, traditions, and beliefs are what lead people to act in ways that seem alien to us today.

When Lutz tells us that we need to step out of our own cultures, he is asking us to recognize that, in fact, we live in a different reality than our distant ancestors did, and that there are always hazards in the translation of their history (Lutz, “Myth Understandings” 10). To properly comprehend their actions and the consequences of them, we must account for the stories that they heard, the beliefs that they held, and the traditions that they engaged in. When we look at history, we indeed do “enter a world that is distant in time and alien in culture” no matter who we are or which side of history we are examining (Lutz, “First Contact” 32).


Works Cited

Lorenz, Chris. “‘Won’t You Tell Me, Where Have All the Good Times Gone’? On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Modernization Theory for History.” Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice 10.2 (2006): 171-200. Web. 17 June 2016.

Lutz, John Sutton. “First Contact as a Spiritual Performance: Encounters on the North American West Coast.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indigenous-European Contact. Ed. John Sutton Lutz. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007. 1-14. Print.

Lutz, John Sutton. “Myth Understandings: First Contact, Over and Over Again.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indigenous-European Contact. Ed. John Sutton Lutz. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007. 1-14. Print.

Mark, Joshua J. “The Greek Phalanx.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 June 2016.

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 2:2.” ENGL 470A Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. University of British Columbia. Web. 15 June 2016.

Thiesmeyer, Lynn Janet. Discourse and Silencing: Representation and the Language of Displacement. Philadelphia: John Benjamins B.V., 2003. Web. 17 June 2016.

TRU, Open Learning. “Dr. John Lutz Question 4 – Early contact between Aboriginals and explorers.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 17 June 2016.


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Assignment 2.3 – Home as Identity

Conceptions of Home seem to vary widely between individuals, but there are underlying similarities. Home seems to be at its core a feeling. It can be linked to a place, a history, a representation of one’s values, or some other thing. Most importantly, Home is an integral part of one’s identity. After reading several of my classmates’ entries, it has become evident that one feels at Home when one is at some place, with some person, or doing some thing that they believe defines who they are.

When Home is equated with individual identity, it becomes a far more important and powerful concept than if it were to only refer to a location. Further, Home can be a concept bigger than an individual, as something that an entire group identifies with. Here we enter the struggles for Home that colonialism has created for both settler and native. I will go through some of the conceptualizations of Home I found in my peers’ entries and explain this concept of Home as identity.

Home can be a place, or an attachment to a physical location (Alanna Joy). This is not limited to one location, but can be several or many locations of varying size and scope. Just as the number of locations does not matter, neither does where those locations are. They will be different for each individual, because each individual will identify with a given place differently. Joy never had a “home base,” but she still felt at Home in various different places. The sense of comfort brought on by each physical location is a result of the way that Joy self-identifies, and how much each location becomes part of her identity. As I said above, this has grander political implications when identity is described collectively, as the claims to Home become larger (in distance) and stronger.

Home can be a “state of mind” (Victoria Woo). Like Joy, Woo finds Home in various locations but concludes that “our emotions and subjective feelings … inform our attachment to physical features in place, and collectively, contribute to feelings of ‘home.'” For her, Home can be tied to place, but Home is not inherently place. Home is something that exists as a feeling or an attachment towards a place. Again, she feels as though each of these places are part of her identity, or build themselves up to be part of her identity, giving them importance.

Home can also be a person (Heather James). James’ brother and her relationship with him are both integral parts of her identity. I am likely becoming quite repetitive by now, but Home is by nature a feeling for James that results from the way that she self-identifies.

I would expand these conceptions of Home to include Home as an action. One might feel at Home playing an instrument, or playing a sport, or driving a car, or sitting on a park bench. In any case, one would say that activity is an integral part of their identity, thus making it Home to him/her.

