Who gets to tell Indigenous stories?

Kaleb Nimz-unsplash

In your writing, I always say: remember to enjoy yourself. Take a risk — go into the unknown. Write the forbidden. Give yourself permission to write something you want to read.

This advice comes with a caveat.

If you are a non-Indigenous writer and you are writing an Indigenous story, consult a sensitivity reader and/or an Indigenous storyteller. Show them what you are working on. If they have criticisms and advice, remain receptive to what they are teaching you.

If you do not have a connection to any Indigenous storytellers, consider what structures and systems might be working to create that separation in your life.

To understand more about the power and importance of story to Indigenous cultures, and why it can be damaging to write a story on behalf of a nation you’re not connected to, please read this short piece by our Little Bird judge, Cherie Dimaline.

In it, she answers the question, “Who gets to tell Indigenous stories?”

If you have found yourself writing a story without permission, take this opportunity to pause and begin investigating.

Here are some links and resources to help you get started:

Unreserved: A CBC podcast

Debbie Reese on “Who Can Tell Your Stories?”

These Writers are Launching A New Wave of Native American Literature

And these links will help decolonize your bookshelf:

14 Aboriginal Women Writers to Read this Summer

Indigenous Australian Fiction (from Readings Bookstore)

Grain Magazine’s Upcoming Indigenous Writers and Storytellers Issue

With love,

Photo credit: Kaleb Nimz on Unsplash

How to Write An Ending.


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