Article Analysis Essay on "Indigenous Storytelling as Research"

Paper Type:  Article review
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1779 Words
Date:  2022-12-03


The art of storytelling has been in existence since ancient times. Historians describe the technique as one that dominated during the Stone Age during the human revolution. However, this art of sharing information and knowledge from one generation to the next is still a good virtual and traditional practice among the indigenous communities in North America and Canada. Thus, this study is a critical analysis of Judy Iseke's research article on Indigenous storytelling.

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Judy Iseke's (2013) article, "Indigenous Storytelling as Research" has explored numerous areas relating to the ancient art and its strong roots among the indigenous. At first, when read the abstract, the article sounded too complex and to some extent I felt it did not meet the requirements to complete this assignment. However, in scanning through the google scholar articles relating to the indigenous storytelling, I found a review of the article. The reviewer was more direct into what was in the article and this made me reconsidered my decision.

On reading the article carefully, this time without biasness, I discovered that the article shared the ideology behind the stories and histories of the indigenous elders such as the Metis Elders and how the stories depict sophisticated mindfulness that requires deep respect in research (Iseke, 2013). According to the author, she suggests that the Elder's narratives (a) enrich discussions with new information (sacred, mythical, and personal), (b) storytelling played a pivotal role as pedagogical tool for learning phenomenon that cannot be quantified, such as life, (c) portrayed as a tool of remembering and witnessing, and (d) narratives are a source of strength and spirituality.

It is after reading the specific section that I realized the article not only explored how the Aboriginals learned from each other, but also the article went into details to discuss how the process is done. Iseke applied a qualitative approach to conduct the study, and extended the method to theoretical and critical analysis of the indigenous learning systems. The article aimed to establish a clear understanding on the importance of indigenous storytelling knowledge in research and learning American academia. I can assure you that these objectives were fully met.

Research Approach

The research article mainly includes stories from the Metis Elders as collaborators in investigating the histories, pedagogies, and stories shared by the Metis Elders during the storytelling sessions. The research objective was to understand and critically analyze how the Indigenous stories a knowledge is divided in the past and present through a collaborative analysis. The research aimed to (a) understand and respond to the needs for Indigenous representations and interpretation of their culture and that of the other religions, their histories, curriculum, and pedagogy. (b) Publicize works of the Indigenous elders and council by providing inclined research approaches and opportunities. Lastly (c), establish a clearer understanding of the connection between Indigenous knowledge and mainstream education practices.


Did I find the results valid? Tin efforts to answer this question, I consulted the initial objective of the study, "to establish a clear understanding on the importance of indigenous storytelling knowledge in research and learning" (para. 3). Several factors had to be met to successfully certify that the objective was met. I read the article several times, highlighted key areas discussed, research method used, the population and lastly the finds of the article.

The author contacted four elders who were the main population to be interviewed. The interviews and recording took place at Thunder Bay, in Northern Ontario, for a period of nine-day. Elders had the freedom to explain their stories, knowledge, and experiences in their style as well as share stories they felt they would be most essential to inform the educational project. They introduced themselves to the film crew, who had been given prior cultural training on how to respond respectfully to Elders.

Key topics covered in the research article were indigenous knowledge and stories, indigenous storytelling telling and education, aboriginal history of oral and storytelling, the indigenous languages, their teaching and learning techniques, how the youth and the young generations are involved, and lastly how they teach religious issues and spirituality. The research is, therefore, a review of excerpts from previous publications of the Elders' works as an approach to deliberate on Indigenous storytelling as research.

In addition, the research was not bias in any way in conducting the research and also ensured that the Elders had full freedom to only speak they felt the need to be. However, I found it a little bias to give the Elders the freedom to only speak that that they felt is necessary or relevant to the subject being studied. In addition, the fact that all Elders knew each other could to some degree have influenced the truthfulness of the information given. In making sure that the information was in did valid, The Elders were welcomed to the new territory through a ceremony, offered gifts of clothes and tobacco to signify that each elder would speak nothing but the truth, as they understood it (Iseke, 2013, p. 561). Thus, there is no doubt that the data was valid and the topics explored fulfilled the entire requirements that met the objective of the study.