Home is a feeling of comfort brought on by personal or group conceptions of identity, which means that Home could really be anything. As I alluded to above, this may not have major sociopolitical implications on a personal level. However, when the identity of a larger group is tied to a particular thing as Home, competition from another group to sequester that thing would be met with defensiveness. A group’s identity is its key to existence – without having a thing with which we can collectively identify, who are we? – and when that group’s Home is being threatened, it is not simply a question of having a place to live, but a question of survival.

With knowledge of the importance of Home to identity, it is hubristic to play off another’s concerns over the loss of their Home as petty. Given this, understanding that Home is integral to another’s identity is at the core of reducing unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding. Acknowledging the way that Home is truly conceptualized forces one to make concessions and considerations for others at times when conflict would otherwise result.


Works Cited

James, Heather. “Home.” Heather James: ENGL 470A. WordPress, 9 June 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

Joy, Alanna. “Assignment 2.2.” Alanna’s English 470 Blog. WordPress, 7 June 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

Woo, Victoria. “2.2 – Stories About ‘Home’.” Journeying Through ENGL 407: Oh Canada. WordPress, 5 June 2016. Web. 10 June 2016.

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Assignment 2.2 – Home

“Home” seems to be conflated often with a sense of ownership or right to ownership. If someone owns a house, it is called their Home. Legal right to a property makes it Home. A Canadian resident calls Canada their Home. In that sense, Canada is not properly Home to those of European descent, but rather it is the Home of Canada’s First Peoples. This is Home as a physical territory. That territory acts symbolically, with stories giving it its meaning and importance. Ultimately, though, the stories told that make a place home are tied to that physical place itself. Home in this sense implies that one has the right to tell stories that make that land theirs, and that grant them rightful ownership of that land, their Home.

This definition of Home, however, is contentious. One cannot be surprised that, when multiple stories are told about a single territory, there will be conflict. Home does not have to be defined in a way that causes contention over physical territory. Rather, Home can be defined as a feeling. I don’t mean this in the “home is where the heart is” or “home is where one hangs their hat” way, but that Home exists where comfort and familiarity exists. Where one feels they can be themselves fully, away from pressures causing discomfort, grief, or doubt. When one’s identity is crafted by and reflective of the places and people that one interacts with, they will feel at Home. This is far closer to what Chamberlin is getting at when he refers to the homelessness of Aboriginals – it is not so much an absence of a tangible shelter, but rather a feeling of being sheltered (78).

That is where Home is for me. I was born in Vancouver, but moved to Calgary before I could remember much of anything about the rainy city. I was raised in Calgary, which was either too cold or too hot, but the familiarity of the places, people, and erratic weather is what made that place Home for me. And it wasn’t all of Calgary that was Home, but only one neighbourhood called Lake Bonavista. Lake Bonavista is the place where I built my identity as a child and adolescent, and the people there identified with me. I want to stress that although Lake Bonavista was Home, I felt absolutely no sense of ownership or control over that environment. I felt no preexisting right to be there. The point is that one does not have to own a place for it to be Home, unless owning it is part of the sense required to be at Home. At that point I probably would have been less comfortable owning anything.

Following a twelve year stint in Alberta, I moved to South Surrey with my parents following a job my father was promoted to. At first, there was no way that my new surroundings could feel like Home. I know no one, nor any place. Again, this was not a result of me not having a shelter, or what they call a “home.” It was far more true that I was no longer at Home. My identity at the time was built elsewhere and tied to far away things and people. As it goes, however, after the years I grew more familiar with my surroundings, and after some time I felt at Home. I had friends, I had a strong bearing on my surroundings, and I had situated myself with where I was. I identified with my surroundings and they identified with me. I was Home.

Moving out to UBC was not a large jump for me. South Surrey is only about an hour and thirty minute bus ride away. I did fine moving out here, and I had friends from high school to do it with. Of course it was an adjustment, but I never felt the same Homelessness that I did in the move from Calgary.

