Blog prompt #1

This is the first blog prompt for our course. I’ll be posting a blog prompt for every book we read. Your job is to respond within one week of the blog prompt being posted. As you will be graded on the effort you put into this, take the time to offer a considered response. There’s no word limit, but obviously you should aim to write more than two or three sentences. Also, in order to ensure your privacy on this public site please do not use your last name. If there is more than one person in this class with your first name, make sure to include your last initial.

In The Truth About Stories, Tom King speaks of the power of stories. “Stories are wondrous things,” he writes. “And they are dangerous.” (9). Stories are also fundamental to how we see and understand the world and also ourselves. In fact, King argues, “the truth about stories is that’s all that we are” (2).

Looking back at the many stories King tells, which one do you think will stick with you the most? In what ways has this book changed your perspectives about stories and about the Native peoples of North America?

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19 Responses to Blog prompt #1

  1. Peter C says:

    Although it may be the easiest to talk about, the story he tells before each chapter gives the reader his idea, and in most cases everyone’s idea, of the truth about stories. It took me a while to reach his main point in the novel because the stories change so much but this is exactly what he’s telling us. The way in which some one tells a story does not mean it’s going to have the same details as another person telling that same story. This is what he’s telling the reader when he reiterates the story about the turtle holding up the earth. Other people’s curiosity can lead to change and one’s imagination and perception is what makes a story change, not necessarily in a bad way. It does not automatically imply that everyone gets the same out of each story and I believe that’s one of the things that empower human thought and perception. King writes, “But, of course, it was too late. For once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world.” This can be the danger of storytelling and this goes along with many of the later novels in the book. Although the story of the turtle will stick with me the most, mainly because it was told multiple times, his main point is what’s important. The way in which he explains how the potential greatness of a story can also lead to another storyteller’s danger is completely true and one does not realize until they think about it, or in my case read this novel. His mother did not have to fight through hard times of being a female in her error but she did and her story is different from that of those who held her back. She made that decision to be a working woman, inferior at the time but she battled through it. Metaphorically speaking, his mother can be described as the turtle that never swims away. Her story doesn’t change.

  2. Anne H. says:

    Skimming over my classmate’s posts, I noticed that many of my peers found the story about Coyote taking the ducks’ feathers to be the most memorable story. This is the story that affected me the most and I will never forget it. Despite it’s simple narrative, this is an incredibly powerful story because of what it proves. Any child would be able to read this story and point out what a crook Coyote is and how he was wrong to do what he did. Since a child could understand these immoral acts of thievery there’s no way to excuse or justify what Europeans did to the Native people of North America. They knew displacing whole peoples was wrong, as again, any kid could see, and yet whites still did it. King’s story really breaks down what the settlers did to the natives into simple terms revealing how Europeans took full advantage of the generous native people. Europeans had no problem having a partnership with Natives upon first arrival to the continent. The Natives helped them learn the way of the land, obtaining furs and information on how to survive this new terrain. Once they got what they needed, the whites did not need the First Nations help and so pushed them out by force and took the land and whatever else they wanted. Like Coyote says, “Oh, they like you well enough. But they like your feathers better” (127), perhaps the whites liked the native people just fine, but when it came to the land that they wanted more, they could not care about the lives of the people who stood in their way. I will never forget this story and I will surely tell it many times in the future.

    King has really changed how I feel about stories. The sheer power behind a story is so much greater than I ever realized. He says that once a story is out there, it’s very hard to get it back. I love how he says that. This made me think about rumors and how once one gets out, even if it’s disproved there’s no way of changing people’s minds—the idea is already there. King taught me about the importance of language, and how not understanding the connotations that go along with another language means you cannot fully understand the story. The Native peoples of North America have so many stories that people of European descent will never hear, or fully understand. While I pity the horrors they have endured, I envy their bond through stories, although we all have our own stories, for that’s all we are.

  3. Katie C. says:

    The story about the ducks and coyote will definitely always stay with me. Even though it was told in a way that a child would understand, the meaning behind this story really put forth and portrayed the betrayal that Natives felt by the invading settlers. Once King said, “Now, I could finish this story but you already know what’s going to happen, don’t you?” I found myself wanting him to finish, even though he was right, I did know what was going to happen.

    King’s way of creating this children’s tale out of such a hardship of his people was incredibly inspiring, that he could take this sad and terrible truth that happened to real people and apply it to animals, almost making it comical.

    This idea, of taking something that is potentially “world ending” and turing it around will always stay with me as well. King is right in saying, “the truth about stories is that that’s all we are”. As long as we can turn things around and change or alter our own stories, we can change and alter our way of being and our way of dealing and our way impacting others. King has changed my perspective on the Native people by showing me how incredible resilient they are by turning their experiences into stories to be shared and passed on in an inspiring and light-hearted way. He definitely showed me that through stories, we can change our own course of nature for the better because it’s easy to change stories, and that’s really all we are.

