Title

Turtle Island’s Little People: Indigenous Oral Traditions

Submitter and Co-author information

Stephanie R. GusainFollow

Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Challenges Theme

Understanding and Optimizing Borders

Your Location

Windsor, ON

Faculty

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Tim Brunet, Sandra Muse-Isaacs

Abstract/Description of Original Work

Western societies view borders as absolutes. And while these human-made dividers do have some benefits, the restriction of people to specific geographical areas that are often seen to be exceedingly arbitrary does more than just prevent the migration of peoples. When we stop humans, we also stop their ideas, cultures, technologies and stories. Across Turtle Island there over 590 tribes, but historically open boarders and communities make connections and transfer of ideas and information -as well as the people who share them- much easier. Indigenous tribes have geographical limits, but these are fluid, and make considerations for a variety of factors. By looking at stories of Little People we can see how these boarders functioned. These stories have many similarities, but are each unique to the community or group they belong to. In conjunction with my oral presentation I will show a map of these stories using ARCGIS software and show traditional tribal areas in comparison with each tribes little people story and how these are shared through the open boundary lines of these communities that have geographic proximity. Indigenous groups still have borders, but their open nature allows for information (such as these oral traditions) to spread between groups and be used and adapted by all. Exploring these stories not only keeps them alive for future generations, but can tell us much about who wrote them and what caused their creations, but also about how these ideas are spread and why. Little People are small but important figures in indigenous cultures, and their proliferation across Turtle Island speaks largely to shared experiences, thoughts and fears across large and potentially dissimilar groups of people. However, these stories are due to the structuring of indigenous communities and the borders that surround them, and point to solutions to the current issues with modern borders by opening them and creating fluidity for both the borders themselves and the people they contain.

Special Considerations

Research is done in conjunction with Dr. Sandra Muse (research supervisor) in Prof. Tim Brunet’s Ways of Knowing- Special Topics class.

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Turtle Island’s Little People: Indigenous Oral Traditions

Western societies view borders as absolutes. And while these human-made dividers do have some benefits, the restriction of people to specific geographical areas that are often seen to be exceedingly arbitrary does more than just prevent the migration of peoples. When we stop humans, we also stop their ideas, cultures, technologies and stories. Across Turtle Island there over 590 tribes, but historically open boarders and communities make connections and transfer of ideas and information -as well as the people who share them- much easier. Indigenous tribes have geographical limits, but these are fluid, and make considerations for a variety of factors. By looking at stories of Little People we can see how these boarders functioned. These stories have many similarities, but are each unique to the community or group they belong to. In conjunction with my oral presentation I will show a map of these stories using ARCGIS software and show traditional tribal areas in comparison with each tribes little people story and how these are shared through the open boundary lines of these communities that have geographic proximity. Indigenous groups still have borders, but their open nature allows for information (such as these oral traditions) to spread between groups and be used and adapted by all. Exploring these stories not only keeps them alive for future generations, but can tell us much about who wrote them and what caused their creations, but also about how these ideas are spread and why. Little People are small but important figures in indigenous cultures, and their proliferation across Turtle Island speaks largely to shared experiences, thoughts and fears across large and potentially dissimilar groups of people. However, these stories are due to the structuring of indigenous communities and the borders that surround them, and point to solutions to the current issues with modern borders by opening them and creating fluidity for both the borders themselves and the people they contain.