An Investigation of the Role of Legends and Storytelling in Early Childhood Practices in a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Early Childhood Facility

Sandra Deer

Abstract


Through the course of Indigenous history, cultural and spiritual knowledge remains, in many places as faint as the smoke rising from the embers of last night’s fire; in other places, with enough flame to ignite another log. In spite of the genocidal acts portrayed through colonialism’s experimentation through religious doctrine, residential school, legislation, treaties broken and unbroken, reservations, and spiritual disregard, the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island remain living, breathing and believing that their history is alive through the oral stories of their beginnings and endings. Indigenous education can only be defined through the culture of the people themselves. Historical Indigenous education was transferred orally for thousands of years with very little disruption or inconsistencies; therefore distinct meanings and connections were continuously addressed through one’s lifetime through the wisdom of elder’s legends and stories. The investigation of the role of legends and storytelling in an early childhood setting in Kahnawa:ke, Quebec is portrayed through a combination of research literature, classroom observations and personal interviews documented as portraiture. The main finding was that cultural legends and stories familiar to historical, ceremonial and spiritual practices are vital to the cultural foundation of the Haudenosaunee (peoples of the longhouse or the Iroquois) and Kahnawake’hró:non (people of Kahnawa:ke).


Keywords


Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk); ECE; early childhood education; cultural legends and stories; residential schools; storytelling

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