I went and visited friends in Calgary this winter (do not go to Calgary in the winter unless you know what you are getting yourself into). I was expecting to feel a kind of melancholy when I got there, perhaps for missing what I thought I would consider my “true Home.” However, I felt no attachment to the place at all. Instead, I felt slightly alienated. Calgary is not my Home anymore. My Home is now out in Vancouver with the people that I know and the places that I go. My identity is built from those places and people.

For me, Home is an idea, and that idea is borne out of the stories that I tell to myself and to others. Familiarity with situations (even familiarity with unfamiliarity) and comfort with myself is that which makes me feel Home. And so, as idiomatic as it may be, it might be true that Home is where the heart is – the heart being the identity of the self. If the way we personally identify matches and is approved by our surroundings, we feel safe, comfortable, and at Home. I do not think that the implications of this are profound, but rather that we already know it. It might be a slightly dominant narrative that Home is tied to ownership, but we know better. We know that Home is tied to our identity. “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are,” and Home is one of those stories (King 2).


Works Cited

“Alerts for: City of Calgary.” Government of Canada, 6 June 2016. Web. 6 June 2016.

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2004. Print.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press Inc, 2003. Print.

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Assignment 1.5 – The Story That Created Evil

The Story That Created Evil

There was a time when all things were seen as one. Nature, the animals, and all of the ideas, discussions, and stories between them were brought together in a common identity. They were entirely singular in their diversity, and with their singularity existed harmony. All of the trees and the ants and the people and the rest knew they were different things, of course, but they also knew that their difference was the key to their success. The flowers needed the bees, and the wolves needed the caribou, and the humans needed the fish. Everything and everyone thrived in the harmony, even though they knew it meant that they may have to kill or be killed, use or surrender to violence. Harmony included the violence, but it did not include the evil. The evil could not exist in such a place.

As time passed, the world grew. More animals and things took up the space that they all shared, and for the harmony to continue existing, it was necessary that a level of order was maintained among all of the beings. At first, of course, the concept of leadership was welcome, as it was simply another part of everything. Those who led also saw themselves as part of the harmony of the world, reliant on those who they led. All were still one, and the harmony was maintained.

It was this way until a great leader began to question the way things were. “I am not a fish or a tree,” this leader said. “I am not the water or the grass or the sky. I have nothing to do with those things. I am above them, and I am the master of them.” This leader told those that were led this story. It was a new way of seeing the world not in terms of harmony, where all were reliant and obligated to each other, but where all were opposed. It was a story of fact and fiction, of animate and inanimate, of us and them, of winner and loser. And of good and evil. Because all believed in the harmony of things, it was widely accepted that the great leader’s story should be heeded.

Yet there were those who protested. “This story is dangerous, and we should not hear it. This story has destroyed the harmony of things and of the world. It will bring nothing but conflict and needless harm to all.” What they did not realize, however, is that “once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world” (King 10). It was too late, and all were grasped by its opposition and discord. Even those who called the the return to harmony were trapped by the story, and they were only able to attack the story head on, arguing against it in the dichotomous terms that it had created.

Since that story was told, there has been no returning to the harmony and peaceful coexistence that was. With that story came all things evil, as well as all things holy. By giving birth to opposition, the story brought forth unending conflict that will exist until, somehow, a new story is told and accepted by all.



I would not be surprised if you found some of J. Edward Chamberlin’s thought in here. That’s because it is in here. I do believe that one of our greatest philosophical challenges will be overcoming the conflict that is borne from binary thought. That is what this story is about – evil and good/holy are both created at once by the telling of a story that allows us (and, indeed, forces us) to see the world in terms of opposition and easy categorization. I wanted to create a story about the beginning of Evil that uses dichotomy because I actually believe that is at the root of it. This course is all about how stories shape perceptions and define identities and et cetera, so it seems entirely possible that the first person to define the world in these terms created the concepts of good and evil. It had to happen at some point.

