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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Placing Gitxsan stories in text : returning the feathers, Guuxs Mak’am mik’aax Smith, M. Jane

Abstract

As a Gitxsan child growing up in the Gitxsan territory, I was never sent away to residential school. I was able to experience a traditional Gitxsan education that involved working with Elders on the land and listening to stories. This experience had a profound effect on my way of being, both as an educator and as a storyteller, so much so that I have used this pedagogical approach in my public school teaching. This study documents my journey as I concurrently use stories as research and research as stories and drawing from narrative, autobiographical, reflective practice, and action research literature and the conception of Indigenous research offered by Linda Smith (1999). I narrate the stories and legends that reveal the depth of the Gitxsan culture. Gitxsan culture involves traditions arising from a long oral history. I explore these traditions and stories and transform them into text so that they can be used as an educational resource in order to help students think critically and understand factual content in a personalized manner. Gitxsan educational materials can and should be integrated into the common school curriculum. Gitxsan perspectives on storytelling offer useful insights that would enhance education programs within our public school systems. This thesis/dissertation captures the diversity and complexity of the Gitxsan culture and explores some of the struggles and tensions associated with an inquiry into educational change.

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