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The Art of Storytelling


The Art of Storytelling From the past, through the present, into the future everlasting stories. A work is usually defined as literature when it is a written ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling
From the past, through the present,into the
future everlasting stories.
Oral Traditions
  • A work is usually defined as literature when it
    is a written story that displays creative
    imagination and artistic skills.
  • Many people assume that the study of literature
    is about books.
  • Every culture has its own unique literary
    expression. Literature can be defined more
    broadly to include songs, speeches, stories and

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The Recording of History
  • The Aboriginal tradition in the recording of
    history is an oral one, involving legends,
    stories and accounts handed down through the
    generations in oral form.
  • In the Aboriginal tradition the purpose of
    repeating oral accounts from the past is broader
    than the role of written history in western

Here a man and woman, copied from the watercolour
by H.N. Binney (shown previously, in which they
are getting out of a canoe), are now walking down
a road near Charlottetown, which appears in the
distance. The man is carrying furs, the woman
still has the same fish, and they are accompanied
by a young girl with a splint basket and a
bedroll on her back. The woman's costume is
heavily distorted by this copyist.
Maliseet and Mikmaq Storytellers
  • There were many storytellers in Maliseet and
    Mikmaq communities. Children hear ancient
    legends and tales and learn the history of their
    communities by talking with their elders. The
    stories they hear may have originated hundreds or
    even thousands of years ago.

Oral Traditions
  • Oral traditions have provided cultural continuity
    in Maliseet Mikmaq communities through the
    sharing of stories, songs, history, personal
    experiences and social commentary.
  • Oral traditions are the first way people had of
    communicating knowledge and beliefs from one
    generation to the next.

  • The literature of aboriginal societies was based
    in oral traditions best described as orature.
  • Individuals who were eloquent and had a strong
    command of the language were highly respected in
    native communities. They were often storytellers.

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  • The purpose of the accounts may be to educate the
    listener, to communicate aspects of culture, to
    socialize people into a cultural tradition, or to
    validate the claims of a particular family to
    authority and prestige.

A storyteller is
  • A good storyteller could transport listeners to a
    particular piece of hunting territory the
    lapping of the water on the lakeshore and the
    smell of tress.
  • A storyteller could evoke the lessons of
    ancestors long passed away.
  • A storyteller could shape the opinions of people
    reminding them of past actions and historical
    events. In any oral tradition, spoken words had
    the power to capture the imagination and
    transform reality.

Drawing your own conclusions
  • Those who hear the oral accounts draw their own
    conclusions from what they have heard, and they
    do so in the particular context (time, place and
    situation) of the telling of the story.
  • Thus, the meaning to be drawn from an oral
    account depends on who is telling it, the
    circumstances in which the account is told, and
    the interpretation the listener gives to what has
    been heard.

A Vital IngredientPart of the Spice of Life
  • In this way, Aboriginals used songs, legends and
    stories to express their understanding of their
    world they were also used to pass on the
    histories of their people to future generations.
  • In particular, storytelling was a vital
    ingredient in teaching young children and youths.
    Stories were often used to discipline children.
  • This was generally done in a humorous way because
    teasing and joking served as a more effective
    social mechanism in many Aboriginal cultures than
    direct reproof, pointing out mistakes.

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Oral Accounts
  • Oral accounts of the past include a good deal of
    subjective experience. They are not simply a
    detached recounting of factual events but,
    rather, are facts enmeshed in the stories of a
  • They are also likely to be rooted in particular
    locations, making reference to particular
    families and communities.

Characterized History
  • This contributes to a sense that there are many
    histories, each characterized in part by how a
    people see themselves, how they define their
    identity in relation to their environment, and
    how they express their uniqueness as a people.

  • Unlike western tradition, which creates a sense
    of distance in time between the listener or
    reader and the events being described, the
    tendency of Aboriginal perspectives is to create
    a sense of immediacy.
  • This is done by encouraging listeners to imagine
    that they are participating in the past event
    being recounted.

Categorized as Inferior
  • Some Europeans newcomers considered Aboriginal
    cultures to be inferior because they lacked
    written forms of communication.
  • However, many earlier colonial administrators
    soon came to appreciate the verbal skill and
    artistry of Aboriginal leaders and orators.
  • At treaty sessions and council meetings,
    government officials found themselves having to
    adapt to the complex oratory of Aboriginal

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In fact
  • In reality, the oral traditions were intricate
    and full of meaning. Aboriginal orators were
    highly respected, and words had a great deal of
    power. Orators used wit, metaphor, irony,
    emotion, imagery and eloquence to enrich their
  • Many of the old stories have slipped away with
    the passing of elders and through the loss of
    culture because of assimilation. The precarious
    (uncertain) state of many Aboriginal languages
    also presents a challenge to storytelling

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Contemporary Times
  • Maliseet and Mikmaq storytelling in recent years
    has suffered from some of the same pressures as
    other Canadian oral traditions.
  • There are fewer times when extended families get
    together. Almost all households have one or more
    television sets.
  • Along with these factors, the increasing use of
    English in Native communities has created a
    further problem for Maliseet and Mikmaq stories,
    which are seldom told in English.

Reclaiming the past
  • Nevertheless, the oral traditions of Aboriginal
    societies continue today.
  • Aboriginal storytellers are reclaiming the
    stories of their people, and in many cases,
    relating them in the context of the contemporary
    lives of Aboriginal societies.
  • Contemporary storytellers are also expanding
    their audiences, by adapting oral traditions to
    radio, television, theatre, music and books.

Thats all
  • The End

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