Cree Intellectual Traditions in History


Wheeler draws on personal accounts with Knowledge Keepers and Elders to illustrate different types of oral histories and knowledge sharing, protocols of knowledge keepers, and the legitimacy of Indigenous historical memory keeping in scholarly research. 

Excerpt from Author, Page 47-48:

"Doing oral history with Old People poses many challenges but is worthwhile because it yields precious experiences and insights into how they understand the world around them. More specifically, it yields insight into the cultural values and laws that they live by and practice in their roles as keepers of community knowledge. Elders are not just repositories of knowledge. They are not official documents; they are human beings and teachers. As the days go by, fewer and fewer of them remain among us, which makes learning from them, preserving their teachings, and remembering them as best we can in their own contexts all that much more important.

Historians are trained to go beyond the data, to get to know their sources inside and out. This holds especially true when studying with Old People. One does not simply whip in and out of their lives; one develops reciprocal relationships with them. What I want to speak to here is the importance of learning more about Indigenous knowledge keepers and how they understand the world around them. Who are these living sources? What are the tools of their trade and how do they practice it? The overarching goal of this paper is to contribute to the growing studies on the value of Indigenous oral history as source and method in scholarly research. It is intended to add a little bit about other ways of knowing in order to help us along as we carve a space for Indigenous oral history in history, as history, and it takes a momentary path outside the academic framework to consider the nature and quality of Indigenous oral histories from within their own contexts." (47-48).

Publication Information

Wheeler, Winona. "Cree Intellectual Traditions in History.”  In The West and Beyond: New Perspectives on an Imagined Region. Eds. Alvin Finkle, Sarah Carter, and Peter Fortna. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2010. 47-61.

Wheeler, Winona
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