While intriguing and entertaining, Indigenous storytelling and oral history can be highly complex topics of discussion and learning. Stories are centuries old, they encompass historical, political, environmental, and sacred subject matter, and they are specific to diverse Indigenous Nations. Dr. Ellen Rice White remarkably captures the enormity of these undertakings in her Legends of Xeel’s, The Creator.
Dr. Ellen Rice White was a highly respected Elder from the Snumeymuxw First Nation. Her Indigenous name was Kwulasulwut which translates Many Stars. She was an educator, author, storyteller, and traditional knowledge keeper who believed education was the key to social change and community building. Her Grandmother and Great Uncle taught her traditional teachings and traditional stories.
Indigenous Approaches to Learning:
- All elements (inanimate/animate have energy
- All elements communicate and interact with this energy
- Purpose: to listen and find person meaning
- The person telling the story does not tell people what to think
- There is no right or wrong answer
- Learning comes from listeners’ personal understanding
Legends and Teachings of Xeel’s, The Creator addresses matters of the body, mind, heart, and spirit that arise at different stages of the characters’ lives. The solutions include opening your body, mind, heart, and spirit to the healing energies of nature (land, water, air, species, environment) and from learning to respect yourself, family, community, and cultural practices. The characters’ challenges are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. To support educators, after each story, there is a Discussion Section. Written in narrative form, it includes story summaries, explanations of cultural understandings, and connections between characters’ problems then and now.
If you never fully understood the First Peoples Principles of Learning, the legends beautifully model all the principles. Kwulasulwut wants readers to know that the stories were handed down to her from her grandparents and their ancestors of the Coast Salish people. She expresses that the stories belong to Xeel’s, so she wants to share the stories, as they teach lessons on the importance of family and community values and how to get along.
While this resource is important for all educators to learn about traditional storytelling and Indigenous worldviews, the content is appropriate for youth and adults (see children’s books below). This is a cross curricular resource.