Owners of the Past: Readbacks or Tradition in Mi'kmaq Narratives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


When the ethnographer Wilson Wallis did his first fieldwork among the Canadian Mi’kmaq Indians 1911, one recurrent character in their oral tradition was the traditional culture hero Kluskap. When Wallis returned to Nova Scotia in 1953 he found that not many Mi’kmaq in the thirties had heard about Kluskap, and if they had, it was through books or the television series “The Adventures of Glooscap”.
Thirty years later, in 1989, the Mi’kmaq strongly rejected the plans to establish a superquarry at Kelly’s Mountain on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Their main reason was that the mountain with its cave is believed to be the dwelling place of Kluskap and the place from where he is expected to return to his people. Is the modern Mi’kmaq knowledge about Kluskap only their readbacks of texts by non-native authors? This paper seeks to examine the Mi’kmaq relation to that Kluskap tradition which had been depicted by non-native authors in television series, theatre plays, and books. How do the modern Mi’kmaq evaluate mainstream society’s texts about their culture hero?


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Religions


  • Mi'kmaq, narratives, readback, storytelling
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNative American Performance and Representation
EditorsSteve E. Wilmer
PublisherThe Univerisity of Arizona Press
ISBN (Print)978-0-8165-2646-8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)