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.