Kluskap - as local culture hero and global green warrior: Different narrative contexts for the Canadian Mi’kmaq culture hero

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The first stories about Kluskap, the culture hero of the Mi’kmaq in eastern Canada, were written down at the end of the 19th century. The romantic epoch and the environmental failures of industrialism had generated a growing interest for the “Indian”, who seemed to inherit the continent’s authentic “poetry of the Volk” and harbour deep wisdom about nature. The first written literature about Kluskap must be read against this background: as romantic stories about a culture, which soon will disappear. Early ethnographers tried to be more “scientific” than their predecessors, but modern anthropologists and historians have successfully deconstructed the White men’s stories about Kluskap. Yet there is still a narrative voice in them that is Mi’kmaq, which shows a local effort to handle the loss of their land, the new life in the reserves, and the conflation of Kluskap with Christ. This voice was gradually silenced when the children were put in schools and the reserves participated in the modernization of Canadian society. Kluskap left Mi’kmaq country but promised to return.
Panindianism and “ethnic nationalism” brought Kluskap back again. The setting for his return is another than the one he left. Environmental and social justice movements created a new interest for the indigenous people. Mi’kmaq could suddenly read stories in school, watch television productions or traveling plays about their old culture hero, all produced by the White society. They can still listen to their Elders, who are now familiar with the modern versions, but also use Internet as a “storyteller”. In 1990 Kluskap does “return” to help his people prevent a quarry on top of his sacred cave.
The story of Kluskap has shifted from a local, oral setting to a modern, global one, but it is still useful to the Mi’kmaqs. As a "little" story, it has been evaluated from the "great narrative view" and the modern version discredited for not being "true tradition". But little stories have power: Kluskap rescued the mountain from environmental destruction.


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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Religionshistoria


Sidor (från-till)17-38
TidskriftActa Americana
Utgåva nummer1
StatusPublished - 2001
Peer review utfördJa