Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History

Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History

Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History

Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History

Excerpt

While growing up in a number of resource towns in northern Canada, I developed a very distorted view of my world. Schoolteachers provided a sound survey of British history, but Canadian history apparently consisted solely of red tracings of explorers' routes across a pink map. There seemed no evidence around me to contradict that conclusion. There were no elderly people to tell stories of days gone by, everyone lived in houses of the same style and age, and everyone had parents who had been born "outside." Apparently, my land had been a vast and uninhabited frontier awaiting development by the mining and logging companies. Native peoples were mythical beings who had existed in magical times, and it never occurred to us that there might be real, living Natives on our own doorsteps.

When it finally became clear to me that northern Canada did indeed have a history as old and fascinating as that of any other part of North America, I began a search for reading material and was sadly disappointed. Most of what had been written dealt with the expansion of Canadian industry into the resource "frontier," compendiums of dry facts that did little to explain the human experience of northern life and seemed to bear no relation to my perspective on my surroundings. Aboriginal peoples were scarcely noted. Those events that had occurred before the arrival of Euro-Canadians were called "prehistory," and after contact, only those events related to issues of interest to Canadian society as a whole were examined. It is only relatively recently that historians have attempted to include events of importance to minority groups in their assessments of the . . .

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