Living Stories: Godi Weghaa Ets' Eeda.
Therese Zoe, Philip Zoe, and Mindy Willett
Photographs by Tessa Macintosh
Fifth House Publishers
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington St., Brighton, Massachusetts 02135
9781897252444, $16.95, www.amazon.com
"Living Stories" is the latest book in a series called "The Land Is Our Storybook," collections of shared real stories from Canada's native storytellers, Elders and cultural leaders of the Northwest Territories. Authors Therese Zoe and her brother-in-law, Philip Zoe translate some of the traditional stories and sacred wisdom of the Tlicho, with additional input from Elizabeth Chocolate, sister of Philip Zoe. Illustrated with beautiful full color photographs of Tlicho members living in Gameti, a small community of 300 ona peninsula at the south end of a large island northwest of Yellowknife. The ancient waterways trail that Ganeti is on is called the Idaa Trail, which connects Great Slave Lake to Great Bear Lake.
"Living Stories" includes phrases and prayers and sayings in Tlicho with their English translations. It is very important to pass on the learning of this ancient people in some of the words, the language of the Tlicho. (I apologize for being unable to reproduce some of the letters and symbols in their correct form. I have chosen the closest letter similar to the symbol available to me.) It is also very important for the reader to be respectful in reading these sacred stories of the Tlicho. They are taught and retold with a specific purpose to guide the audience of listeners to an understanding of the Tlicho determined efforts to hold on to traditions and culture while embracing the modern world, to stay healthy. Therese Zoe writes, "To us, being healthy means being mindful of self, others, animals, the land, and the spirit world." All of the stories are very precious and are shared sparingly and in part because the Tlicho elders wish to convey the idea that they are living stories, with many, many parts. No one person ever has the entire story, but can share in getting to know the story after hearing many versions of it and then adding their own part. The Tlicho don't want their stories to ever be completed or to stop living. Also, important details such as the names of sacred places in the stories are omitted. If a person wishes to know more about a story's details or such a place, he should go to a learned Elder and ask for more details about these stories, in a very respectful way.
"Living Stories" contains instructions and illustrations about important daily tasks and activities, such as "How to make ehgwaa (dry-fish)," and how to make a birchbark basket. Important bits of history are also included in "Living Stories," such as the saying of one of the Tlicho leaders, Chief Jimmy Bruneau:"Our children will learn both ways; our way and the white man's way." The reader is also introduced to Yamoozha, a very important Tlicho cultural leader who made the world safe and gave all the Dine people, including the Tlicho, their laws.
"Living Stories" contains many beautiful parts of present day Tlicho life in the Northwest Territories. It is like a treasured set of glimpses into the Tlicho world view. "Living Stories" also conveys a respectful, commanding invitation to revisit the source of these living stories, the knowledgeable Tlicho elders.
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|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2009|
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