CBC Digital Archives

'Our Native Land': Storytellers

On Saturday afternoons for 21 years, dedicated listeners would "get their bannock and tea," and tune into CBC Radio for news from Our Native Land. The first - and so far only - national radio program focused on native issues and cultures, it chronicled the rejuvenation of native literature, art, culture and political activism beginning in 1965. Hosts included Johnny Yesno, Bernelda Wheeler, Albert Angus and Brian Maracle, who were part of the all-aboriginal production team.

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"As the Christmas story is shared, we also share in the stories and legends of our people," says Our Native Land host Bernelda Wheeler on Boxing Day, 1981. On this show, some of Canada's best aboriginal storytellers share their nation's stories. They include Rita Joe on "the little people," Donald Kaglik with a tale on arctic survival, and Maria Campbell on a Métis fiddler and Jesus. Mohawk chief Francis Boots talks about the Peacemaker Deganoweida, Basil Johnston presents a Nanabush adventure, and Nora Thomas shares her family's legend of the white buffalo.
• "Storytelling was often used among native peoples, not only for moral teaching, but for practical instruction, to help you remember the details of a craft or skill, and for theoretical instruction, whether about political organization or the location of the stars. One advantage of telling a story to a person rather than preaching at him directly is that the listener is free to make his own interpretation. If it varies a little from yours, that is all right ... However many generations have heard the story before the youth who hears it today, it is he who must apply it to his own life." - George Manuel and Michael Posluns, The Fourth World, 1974.

• "The most important of all our rights ... is the right of our elders to define their centuries-old perception of our Creator, and to perform the centuries-old religious rituals from which all the true values of our Indian society stem. Only then is our right to follow the path shown to us by the Creator sacrosanct. Then, and only then, will our rebirth be complete." - Harold Cardinal, The Rebirth of Canada's Indians, 1977.
Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: Dec. 26, 1981
Guest(s): Frances Boots, Francis Boots, Maria Campbell, George Cloudesey, Rita Joe, Basil Johnston, Donald Kaglik, Nora Thomas
Resource: Bernelda Wheeler
Duration: 44:26

Last updated: July 7, 2014

Page consulted on July 7, 2014

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