Oral History



















Why is the telling of stories important?

There are many reasons why oral tradition is important. First, many stories are centuries old and contain information about events that happened not only to the people at the time but to the land as well. For example, author Julie Cruikshank tells of a story in her book Reading Voices (1991) regarding Tommy McGinty, who tells a story he heard from his parents and grandparents of an eruption by Volcano Mountain - Nelruna (in Tutchone). McGinty described in detail - verified by geologist's scientific evidence - the eruption that occurred between 300 - 500 years ago.

This means that stories are apart of history and pass on knowledge of how things happened, why they happened as well as how society works. In other words, stories are about people's relationships towards their surroundings as well as each other.

From this sense of history, we gain a second reason why oral tradition is important: because First

Nations gain their heritage. Oral traditions of events deepen our understanding of what these events must have meant to the people living at that time. They touch on values and attitudes of families and groups and help First Nations to understand how they construct the world in the first place. For Yukon First Nations, oral tradition is one of the keys in interpreting Yukon land, climate, environment and its people.




Last updated October 21, 2001