*WINNER* Sharing Stories: Recording Stories that Change in Tracks


  • Linda Stegall


Native American cultures thrives in the cyclical nature and continual existence of change in the world. However, with white culture oppressing and destroying their natural world, Native culture had to adapt to survive. One of the adaptations included the recording of Native stories and later the publication of said stories. Many Native Americans resent this new tradition, as it preserves a single version of the story instead of allowing for the adaptations that comes with storytelling.
My paper focuses on Louise Erdrich’s novel Tracks, a single book in a collection of novels focusing on the same characters experiencing Native life in a more modern world. Erdrich uses Tracks to tell the story of the character Fleur; however, much like Native storytelling, many narrators tell her tale in different, sometimes contradictory ways, providing a customizable story that changes depending on the narrator. I argue that Erdrich’s novel proves that the recording of Native American tales can reflect the original intent—to share ever-changing and growing stories. Contradicting the issue that recording stories is only preserving a corpse of the original intent provides an opportunity for Native Americans to share their stories without the threat of losing them entirely as their culture continues to assimilate into modern American culture. Additionally, novels create an avenue by which the stories can be spread and told to multiple people, including people of different cultures, therein allowing more people to both understand and accurately participate in Native American traditions.