The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory


211 pages
Contains Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0648-6
DDC 398.2'097191





Lois Provost Turchetti is a professional children’s storyteller (in
English and Caribbean Creole), who also conducts educational workshops
in Toronto.


The oral traditions of life in the Yukon speak to Julie Cruikshank,
professor of anthropology at the University of British Colombia, when
she revisits history from aboriginal perspectives. Cruikshank
collaborates with Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, Annie Ned, and other oral
tradition artists from Yukon First Nations communities. The learning
process documents and examines the traditional knowledge systems and
worldviews by which Yukon peoples see and relate to the world. Becoming
a storyteller herself in the process of relating her research findings,
Cruikshank not only explores but also creates a new layer of
metanarrative. The transformative dynamic of this method of aboriginal
teaching and learning demonstrates the historical “fluid multilingual
quality of stories told across three distinct families of language:
Athapaskan, Tlingit and English.” The natural context and content of
daily life in a spoken narrative culture is a journey that unites past
and future in the present.

Among other issues, Cruikshank addresses the power of spoken words to
transform social and political orders when narratives become employed in
the justice system as a means of negotiating, and the more serious
matter of how translation occurs across legal and social boundaries. In
addition, Cruikshank shows how stories cross the borders of mythology,
history, ethnology, language, and psychology and come into their own
“social life.” Her discovery that Yukon narrative tradition is not
only a philosophy but also the best medicine has significant
implications for its revival in the modern world. The Social Life of
Stories is recommended for teachers, storytellers, and anyone concerned
with social issues and intercultural communications.


Cruikshank, Julie., “The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024,