Maps of Experience

Maps of Experience: The Anchoring of Land to Story in Secwepemc Discourse

Andie Diane Palmer
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 260
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442677005
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  • Book Info
    Maps of Experience
    Book Description:

    In many North American indigenous cultures, history and stories are passed down, not by the written word, but by oral tradition. InMaps of Experience, Andie Diane Palmer draws on stories recorded during travels through Secwepemc – or Shuswap – hunting and gathering territory with members of the Alkali Lake Reserve in Interior British Columbia. Palmer examines how the various kinds of talk allow knowledge to be carried forward, reconstituted, reflected upon, enriched, and ultimately relocated by and for new interlocutors in new experiences and places.

    Maps of Experiencedemonstrates how the Secwepemc engagement in the traditional practices of hunting and gathering create shared lived experiences between individuals, while recreating a known social context in which existing knowledge of the land may be effectively shared and acted upon. When the narratives of fellow travellers are pooled through discursive exchange, they serve as what can be considered a ‘map of experience,’ providing the basis of shared understanding and social relationship to territory. Palmer's analysis of ways of listening and conveying information within the Alkali Lake community brings new insights into indigenous language and culture, as well as to the study of oral history, ethnohistory, experimental ethnography, and discourse analysis.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7700-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Notes on Language, Transcription, and Pronunciation
    (pp. xvii-2)
  7. Chapter 1 Introduction A Discourse-Centred Approach to Understanding
    (pp. 3-26)

    I went to Alkali Lake, British Columbia, as a young student, with some idea of what my chosen field, linguistic anthropology, was supposed to be. I had the guidance of Vi ṯaqwšəblu Hilbert, my professor of Lushootseed Salish language and oral literature at the University of Washington, who encouraged me to go and introduce myself to the people in that place. ṯaqwšəblu had told me a great deal about the respectful approach to Story, including the acknowledgment that Stories may be guides, but only if the listener is mindful that the teller is far more than a mere vessel for...

  8. Chapter 2 A Brief History of Responses to Colonialism
    (pp. 27-56)

    Few materials can be found outside of the Canadian National and British Columbia Provincial Archives that provide any indication of how Secwepemc people, with whom no treaties were negotiated by the British Crown, the Canadian government, or the Province of British Columbia, found themselves only recognized by those governments as having some claim to tiny patches of land in their vast territories. This account is provided in order to address a critical gap in the published histories now in general circulation; it is not a gap than can be filled entirely, but notice can at least be given here to...

  9. Chapter 3 Living on the Land
    (pp. 57-82)

    Subsistence activities form an integral part of life in Alkali Lake, particularly when subsistence contributions to livelihood are viewed at the level of the extended family, rather than the individual. While a wage earner today may have little time to schedule an overnight trip to fish for salmon, or a trip into the mountains to hunt, it is generally the case that some in the family will be able to take on these tasks, often with the benefit of a vehicle or gas money provided by the wage earner. In order to consider the cultural transmission of knowledge, as rooted...

  10. Chapter 4 Maps
    (pp. 83-117)

    For the people of Alkali Lake, stories that reflect a knowledge of the land and its resources are often told in association with particular places during travel. In this chapter, I examine such narratives, and the contexts in which they are told, so as to investigate what they reveal about patterns of discourse, and what the band members I travelled with find to be significant features to describe in their world. This attention to resources is an outstanding feature of discourse in travel, and, as I was to learn, could range from simple remarks to elaborately detailed narratives. The structure...

  11. Chapter 5 Story
    (pp. 118-135)

    Sixwi’lexken’s lament, quoted above, is echoed today in the concerns of his relatives in Alkali Lake, and in other parts of the wider Salish world. Darwin Hannah and Mamie Henry, recording Nlha7kápmx tellings of Interior Salish stories nearly one hundred years later, heard from many Elders that stories were told at night when they were young, but that many were forgotten: ‘One elder jokingly stated, “Ask by the graveyard,” for when the elders die, they take with them their encyclopedia of knowledge’ (Hanna and Henry 1996: 11). Fortunately, stories are still told, at times, by some, as Hannah was to...

  12. Chapter 6 Memories
    (pp. 136-158)

    Anthropological life-story work is a fundamentally collaborative endeavour, in that it involves the construction of a narrated version of a self, negotiated into coherence through understandings between the recorder-anthropologist and the person whose story is ostensibly being put to paper. With any transmission of a life story, as Charlotte Linde has noted, ‘coherence must be understood as a cooperative achievement of the speaker and the addressee; it is not an absolute property of a disembodied, unsituated text’ (1993: 12). I found that at Alkali Lake, to listen to life stories was to enter a treasured relationship where learning something of...

  13. Chapter 7 Cross-Cultural Comparisons
    (pp. 159-169)

    Throughout the pages of this book I have considered how particular places are imbued with social meaning by and for the Secwepemc, how spaces become places through human action on the landscape, and how people come to know the land through personal experience. Despite my attention to these matters, I found that in doing my fieldwork I imposed some social constructs of my own onto the landscape, and created some boundaries and amalgamations with my verbalized categories where none exist for the Secwepemc, or exist with different boundaries than mine.

    One winter day at Alkali Lake, when the snow was...

  14. Appendix: Selected Transcriptions
    (pp. 170-206)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 207-216)
  16. References
    (pp. 217-228)
  17. Index
    (pp. 229-250)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 251-252)