By Robin Ridington
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Extra info for Trail to Heaven: Knowledge and Narrative in a Northern Native Community
Here in the forest north of the Peace River, I found a country still occupied by people whose right to the land was demonstrated, at least in their own thinking, by their knowledge of it. They had not paid for the land or possessed it by changing it. Their right was the right of belonging. It was the right of knowing. Their relationship to the land was more complex, more deeply rooted, more spiritual than simple material possession. The Indians acted as if they and their ancestors had been on the land as long as the animals themselves.
In 1964, I began anthropological fieldwork in a Beaver Indian community in northeastern British Columbia. I soon learned that the Beavers call themselves Dunne-za, "Real People," in their northern Athapaskan language. " None of the academic sources I consulted referred to them by their own name, Dunne-za. In the same way that I had accepted the authenticity of the name "Beaver Indian'' as it appeared in the academic literature, I also assumed that the methods, purposes, and metaphors governing that literature ruled supreme.
Its paradigm, if any, is that of Dunne-za culture itself. It assumes that myth and dream are interior to events in the world of sensation. It assumes that knowledge is a form of power. It assumes that discourse is meaningful in the context of shared experience. It assumes an Indian philosophy of time and causality. A moment in Indian time includes every other moment shared Page xiv in the individual and collective memories of individuals, community, and culture. A single moment is meaningful in relation to every other moment that is part of shared experience.
Trail to Heaven: Knowledge and Narrative in a Northern Native Community by Robin Ridington