Who owns the story of a people? When I first heard this question I thought it was a strange question. Of course I thought no one owns the story of a people. The story belongs to everyone and we must listen to everyone to come to the truth.
However my Dad, Darryl , is quoted in an article that states that this is an important question (you can read the article by going to coffee with Warren and then clicking on 2006 columns and then clicking on Who has the Right to Tell the Aboriginal Stories? - July 12). My Dad states that: "The story is who we are. The story is the people, the people are the story." We are defined by the stories that we tell and by the stories that we do not tell. The stories that are held together are what make a people a 'people' instead of a group of individuals who live near together. In fact stories can make a people a 'people' regardless of the distance between them. Since stories are what really define a people who has the right to tell their stories? My Dad points out a couple things in the article. First is that if the person telling the story is outside of the culture we need to be asking what might they be missing. Would people of that culture tell the story differently? Would the person telling the story be making distinctions that the culture does not (in other words how is their culture affecting the way that they tell another culture's story). Second, is we need to asking why is this person telling the story. For this will affect how they tell the story. Everyone has slant.
With all this said I ask the question again "who owns the story?" I said at the beginning that no one owns the story and all must be listened to get to the truth. However what truth are we talking about? The truth of why certain things happened? Different cultures will give different answers this question. Our culture which denies the "super-natural" looks only for natural explanations. Other cultures will look for "super-natural" reasons. Who has the truth? Also there are times when I can hardly explain rationally why I do something. Why would I think that I will be able to give a definitive answer on why something happened in history? (This does not mean that should not seek these answers but that we should realize our answers are shaky at best). Or perhaps the truth we seek is the truth of the people, who are these people. Then it seems that the people have first dibs on their story. The way they tell their story has to take precedent over how others tell their story. Though I do recognize that we do not define ourselves in isolation. Others also define us by the stories that they tell of us - so we need to also hear those stories (though often those stories will say more about the people telling the story then about the people the story is about).
So what stories are we listening to? Who is telling those stories? Why are they telling them?