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Trickster's path to language transformation : stories of Secwepemc immersion from Chief Atahm School Michel, Kathryn A.

Abstract

I am a Secwepemc woman. I weave my identity around my land, my nation, and my family. My journey has led me to live my life working to help revitalize the Secwepemc language through immersion education. Through this qualitative study, framed by the oral tradition of stsptekwle, I share stories of my own involvement in language regeneration and stories from community members who worked alongside me to develop an Indigenous immersion school. These stories are set within the village of Sexqeltqin, in the South-Central Interior of British Columbia. They focus on the early experiences of the founding members of Chief Atahm School to help uncover how an Indigenous community, filled with hegemonic beliefs of its own obsolescence, worked to reconnect the self to community, through language. Throughout this research journey, narrative and autoethnographical elements merge with the Secwepemc oral tradition. Through using the oral tradition as a theoretical and conceptual tool, I reframe Aboriginal language revitalization as a journey of reconnecting self to community. The development of the “Restorying” Coyote Research and Theoretical Model not only asserts my rights as a Secwepemc researcher, but also, my responsibility to give back to community. The Trickster and Transformative elements of Coyote help to frame the research findings as a dynamic interplay whereby the self, community, and the colonized world, all compete for the rights to the Secwepemc language. Within the research analysis, the findings from Chief Atahm School loop back to connect to colonial history in my creation of an interactive community game utilizing Coyote’s Path to Language Power. As a Secwepemc mother who has raised four children within the loving circle of the Secwepemc language, I join my fellow storytellers in this telling of the Chief Atahm School Creation Story. This story becomes a part of Coyote History, as it jumps forwards and backwards, to link the story of language loss to stories told for over tens of thousands of years. This story tells of how ordinary people become heroes through learning to trust in each other and in the wisdom of their ancestors.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

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