Chapter 4 Lesson 1: Cree Knowledge Embedded in Stories

Chapter 14 from Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998), Tomson Highway (Cree, 1951– )
Excerpt from Darkness Calls (2004), Steven Keewatin Sanderson (Cree, 1976– )
“I’m Not an Indian” (2007), Solomon Ratt (Cree, 1954– )
“The Republic of Tricksterism” (1998) Paul Seesequasis (Cree, 1958– )
“Delivery” (2013), Lisa Bird-Wilson (Cree/Métis)
“Rolling Head’s Grave Yard” (2006), Louise Bernice Halfe (Cree, 1953– )
Excerpt from ”Einew Kis-Kee-Tum-Awin (Indigenous People’s Knowledge)” (2005), Harold Cardinal (Cree, 1945–2005)

The Context
Students will be exposed to Cree stories and storytelling style. They will learn about Cree literature and how to approach it as a body of work influenced by the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual traditions that preceded the arrival of Europeans.



Assessment Focus


Ask students to brainstorm what they know about Cree life and culture.
Discussion questions: Ask students to describe the environment and landscape. Look at a map of Canada.
a) What is the traditional/contemporary Cree territory?
b) What are animals and foods that would be considered indigenous to this region? (pre-colonization)
c) What might be contemporary influences on this region?
d) What relationships exist between provinces and between Canada and the United States?

Observe students’ prior knowledge


Have students read the first two stories in chapter 4: “Chapter 14 from Kiss of the Fur Queen” and “Excerpt from Darkness Calls.” Discussion questions:
a) What are the power struggles that the characters must deal with in each story?
b) What struggles with power do you have in your life?
c) How can these two stories help you manage these power struggles?

Describe the concepts related to identity in Aboriginal literary works (Identity–NBE3U)
Identify aspects of cultural identity related to specific Aboriginal peoples (Identity–NBE3U)
Select and use appropriate writing forms for intended purposes and audiences, focusing on essays, narratives, or poems (Writing–NBE3U)


Have students watch the following anime video on YouTube:

This video connects with the story “Darkness Calls.” It is in the Gitkxan language with English subtitles. Have students respond to the following discussion questions:
a) Where do you feel most safe?
b) How do you cope with challenging situations?
c) Who is someone you would consider a supportive friend or mentor? Why?



Have students watch part 2 of the video:


Teacher Reflection

Read the introduction to the chapter “Cree Knowledge Embedded in Stories” and the last piece in the chapter, which is an excerpt of a speech by Harold Cardinal, “Excerpt from “Einew Kis-Kee-Tum-Awin (Indigenous People’s Knowledge).” This piece by Cardinal is key to this chapter, as it can be used as a way of introducing students to Cree-centred stories.