the Oral Tradition and indigenous performance

Class home page


Welcome to the home page of ENGL 4860 T19 and ENGL 7860 T06.  This page will give additional details about our digital course materials.  It will be a supplement to the syllabi for each class.  

The class vimeo folder contains several videos of performances by Indigenous storytellers.  This folder is located at and students can sign in to view the videos using the password indicated on your syllabus.

The digital course pack contains many of the texts we will be reading.  It is located HERE.

Community Events (Not assigned for the class, just FYI)

The website is an excellent resource for learning about Indigenous community events in the Winnipeg area. Their calendar of events is here.

Class Schedule



12     Speaking, Listening, Visiting

         Kevin Lee Burton, “Nikamowin (Song)”; “God’s Lake Narrows”.  

         Marjorie Beaucage, "Speaking to their Mother".

19    Approaching Indigenous Performance: Louis Bird’s Omushkego Cree Stories

         “Louis Bird Cree Stories event, August, 2010”.  (In the class Vimeo folder.)

         Each student should also watch any two videos from the What is Performance Studies interview page.

          Criticism:  Diana Taylor, “Acts of Transfer" from What is Performance Studies?

        Shawn Wilson, Chapter 1 from Research is Ceremony.  (In the digital course pack.)

          Presentations by:    Kirsty,  Grace, Sabrina

26     Louis Bird, continued

         “Louis Bird Introduction to Omushkego Stories,” “Louis Bird Chakapesh / Ayas Stories” and “Louis Bird

          Disappearance Stories.”  (All in class vimeo folder). OPTIONAL:  "Louis Bird Ayas Story in Cree" (also in vimeo


          Criticism:  Warren Cariou, “Who is the Text in This Class?” (In digital course pack.)

          Presentations by:  Melanie Bel., Mike, Mariam


3       Dovie Thomason's Lakota/Kiowa Apache Stories

          “My Name is Dovie” and “Dovie Thomason TRC National Research Centre Story.” (In the class vimeo folder).

          Recommended viewing:  Dovie Thomason Kitchen Table Interview #1 and #2 (In vimeo folder)

          Criticism:  Warren Cariou, "Life-Telling." (In digital course pack)

          Presentations by:  Sabrina, Melanie Br., Grace

17     Testimony, the TRC, and Oral Traces 

          The Survivors Speak.  Available for download at the TRC website here.

           Videos from TRC hearings (warning-- some disturbing content):  "Moving Forward" and "Alberta Hearings".

           Recommended viewing:  1962 CBC documentary "'The Eyes of Children'--Christmas at a Residential School".

           Criticism:  Clint Burnham, “Is the TRC a Text?” (In digital course pack)

            Presentations by:  Jessica, Melissa, Melanie Br.

24       Flora Zaharia's Kainai Stories

           “Flora Zaharia and Dovie Thomason--Telling Turtle Island” storytelling session.  (In Vimeo folder.)

            Flora Zaharia, Atsinikskinni—Stories of My People.  Cd or download from here.  

            Criticism:  Floyd Favel, “Theatre, Younger Brother of Tradition. (In digital course pack.)

            Presentations by:  Jordan, Shaylyn, Melanie Bel.

31        Tanya Tagaq and Inuit Performance

             Tanya Tagaq, "Uja" and "Umingmak" (live) -- Polaris Music Prize 2014

             Tanya Tagaq, music video for "Uja".

              Paul Raphael and Felix Lajeunesse, Dirs.  “Tungijuk."

              Criticism: Keavy Martin, "The Hunting and Harvesting of Inuit Literature." (In digital course pack.)

              Recommended viewing:  Kathy Keknek and Janet Aglukkaq, traditional throat singing.

              Suggested reading:  “Breath Of The Inuit: Tanya Tagaq Interviewed.”  In

              Presentations by:  Grace, Michelle, Kirsty


NOTE--- Post-strike changes to the schedule.  Due to vagaries of the back-to-class scheduling, we will have one fewer class meetings than planned.  I have tried to condense the material on Never Alone and  the three short films in the Indigenous Orality in Film and Presence sections from THREE classes down to TWO.  Please get in touch with me if this causes problems for you with scheduling of your presentation.  Also, if anyone who was planning to present on the SECOND Never Alone class would like to move their presentation up to the first one now, that would be helpful with ensuring that we fit everything into our condensed schedule.  

Please note that Dovie Thomason is coming to visit the class on the 28th!  Richard Van Camp is unfortunately not able to come for our class visit due to the change in schedule.

28             Gaming and Oral Traditions

           ***DOVIE THOMASON CLASS VISIT 11:30-12:30***

              Never Alone: Kisima Innitchuna.  Video game available for download on multiple platforms at

     *NOTE: THIS GAME TAKES AT LEAST 10 HOURS TO PLAY, so please budget your time


              Walkthrough videos of Never Alone are available here.  These walkthroughs are sequential renderings of one

              person's progress through the game.  Watching this is not at all the same thing as playing the game!  But they 

              are useful for revisiting particular parts of the game, and we can refer to the time codes in the videos so that 

              other people in the class can follow along.  

              Also read for today:   “Nasruk Transcription” of Kuunuksayaka story, from Stories of the Black River People.  (In

             digital course pack.)

             Criticism:  David Gaertner, "A Landless Territory?"  (In digital course pack.)

              Presentations by:  Jessica, Shaylyn, Mariam


5          Gaming and Oral Traditions, plus Indigenous Orality in Film and in Presence

               Never Alone, continued.

               Also read blog responses at, especially the ones by Maize Longboat

               ("Rendering Digital Gaming"), Katherine Meloche ("Sovereign Games"), David Gaertner ("How Should I Play"),

               Naithan Lagace ("Impact") and Warren Cariou ("Performance").

               Criticism:  Philip Auslander, “Digital Liveness.”  (In digital course pack.)

               Presentations by:  Mike, Michelle, Melanie Br.  (NOTE:  if any of these three presenters could move their

                      presentation to the Nov. 28 class, that would be great).

               Indigenous Orality in Film and In Presence 

                Kelvin Redvers, dir.  “Firebear Called them Faith Healers.” (Short Film screened in class). 

                Helen Haig-Brown, dir. “The Cave.” (Short film screened in class).

                Note--for those doing presentations, these two films can be screened in the CCWOC lab before class

                        if you book in advance.

                Lisa Jackson, dir.  "Savage."  Available here.

                Criticism:  Michael Greyeyes, “Inside the Machine.”  (In digital Course Pack).

                Presentations by:  Sarah, Sabrina, Kirsty

12            Indigenous Orality in Film, continued

                Jeff Barnaby, dir.   Rhymes for Young Ghouls.  DVD, blu-ray or download on multiple platforms.  *Note:  the 

                film will not be screened in class.  Students are expected to have watched it before class.

                Criticism:  Jill Carter, “Discarding Sympathy, Disrupting Crisis.” (In digital course pack.)

                Presentations by:  Mariam, Shaylyn, Jordan, Melissa


19            Digitality, Orality, Environment

             Honour Water.  Video game by Elizabeth Lapensee and Pinnguaq.  Available for iOS platform, downloadable

             at the Itunes store.  (For those who don't have access to an iOS device, I will try to have one available at the

             CCWOC lab, 390A University College).

             Criticism:  Melissa Nelson, "The Hydromythology of the Anishinaabeg.”  (In digital course pack.)

             Presentations by:  Melanie Bel., Mike, Michelle