As one would expect, this story came out differently every time as I told it orally. This was not unexpected. What I did find interesting is that I was far more comfortable with it once it was written down. Erika Paterson discusses the power of oral storytelling, most of which she says stems from the side of the listener rather than the teller. “The listener has far greater power to change the story,” engaging in an active interpretation with the storyteller at the time the story is told (Paterson n.p.). I believe that, perhaps, this is why I felt more comfortable writing my story rather than telling it orally. I did not have to engage with an audience. I did not have to explain anything beyond where I thought it should be explained. I could create points that were more open to interpretation than others, rather than interrupt the story with explanation for the listener. It was more intentional, the cadence was purposeful, and each sentence did what I wanted it do.

Moreover, my comfort likely came from the fact that I’ve never really engaged in oral storytelling of this kind. It felt forced and formal. At times it felt silly. I’ve been writing for far longer, and I’ve been presenting these ideas in a written format far more often, aside from formal debates and informal discussions with peers and academics.

This will take a lot more exploration on my part, but maybe it will spur discussion below. All kinds of stories are powerful – we know this from reading both Chamberlin and King. However, Paterson lends credence to oral storytelling over literary storytelling. I am fielding discussion here, but perhaps no one is better or more powerful than the other. Both types of storytelling hold immense power, but different power. At times these powers may compliment, and at times (as I found) they may conflict. Thus, some stories should be told orally, some literarily, and some in both forms. Maybe it all depends on which story is being told, and by whom, and to whom. What do you think?


Works Cited

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press Inc, 2003. Print.

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 1:2 Story & Literature.” ENGL 420A Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. University of British Columbia. Web. 30 May 2016.

Walt, Stephen M. “It’s Time to Abandon the Pursuit for Great Leaders.” Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy, 3 March 2016. Web. 30 May 2016.

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Assignment 1.3 – Reflections on Chamberlin

In telling the story of a Gitksan land claim (219-221), Chamberlin touches on a familiar point alluded to many times throughout If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?, but there is a certain culmination of all his prior points in this particular story. It is the “scientific ceremony” (Chamberlin 220). It is science as a story, as a fiction, and scientific method as a ceremony of belief. This thought brings me to Adam Smith’s History of Astronomy. He asks why human beings theorize at all, coming to the conclusion that it is to quell uncertainty when faced by wonder or fear. Rather than an “abstract drive for truth,” scientific inquiry is spurned by “promptings of anxiety” and discomfort with the observable world (Heilbroner 15). Through classification and categorization, we create order and, importantly, comfort. Science, then, is a story that we believe because it is part of a ceremony that we have created in order to make a ‘reality’ out of reality. A view of science as such allows us to pair it with other sources of knowledge and belief, strengthening a common ‘reality’ across cultures.


My attention was also caught by the story that Chamberlin tells of a woman named Martha Demientieff, who was stricken with grief following the death of a close friend (205). She lay on a barge on the Yukon River, listening first to the sound of the ice breaking up, then flowing down the river, hitting the barge in large pieces, and then as smaller chunks as time passed. Eventually, all she heard was the sound of the river flowing. This is the story that Demientieff related to her grief for her lost friend, and it is a story that allows her experience to resonate with those who hear or read it.

Demeintieff’s story  shows us how story can be used to create a kind of territory that a reader or listener can use to ground an abstract concept in human experience. This power of stories should be harnessed in teaching philosophy. In postmodern theory, where little is grounded and almost all is conceptual, story is a powerful ground that can be used to inspire understanding. Non-positive arguments that do not follow the institutional preference for positivism require belief. Bridging the contradiction between imaginary and real, story can advance a critical, postmodern attitude in ways that strictly academic language will never be able to accomplish.


The concept of “underlying title” gets at that heart of what this course is about – it is a story about ownership, or right, or privilege (Chamberlin 229). Such title is fiction, a “trick,” and it embraces a contradiction between reality and imagination (ibid.). “Why not change the underlying title back to aboriginal title?” (ibid.). Chamberlin argues that a change in story “wouldn’t change anything at all” (230), and that his property would remain his due to the protection of “the courts and Parliament” (231). All that would change are our understandings by replacing one fiction with another.

