Common Ground: Representation and Language of Place in Indigenous Literature. Sámi and Māori Articulations from a Comparative and Trans-Indigenous Perspective, in Trekways of the Wind by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, and Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings by Tina Makereti

Thesis by: Jean Kavanagh

The topic of this thesis is the representation and articulation of the concept of place within Indigenous literature. A comparative analysis, exploring different Indigenous worldviews, can lend an insight into the relationship of Indigenous peoples to their land, while retaining specific and distinct aspects of the localized experience. The very definition of Indigenous peoples is tied to an association with place; this connection not merely a physical occupation of a territory, but an ongoing conversation that includes relationship to ancestors, flora, fauna, topographical features, and cosmology. Literature allows the expression of the intangible, through the medium of language, which can articulate a sense of place. This concept is examined through the novel approach of comparing two Indigenous literary works from different parts of the world: Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings, a novel by Māori author Tina Makereti; and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s book of Sámi poetry, Trekways of the Wind. The analysis examines how Indigenous concepts of place are represented within these works, with language as a platform to articulate place through naming, translation and story. Finally, the juxtaposition of selected passages from the chosen literature, through Chadwick Allen’s trans-Indigenous methodology, gives a deeper insight into how literature can create a sense of place, from an Indigenous-to-Indigenous perspective.

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