Alaska Native oral forms of education, history and legend benefit from a profoundly personal relationship-based approach to one of the most important ways we connect. Verbal communication is breathing, evolving, raw with vulnerability and very much rooted in a present form of communion. Reciprocity and relationships are foundational values of Yup’ik culture, and it makes sense that those beliefs are grounded in how we express ourselves, learn and pass on ways of life.
In small groups, Yup’ik storytellers used a carved ivory yaaruin (story knife) to draw in the dirt, snow, or mud to illustrate the narration. Each episode was cleared, making room for the next. Qulirat (legend) tales are ancient that don’t involve a specific person, such as origin stories, unlike qanemcit stories (root word meaning “to speak”), a historical narrative of an individual. Both types of stories exist on a continuum, both containing viable knowledge.
This course examines the protocols around storytelling, the audience’s responsibility, different types of stories, and how place impacts the storytelling experience—for example, sitting around a fire and sharing food while listening to how the hunter caught that animal. It differs from memorizing historical events repeated in different locations to future generations. Or from a movie, poetry, or song.
Lessons include student craftwork in story creation, exploring how the relationship with place impacts telling those stories. And how harvesting, preparing, cooking and sharing food are tied to storytelling and healing. Assigned readings from All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis and No Country for Eight-Spot Butterflies: A Lyric Essay examines how the power of stories disarm and invite us to engage with heavy subjects such as environmental and social justice.
This course is part of the project, Far Away yet So Very Close: Embodiment of Culinary Wisdom and Storytelling, which the Visual Arts faculty member, Yoko Inoue, collaborates with diverse scholars, artists, activists, collectives and practitioners to coalesce and develop Critical Kitchen Pedagogy for in-situ learning.
This course is conducted during three consecutive weekend sessions: April 14-16, April 21-23, and April 28-30.
Students should be available during the following dates and times for on-site, hands-on workshops that include participatory culinary sessions and communal meals:
Fridays 4:30-9 pm / Saturdays 10:00am-12:30pm * / Sundays 10:00am – 1:00pm
*Some additional meetings on Saturdays from 7:00-9:00pm may be required.
Students should be ready to learn through workshops, field research, food prep and discussions.
- Understand fundamental differences between culture appreciation vs. culture appropriation.
- Examine what is a story and why is it so powerful?
- How to approach challenging systemic problems such as climate change and racism through story, food and healing.
- Object creation of tools and implements to be used in cooking
- How to tell stories related to place and harvesting
Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: A paragraph indicating interest in narrative from the BIPOC perspectives to email@example.com. Please describe how it applies to your research and/or creative work and experience.
Course Level: 4000-level
TBA (3rd module block)
Maximum Enrollment: 8
Course Frequency: One time only
Categories: 3rd Module Block , 4000 , All courses , Fully In-Person , Two Credit , Updates , Visual Arts (VA)
Tags: activism , climate change , collective thinking , collectivism , community , cooking , environmental racism , food , healing , indigenous values , land , relationship building , responsibility , social justice , Storytelling