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The Truth About Stories - Thomas King - Lecture 1 - YouTube
[Lecture 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daw7cGjrORE
Lecture 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CICKluOS9Ic
Lecture 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgJEMPf1hSE
Lecture 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW2ETIxnYyo ]

[See also: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-2003-cbc-massey-lectures-the-truth-about-stories-a-native-narrative-1.2946870

"In his 2003 Massey lecture, award-winning author and scholar Thomas King looks at the breadth and depth of Native experience and imagination.

Beginning with Native oral stories, King weaves his way through literature and history, religion and politics, popular culture and social protest, in an effort to make sense of North America's relationship with its Aboriginal peoples.

Thomas King holds a PhD in English/American Studies from the University of Utah and has taught Native Studies at Utah, California, Minnesota, and Alberta for the past twenty-five years. He is currently Professor of English (teaching Native Literature and Creative Writing) at the University of Guelph. His widely-acclaimed novels include Medicine River, Green Grass, Running Water, and Truth and Bright Water, and he has been nominated for the Governor General's Award as well as the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. He is the editor of All My Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction, and co-editor of The Native in Literature: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives. His popular CBC series, The Dead Dog Café, is being adapted as an animated television series. His father was Cherokee, his mother is Greek, and King is the first Massey lecturer of Native descent."]
thomasking  storytelling  secondaryorality  2003  literature  history  experience  indigenous  aboriginal  fistnations 
may 2017 by robertogreco
My Emerging Future: The Stories I Live as First Nations Abroad - Long View on Education
"It was in university when I read Thomas King that I first heard the phrase “passing for white”, and everything clicked. And in the very next instant I recoiled: was I stealing whiteness and wrapping myself in it?

In my life, I have only experienced white privilege: I look white, my name sounds like it could be German. My grandpa looked ‘visually Indian’ and I can’t imagine the discrimination that he faced throughout his life. But the privilege of passing for white is complex because it also means that many First Nations people are invisible. Were Thomas King giving a lecture on Shakespeare, you might not even know he is an Indian. Thus, the desire that I have often felt to be more “visually Indian”. I often feel too pale, and when my skin quickly turns golden brown in the sun, I feel somewhat more at home in my body.

But of course that desire to be visible is one that I, and King, can afford. King says, “Middle-class Indians, such as myself, can, after all, afford the burden of looking Indian. There’s little danger that we’ll be stuffed into the trunk of a police cruiser and dropped off out the outskirts of Saskatoon.”

King talks about his own desire to have been more “visually Indian”, and with his mix of comedy and pain, he tells a story of how his prom date turned him down because her dad didn’t want her dating Mexicans.

I’m not culturally connected to the Six Nations community, and now that I have made Brussels my home, it’s unlikely that I will develop those connections. For a long time I felt at fault for that lack of connection. But being disconnected isn’t my fault, or my parents’ fault – it’s the intentional erasure carried out by settler colonialism, which is supposed to turn Indians into white people. Or kill them. In Canada, it’s doing both.

Every year, I play Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk about the dangers of a single story for my class. We have so many single stories that reduce people to stereotypes and strip away their humanity: about what girls can’t do and how women should look; about the criminality or entertainment value of Black people; about the danger immigrants and refugees pose to society; about the uselessness of people with disabilities or mental illness, and burden of the elderly.

I ask my kids, are all single stories dangerous? What about the story that all Canadians are nice?

You can see where I’m going, but my students fall for it.

When I accompanied students on a field trip to Normandy, we had some time on Juno beach. Both my grandfathers arrived in Europe shortly after d-Day. The one story of my maternal (white) grandfather is a relatively straightforward war story to tell, as far as those stories go. The other, about my grandpa Doxtdator, is more difficult to relate because at the same time as soldiers ‘fought for our freedom’, the Canadian government stole land known as Ipperwash from the Chippewa people in 1942 and turned it into a military training camp. In fact, both of my grandfathers trained at Ipperwash, stolen land that wouldn’t be fully returned until 2016, over twenty years after Dudley George was killed by the Ontario Provincial Police during a protest in 1995. During an inquiry into the shooting of George, OPP officers are on tape saying that they have “tried to pacify and pander to these people far too long”, and Mike Harris, the Premier of Ontario reportedly said, “I want the fucking Indians out of the park.”

When my grandpa Doxtdator returned from the war, he also returned to the ongoing ‘residential school‘ system, that removed Native children from their families, stripped them from their culture, experimented on them, and ultimately resulted in the deaths of 6,000 children. This system only officially came to an end in 1996.

When my grandpa Doxtdator returned from the war, he also returned with one less eye.

As an English teacher, I take representation seriously. As a student that never saw a living Indian in my school curriculum, I take representation personally. And that’s not to ignore other problems in the education system, such as the access to quality schools for First Nations children, but all systemic issues are connected, and all are related to representation and voice, too. Who is listened to? Who gets to tell the stories about Native people?

Speaking of stories, when’s the last time you heard a story about Indians with a happy ending?

In the book version of the lectures, King provides an Afterward that is a private story that he does not tell orally. I’ll let you read it for yourself someday. But to spoil the moral, King bravely turns the lens on his own shortcomings and how he feels sorry for a world he has, in some small part, helped to create:
“A world in which I allow my intelligence and goodwill to be constantly subverted in pursuit of my comfort and pleasure… I find it easier to tell myself the story of my failure as a friend, as a human being, than to have to live the story of making a sustained effort to help.”

I’m not going to have that ‘authentically’ Indian story to live, and I have stopped wanting it or thinking of the problem in those ways. And I too have needed to tell stories about how I should have been a better person at different points in my life. My hope is that as a teacher, I make a sustained effort to give my students representations of their lives – and the lives of others – that are constructed by the people who have some stock in them. While I have not resigned myself to never recovering a cultural connection with the Six Nations, I have also done the best with my own emerging future as a teacher who doesn’t want to see the identities of children erased before they even have a chance."

[audio on YouTube: "The Truth About Stories - Thomas King - Lecture 1"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzXQoZ6pE-M ]
benjamondoxtdator  2017  representation  whiteness  identity  indigenous  thomasking  edwardsherrifcurtis  nativeamericans  sixnations  race  racism  culture  whiteprivilege  visibility  invisibility 
may 2017 by robertogreco

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