Here, I believe that he is wrong. Those executive and judicial bodies have the power to protect Chamberlin’s property precisely because of the current story of underlying title. To change that story would be to invert the power held – it would flip our understandings of Us and Them, of where Us and Them come from. Yes, “we’ll get used to it” (Chamberlin 231), but the practical implications are far less shruggable than Chamberlin makes them out to be.

I do not mean to enter a discussion on justice or morality. I am not saying that underlying title should lie with any particular person or group. Rather, I am highlighting that Chamberlin glazes over tremendous changes that would occur should the story be changed. It is not enough to posit that “the lawyers would work it out” (Chamberlin 231). The lawyers, with legal power granted to them through standing institutions, all of which converge at some point with the story of settler’s underlying title, would be of no effect. This does not refute what I believe is Chamberin’s more central message, but rather bolsters it. This kind of change that would affect such a large number of people is the true power of a story.


Works Cited

“Aboriginal Title.” Defenders of the Land. Defenders of the Land, n.d. Web. 19 May 2016.

“Aboriginal Title.” Indigenous Foundations. The University of British Columbia, n.d. Web. 19 May 2016.

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2004. Print.

Feigl, Herbert. “Positivism.” Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016Web. 19 May 2016.

Heilbroner, Robert L. The Essential Adam Smith. New York: W.W. Norton, 1987. Print.

Kwangsu, Kim. “Adam Smith’s ‘History of Astronomy’ and View of Science.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 36.4 (2012): 799-820. Web. 19 May 2016.


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Hello, It’s Me.

Hi there. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Nick. I make cheap Adele jokes.

I was going to begin by telling you which year I’m in, but given that it’s the summer term, I’m not exactly sure whether or not I am in my third or fourth year. Ultimately, it’s up to you. I major in International Relations with a focus on political theory and philosophy. Stepping into the realm of literature studies is somewhat different for me, but exciting nonetheless. A year ago, I was involved in creating a provincial arts and culture policy framework, a process that had me very engaged with many artists and cultural workers around the province. Finally getting my academic hands dirty with the literary arts is something I am looking forward to. My non-academic identity is that of a musician – a drummer, to be exact. Here is a handful of the projects I’ve taken part in. Pictured below is me and Jackie Chan.


This is a blog that will follow a course offered by the English department at UBC titled “Canadian Studies.” Broadly, this course examines the creation of particular, and perhaps universalizing, narratives about Canada, Canada’s history, and the stories of Canadians. Specifically, this course focuses on how Canadian literature is canonized in a way that serves to further a colonial project and silence marginalized or less mainstream narratives, such as those of Canada’s Indigenous population. Given that the Government of Canada just signed on as “a full supporter, without qualification,” of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this course serves to carve a much-needed path forward in the understanding of Canadian historical and contemporary landscape. For the success of the coveted “nation-to-nation dialogue,” simple dialogue is hardly enough. Each party must listen to, engage with, and understand the stories of their partner, and this Canadian Studies course provides a gateway for just that.

Much of my study in IR revolves around the creation of knowledge. Who gets to claim truth? Who decides what “fact” means? The way stories are told and the way that narratives are formed determine how we perceive ourselves, however largely “we” is conceived. I hope that the course will serve as a venture below the meta-theoretical. By examining texts in both European and Indigenous canons, I hope to gain the intellectual wealth there is to be had by listening to stories that are heard infrequently. Beyond just talking about how uncovering certain narratives might benefit our conceptual capacities, it is my expectation that this course will give me the experience I need to push my own thinking in a way that is more expansive, more plural, and more hungry.


Works Cited

“BC Creative Convergence.” Alliance for Arts + Culture. Alliance for Arts + Culture, n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.

“Nick Babey.” SoundCloud. SoundCloud, n.d. Web. 12 May 2016.

“United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Government of Canada. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 9 May 2016. Web. 12 May 2016.


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