The Use of Film as a Vehicle for Traditional Storytelling Forms

Carol Geddes


Introduction. One way storytelling and narrative heal is by helping families, communities, and even whole cultures develop and maintain a sense of who they are in the face of disruption, conflict, and change. Without this anchoring sense of identity, it is difficult to remain healthy in a rapidly changing world. The building of the Alaska Highway in the early 1940s was just such a disruptive experience for many First Nations people in the Yukon, and its legacy persists today. A foreshortened sense of the future and its possibilities is a common aftermath of traumatic experiences—and rapid cultural change can be traumatic. This presentation points out ways that narrative forms can help people who are caught in the turmoil of such change to rebuild a sense of identity and develop a more positive view of the future and its directions.

Carol Geddes, a filmmaker from Teslin, Yukon, paraphrases Hopi storyteller Terry Tafoya when she talks about storytelling for these purposes as “a sacred and necessary responsibility.” As technology has changed, so have some aspects of storytelling, but the healing possibilities remain. In her film, Picturing a People: George Johnston, Tlingit Photographer, Geddes shows how she has adapted some of the traditional healing benefits of storytelling to a modern medium. At the same time Geddes’ presentation also makes a strong case for another, more traditional form of storytelling. In talking about how she came to make this film, Geddes tells her own personal story of finding her identity as a Native filmmaker. WHA

  • Carol Geddes, P.O. Box 205, Teslin, Yukon, Canada Y0A 1B0

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