In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada’s Delgamuukw decision determined that oral traditions must be placed “on an equal footing with the types of historical evidence that courts are familiar with” in Aboriginal land claims court proceedings. But how has oral history been used in the courts since that potentially ground-breaking ruling?
In this panel discussion, experts from anthropology, law, literature, and Indigenous studies explore how oral narratives might be treated in the long process from their transmission by one person to another, their placement in archives, their handling by Crown and tribal/band researchers, their performance in a courtroom, and finally to their evaluation by trial judges as forms of evidence. The panelists consider the role of cultural ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ and how an ethics of collaboration may offer strategies for addressing the problem of translating oral traditions into statements of Aboriginal title in the courtroom. They also invite us to consider how scholarship can transform the process of Aboriginal rights litigation.
Link Kesler is chair of the First Nations Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, where he was appointed director of the UBC First Nations House of Learning and senior advisor to the president on Aboriginal Affairs. He has been involved with the Oral Narratives of the Klamath Termination, the development of the Interactive Video/Transcript Viewer, and Indigenous Foundations, among other initiatives.
Bruce Granville Miller is a professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia. He works with First Nations in Canada and American Indian tribes in the United States and writes about Aboriginal relations with the state. He is the author of Oral History on Trial: Recognizing Aboriginal Narratives in the Courts.
Sophie McCall is an associate professor of English at Simon Fraser University, where she teaches in the areas of Canadian and First Nations literatures, postcolonial theory, and globalization studies. She is the author of First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship.
Darlene Johnston is an associate professor in the Faculty of law at the University of British Columbia. In 2008, she was awarded the designation of Indigenous People’s Counsel from the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada. Her teaching areas include Indigenous Legal Traditions, Canadian Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, and Law & Colonialism.
Books will be available for sale at the event.
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