By Sophie McCall
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Additional resources for First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship
A groundbreaking collection of told-to narratives that uses collaboration as its methodology is Life Lived Like a Story (1990), by Julie Cruikshank and three Athapaskan storytellers, Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, and Annie Ned (a book I discuss in detail in Chapter 5). One reason that collaboration (in the sense of cooperation) appears to ‘work’ in this text is that the ownership of the stories – their author-ity – is acknowledged. The text uses as a guiding principle Angela Sidney’s claim that ‘my stories are my wealth’ (Cruikshank et al.
Cronyn included works by Euro-American poets whose contributions reworked Native American songs to fit the pared-down aesthetics of the personal lyric. Because these poets did not know the Aboriginal languages in which the songs were initially recorded, their aim was to create ‘versions,’ not translations. Anthropologists and literary critics have long disputed the best way to ‘entextualize’ oral narrative, which Richard Bauman and Charles L. Briggs describe as the ‘process of rendering discourse extractable, of making a stretch of linguistic production into a unit – a text – that can be lifted out of its interactional setting’ (73).
As objects, we remain voiceless – our beings defined and interpreted by others’ (12). However, Cree-Ojibway writer Jordan Wheeler has complicated this notion of ‘coming to voice’ by drawing attention to the mediating structures that produce the effect of oppositional Aboriginal voices. ’ In other words, the ‘Native voice’ can be heard, but how it is framed or mediated determines the extent of its impact. ’ Pointing to the example of the media representation of the Oka crisis, Wheeler insists that ‘there was an aboriginal presence, but it was not voice.