Important Reading for Working with Indigenous Stories

Several books have been published about working with Indigenous stories. This list of four recent books is only a starting point in your education.

Greg Younging. Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. 2018; Edmonton, AB: Brush Education Inc.

Elements is quickly becoming a staple for writers, editors, and publishers across Canada. Greg Younging and the authors he worked with use 22 principles that give publishing professionals a framework for writing, editing, and publishing texts by and about Indigenous Peoples.

From an introduction to the ways Indigenous Peoples have been portrayed in literature, to cultural rights and editorial issues, this small book includes everything you need to begin learning about Indigenous stories and writers.

Chelsea Vowel. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada. 2016; Winnipeg, MB: Highwater Press.

Indigenous Writes isn’t about editing or writing. Yet, it will become one of your most well-used reference books.

Chelsea Vowel dispels many of the myths about Indigenous Peoples in her bestselling book. Whether you are unsure about terminology, cultural identity, or the historical relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Canada, this book will answer your questions. The knowledge you gain will help you identify when a manuscript may be culturally inappropriate or need more research.

Three chapters are of particular interest to members of the publishing industry (and beyond).

  • Chapter 9: What is Cultural Appropriation: Respecting Cultural Boundaries
  • Chapter 10: Check the Tag on That “Indian” Story: How to Find Authentic Indigenous Stories
  • Chapter 11: Icewine, Roquefort Cheese, and the Navajo Nation: Indigenous Use of Intellectual Property Laws

Daniel Heath Justice. Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. 2018; Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier Press.

Daniel Heath Justice gives us a cogent argument for why it is important for the Canadian publishing industry to revise the ways it has historically treated manuscripts by Indigenous authors.

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter isn’t a primer on publishing or editing. And yet, if you read deeply, it is. The book will help you understand how to read Indigenous stories. And once you understand how to read from an Indigenous perspective, you will better understand how to edit and publish manuscripts by Indigenous writers.

Chapter 1, “Stories that Wound, Stories that Heal,” is a powerful reminder that the stories that have been published about Indigenous Peoples have sometimes caused great harm. Yet, if we are willing to look beyond the stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples, we can bring stories of “cultural, political, and familial resurgence” to readers (p. 6). Recognizing the difference will help make this a reality.

Lee Maracle. Memory Serves. 2015; Edmonton, AB: NeWest Press.

Lee Maracle has collected oratories that she has performed in the last 20 years in one book. Through the lens of a Sto: lo woman, the oratories educate readers about Indigenous philosophies, law, knowledge, and feminism, among other topics.

For the publishing industry, the collection is an important lesson in storytelling and the oral tradition Maracle comes from. It is also a way to better understand the non-linear ways that Indigenous stories can unfold—a storytelling method that is often foreign to western readers.

Rhonda Kronyk (photo by Dallas Kronyk)

One Reply to “Important Reading for Working with Indigenous Stories”

  • Thanks for the articles in this issue. After reading them, I wanted to better understand non-linear narrative but couldn’t find good explanations. Perhaps, a blog post could be written on the topic.

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