Ceremony at a boundary fire: a story of Indigenist knowledge

Document Type


Publication details

Adams, DH, Wilson, S, Heavy Head, R & Gordon, EW 2015, 'Ceremony at a boundary fire: a story of Indigenist knowledge', The Authors, Longmont, CO.


This document is a story rather than an unedited and verbatim record of events. Saying it is a story doesn’t mean it’s not true, but that in fact it has been edited to better convey the truth we all experienced as we lived these events together. That is the purpose of story, is to create an opportunity by which a person who was not present during an event can experience and learn from it themselves instead of merely being told what happened. The narrative of this story integrates emails, face-to-face conversations, and reflections in the voices of the different people who took part in what happened. Formatting has been used to try to indicate these different kinds of communication as well as the different voices. Modifications include editing for clarification and brevity (since there were so many hours of conversation), but more significantly include arrangements and rearrangements of timing and syntax to put the story in as traditional a narrative voice as possible. Indigenous stories frequently use repetition as key signifiers and a structure of circular loops within the overall linear sequence of events. That means things sometimes double back on themselves -- which of course is how we all experience life on a daily basis: as something happens in a given instant, we commonly reflect on previous events that now take on a new meaning in light of a present event, or we suddenly anticipate a direction things might go that we hadn’t foreseen. Resources and references that support and/or inform statements such as the one just made about traditional Indigenous narrative form are listed at the end of the document in the order they appeared in the story. The first one on that list provides supporting documentation for the information in this note. These resources are not footnoted in the text so as not to interrupt the flow of the story. Frontispiece and end-piece art tell the story in a different format. Shawn Wilson explains: “The words “text” and “textile” are both from the Latin textus for ‘woven.’ An online etymology dictionary says: ‘An ancient metaphor: thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns -- but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver. The scribes made this old and audible abstraction into a new and visible fact. After long practice, their work took on such an even, flexible texture that they called the written page a textus, which means cloth.