Dane-zaa Oral History: Why It's Not Hearsay

  • Robin Ridington UBC
Keywords: Oral History, First Nations, Narrative Technology, Dane-zaa, oral tradition, law, aboriginal rights, beaver people


The Dane-zaa maintain a close connection to the human and non-human persons with whom they live through what I have called "narrative technology" and Amber Ridington describes as "oral curation." An oral history passed on from generation to generation describes people and events that took place over a period of more than 200 years in considerable detail.  The paper reviews literature relating to First Nations oral history in Canadian case law and presents several Dane-zaa narratives about pre-contact times and the early fur trade.  I argue that Dane-zaa narrators should be viewed as oral historians in their own right and that their testimony meets the test of credibility and reliability set out by Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin.

Author Biography

Robin Ridington, UBC

UBC Professor Emiritus of Anthropology

Publications on Dane-zaa, Omaha Tribe, First Nations History & Literature