Oral Tradition & The Power of Podcasts!
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Article by Program Coordinator, Cara Jones
Recently the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre opened registration for a new project called the Peyakôskân Podcast Initiative.
Peyakôskân. In the Cree language, this means One Nation. One Family. One Tribe.
The Initiative will bring together high school students and post-secondary students from diverse cultures and backgrounds to learn the art of podcasting, collaboration and the power of storytelling to address complex social issues such as racism and discrimination and the importance of Truth and Reconciliation.
Over the last ten years, podcasts have grown in popularity and have been an invaluable tool that connects listeners with the voices of people they might have never had the opportunity to hear through traditional media outlets. Podcasts create platforms that amplify the voices of those historically marginalized, such as those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC), people living with disabilities, and the 2SLGBTQ+ community. In addition, it's a transformative medium where communities can write and shape their stories of progress and change.
Despite the societal function of the media to represent the interests of all members of society, traditional media channels (e.g., television) often downplay marginalized people's grievances and needs, instead focusing on content aimed at dominant or popular groups. However, in recent years the proliferation of digital technologies has created unprecedented opportunities for expression and interaction among activists and marginalized groups who have found digital technologies powerful tools for circumventing the limitations of traditional media. (Bedeley, 2019)
What is "Oral Tradition"?
According to the First Peoples Principles of Learning, "learning is embedded in memory, history, and story." There is a story for everything. Stories teach, inform, inspire and entertain. Oral traditions are the backbone of Indigenous knowledge transfer, and storytelling is how these important lessons are shared. Storytelling connects individuals and communities to their place and time. It lets us see through others' eyes and learn from their experience. They are a tool for teaching history, cultural etiquette, and spiritual beliefs. At the heart of every story is a lesson in relationships, whether it is a relationship with self, others, or the environment. (Taylor, n.d.)
Oral-based knowledge systems are predominant among First Nations. Stories are frequently told as evening family entertainment to pass along local or family knowledge.
Some stories are told only during certain seasons, at a particular time of day, or in specific places. Similarly, some stories are meant to be heard only by specific people. Such stories often teach important lessons about a given society's culture, the land, and how members are expected to interact with each other and their environment. The passing on of these stories from generation to generation keeps the social order intact. As such, oral histories must be told carefully and accurately, often by a designated person who is recognized as holding this knowledge. This person is responsible for keeping the knowledge and eventually passing it on to preserve the historical record. (Hanson, n.d.)
It is also crucial to point out that because of the power of storytelling, Indigenous oral traditions and oral histories helped preserve cultural traditions, albeit underground, during the era of assimilation in which Indigenous people were forbidden, by law, to practice their traditions. (Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., 2021)
Youth Voices Are Heard
How do we use the advancement of technology, social media and online platforms to bridge our awareness, learn from each other, address personal bias and deconstruct systemic racism & discrimination? If you are a high school student in the Grande Prairie region and would like to be a part of growing a storytelling network, the Peyakôskân Podcast Initiative needs your leadership! Have your voice heard, learn production & business skills, connect with experts, mentors and Elders and learn about Indigenous culture. The first cohort begins in January, and registration is now open!
Bedeley, R. &. (2019). Giving Voice to the Voiceless: The Use of Digital Technologies by Marginalized Groups. Communications For The Association of Information Systems.
Hanson, E. (n.d.). Oral Traditions. Retrieved from First Nations & Indigenous Studies University of British Columbia: http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/oral_traditions/
Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (2021, March 1). 11 Things you should know about Indigenous Oral Traditions. Retrieved from Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.: https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/11-things-you-should-know-about-aboriginal-oral-traditions
Taylor, C. (n.d.).
National Indigenous Peoples' Day: The power of stories and storytelling. Retrieved from Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre: https://www.wstcoast.org/news-articles/articles/national-indigenous-peoples-day-power-stories-and-storytelling