The dissemination of videos on behalf of the Metis elder's request was an important component of her research, but is also imperative in all Indigenous research agendas. Cora Weber-Pillwax (1999) suggests that the intentions of the researcher must be predicated on the fact that the research will be beneficial in some way to the individuals that are involved in the research process. Kovach (2005), in reference to working with Elders, affirms that accountability and responsibility are innate and essential in the research process. Through her extensive efforts to ensure that the Metis Elders were collaborative partners in the research project, Iseke (2010) undoubtedly embarks on a journey of building and maintaining "respectful relations" (p. 85)The act also meant a sense of responsibility and respect of the researcher to honor and respect the authority and relationship of the Elders and their knowledge.

What areas of storytelling aspects were well covered?

The article was very impressive in how it covered the various aspects of the indigenous storytelling. Oral literature tradition is the backbone of every tribal culture and society. Information, wisdom, and knowledge are passed onto the next generation to help the new generation make sense of the confusing world through the driving force (Garcia, 2016). Iseke's (2010) epistemological grounding is premised on respectful relations, thus promoting storytelling as a suitable research method. The article organized the areas in subheading, which made easier to follow and understand. I found this particular organization and presentation of the article appealing and quite friendly. However, in demonstrating the various aspects, very complex metaphors and native expression were numerously used which made it relatively difficult to interpreted the intentions of the author.

Although the Indigenous stories are many and vary in nature, the research article identified two major types of accounts associated with the Indigenous people. The mythical stories also known as "Atoyohkiwina," which are meant to teach a moral lesson, warn, or challenge the audience to adopt a new behavior or stop behaving in a particular way. The second type of stories identified are stories with an element of personal knowledge and experiences. The primary purpose of these type of stories is to add intelligence to, educate as well as advice the audience on a particular issue (Iseke, 2013). An interesting fact about these stories is that they are not made-up stories and they never change. As the storyteller argues, the 'stories' are not stories literally; instead they are more of advice given to people as a group (Iseke, 2013). On the other hand, the personal stories are referred to as "Acimona," and their major characteristic or distinguishing factor is the aspect of life events... observations, experiences, ideas, and things the storyteller may have interacted with, heard of from another person, place or region. Unlike " Atayohkan," the "Acimona" change over time and from one narrator to another (Iseke, 2013).

Iseke findings suggest that there are three levels of stories. The highest level involves sacred stories, with specific content, context, form, and structure (Iseke, 2013). The storytellers are trained and must specific qualifications to tell the stories. The listeners vary in levels, and each level has its own set of stories and storytellers. This level must always stay that way and never change (Iseke, 2013). The second level discusses Indigenous legends or mythical stories. These stories involve teaching moral lessons or events, and the narrator easily shapes them by drawing from the audience experiences or the teller's experiences. However, the underlying message does not change. The third level is as described by the Elders is the personal or experiences stories that mainly serve the counseling or teaching objectives. In narrating at this level, the narrator (Elder) has to draw from own experiences and personal references that aid the listener to understand, interpret and evaluate the situation at hand (Iseke, 2013). From the above gather of data and the collective collaboration with the Elders, the author not only formed a strong relationship with the participants, but also tried to present the information is as much raw form as possible, to give the reader as much first hand experienced in understanding the process of indigenous art of storytelling.

Indigenous Storytelling as a Pedagogical Tool for Learning About Life

The author discovered that a majority of the original stories from the Elders play a significant role in enabling the listeners to understand life, existences and the relationship between nature and the indigenous people. This aspect of storytelling as an educational tool for learning forms the basis through which the Indigenous communities can interact with the mainstream cultures, and also learn from each other since life and existences build the common grounds for their discussions. As one of the Elders in the article illustrated, " a majority of the Indigenous stories are real and involve real or existing phenome that is known even to other cultures and communities." (Iseke, 2013).

Besides, the author illustrates that when these stories are told in the native language, they become a very significant educational tool for educators. For instance, if said in the native language, they bring together the whole community to the same canoe, where all pad together (Iseke, 2013). In other words, storytelling in the Aboriginals, for instance, forms an element of unity through which every member of the community participating in the storytelling session cannot only learn from the story but also be in unison with the rest.

Indigenous storytelling, particularly those Stories that involve personal life also play a significant role in understanding how the indigenous people use stories as an educational tool in teaching and sharing of knowledge.

The pedagogical practice of storytelling creates an imaginative l...

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