Nikāwiy Okiskinohāmāwina = mother as teacher : a Cree First Nation's mother teaching through stories
Bighead, Mary Emily
This study described the stories of a First Nations mother and provides an interpretative analysis on how she used stories to teach Cree culture, language, and identity. The stories presented are in the stream of mother-daughter communication. The oral transmission of the Cree stories communicated through mother tongue form the basis of this work. It is through the analysis of my mother's stories that I have come to understand what it means to be a Cree woman. Throughout, we have a level of communication and understanding that has come full circle in appreciating my mother's ways as we collaborated to interpret our stories. The literature reviewed presents a theoretical discussion which illuminates Aboriginal matriarchal voice. The literature review explores works within the historical, contemporary, literary, and feminists paradigms which speak from Aboriginal women and their stories. The literature includes the perspectives of Aboriginal authors and their views on epistemology. In this naturalistic study, I used the descriptive narrative approach to reflect on a mother's stories in the stream of day-to-day activity. I collected data using field notes gathered on-site, audio-tapes of stories from my mother's lived experience, and a reflective journal of observations and insights that linked theory and pedagogy. Themes were derived from the stories which illustrated a metaphysical, ecological, and cultural journey toward wholeness. These themes represent the ways story is used within the context of lived experience. Further, a cultural metaphor using the pattern of the flower symbolized a woman's connections with Cree knowledge. The study became an emancipatory narrative because it allowed a Cree woman's voice to be acknowledged. Using storytelling as a narrative framework, I have found that the oral tradition is a fundamental communicative pattern for the Cree people. Further, the stories we share lead to growth and understanding of self as a Cree person. For this, the ways stories are told shape and form the basis of Cree knowledge. In this study, the use of analogies, symbolism, and metaphor are primary ways of coming to know.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentIndian and Northern Education
ProgramIndian and Northern Education
CommitteeStiffarm, Lenore; Flynn, Mark; Battiste, Marie; Wason-Ellam, Linda
Indian and Northern education