Question: 1. Who are you, where are you from and why have you decided to take this course?
(1) Dear Dr. Victoria Castillo and fellow students, Good afternoon! My name is Gurdeep Pandher (A.K.A Gurdeep Singh Pandher). I am originally from Punjab, born in beautiful Sikh-Punjabi culture, but I have been living in Canada since 2006. I came to the Yukon in 2011 and fell in love with the beautiful-natural landscape of the Yukon and friendly people here. So, now the Yukon is my home. I decided to take History of Yukon First Nations and Self-Government course not only to learn more about the rich history and culture of our aboriginal people, but also to further immerse myself in their knowledge, teachings, understanding and wisdom, shared by their many thoughtful elders. I am looking forward to this engaging and very important journey of our Yukon story.
2. Please discuss the different approaches to studying Indigenous history?
(2) There are two types of approaches to studying Indigenous history – scientific and oral storytelling. Scientific approach is based on facts and figures, usually in the form of written words through books or journals. Whereas the oral storytelling is passed from a generation to next in the form of tales, usually in the form of words-of-mouth. Scientific approach mostly stays the same for many years/centuries (until a new discovery is made), but oral storytelling gets influenced in the way listeners perceive and they further share the story to their next generation about indigenous history. Oral storytelling also reflects the wisdom and culture of time of the story era, which mostly stays missing in the scientific method. One can find many nuances from storytelling based on his/her person information or perception, but scientific method stays close to the facts. Oral storytelling is more cultural, family or social celebration event, while scientific approach can be very private or done by just one person. But both approaches carry their importance based on the different context of learning or education of indigenous history and culture. Elders bring very useful moral wisdom in history and cultural learning, while science brings rationale. Both ways go together side-by-side and help us understanding of very important times of our great and wonderful indigenous history. Julie Cruikshank’s writing provides many interesting and marvelous stories narrated by the Yukon elders like Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, and Annie Ned. We learn how crow and fox played their roles in creation of the Sun, Moon and Earth. Without this information, it would have been difficult to understand various narratives of Yukon indigenous cultural formation and subsequent aboriginal history. From the same document, we learn how our elders have specific aboriginal names for the Yukon mountains, rivers and forests! How indigenous languages played their roles in formation of the history! We learned all this from the great stories told by Yukon’s great elders. I agree to Julie Cruikshank’s words, “Mythology differs from science. But both are organized systems of knowledge based on close study of environment.”