  4. Shelley M. says:

    There were two stories that stand out for me. In A Million Porcupines Crying in the Dark, King tells about visiting a friend’s grandfather and the grandfather’s tomatoes. Just as the old man was about to pick his beautiful tomatoes, a storm came through and destroyed them. King says to the old man, “you must have been upset.” “Nope,” he replies, “Always good to have some ketchup.”

    The second story was the one that is in King’s Private Stories about his relationship with his friends and their struggles to raise their daughter with FASD. Reading this part of the book led back to the Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial article and the danger of making assumptions without knowing the facts.

    What I took the most from this book and learned is respect for a culture to decide what stories they want to tell to the world and keep to themselves.

  5. Ashley S. says:

    There are actually 2 stories that stood out to me the most: the story of Charm, and the final story that was not part of the Massey lectures.

    The first stuck with me as an interesting take on the creation of the earth. I personally am not religious at all, but not for lack of interest, I simply cannot decide which seems most suitable or viable to me. Charm’s story is, well, charming. Although I don’t really consider it to be all that plausible, or at least not any more plausible than any of the other creation stories I have heard, it does have a certain hopefulness in it that others lack. As King says, the typical creation story of Adam and Eve begins in harmony and falls towards chaos, whereas this story begins in chaos and climbs toward harmony. I like the idea that everything was anarchic and disordered, and then every living thing on the planet cooperated to solve everybody’s problems and form a more perfect world. Perhaps I’m being a bit too optimistic, but it would be nice to believe that everyone in the world could work together, at least on something so important as the world itself. It’s also a refreshing break from the capitalism and monarchy that seem to rule in our country and our creation stories. The fact that there was no one overlord, no all powerful God figure was both more realistic and more just to me. I suppose the reason then that the story stuck with me more than some of the others is that I wish this is the story we had all told ourselves because if it was, and if stories have the kind of power to change our lives the way King says they do, then we would live in a very different and much happier world.

    The second story that really stuck with me was the final story King tells that was only included in the written text, not the oral lectures. Part of the reason this story stood out so much was probably just that its very realistic and easy to relate to; it’s a story that every person can relate to. We are all flawed, we all make mistakes, and we all act selfishly sometimes even though we know we should have acted differently. The particularly interesting part of this story to me is that King says even though he realizes that this story is shameful, and that he acted wrongly, he wouldn’t have changed a thing if he was given the chance to redo this part of his life. It supports the rest of the book and his statement that stories are what we are. He doesn’t regret that he acted this way even though he knows there are ways he could have dealt with the situation better, and he wouldn’t change what he did because his stories are what make him who he is today. If he had acted differently then, believed a different story then, he wouldn’t be the person he is now. Perhaps if he had been a supportive friend lives would have turned out differently, but perhaps not. Either way, his actions were a result of the selfish story he told himself at that time, and now his story of his friend is a result of his actions. This story more than any of the others in the novel really illustrates that “the truth about stories is that’s all that we are.”

  6. Steven H says:

    My favorite story from “The Truth About Stories” was the one involving the ducks and coyote. Although it was very simplistic in nature, I believe that the underlying message of the story was pretty sophisticated. At the beginning of the story I was thinking that King was commenting on the appearance of “Indians” because coyote is trying to look like something hes not (a duck). However, after finishing the story, King explains how the duck is similar to an “Indian” and the coyote is similar to the colonists. Additionally, the way in which King tells the story helps reinforce the reason for the message. He explains how the colonists who came to America, used a strategy similar to coyote’s, when acquiring “Indian things” from the native peoples. They would enact legislation or create treaties that slowly took land, artifacts, and culture away from the native people. Although some things were taken from the native peoples by force, many things were taken because of lies and fear, just like in the story. This story taught me that the native peoples were exploited by colonists in many different ways and that force was not always the worst. It also reminded me that trickery was often used because the native peoples feared for their lives. They did not understand the culture of the colonists and therefore could not react efficiently.

  7. Xinh Xinh N. says:

    I enjoyed reading The Truth about Stories since it is funny and it teaches many lessons throughout the book. Of all the sections, my favorites are “You’ll Never Believe What Happened” and “You’re Not the Indian I Has in Mind.” In the “You’ll Never Believe What Happened,” I like it how King told the readers about his personal stories about his parents. From King’s story about his mother, I admired her hard work and she did not complain when people treated her unfairly since she is a women. She kept hoping that someday, she would be able to achieve her levels of success. Even though the day never came, but she never stopped hoping. As I read through this personal story, I could not help but wondered the purpose of this personal story. I guess that King wanted to show the readers about the good characteristics of Native women in which Native women are hard working and they don’t easily give up.

    In the “You’re Not the Indian I Has in Mind,” I feel connected to the experience that King had been through. People did not recognize him as an Indian because of the way he dressed or his manner. He told the readers about his personal stories like a girl denied to go to prom with him because she thought that he was a Mexican or the immigration denied updating his visa status because they thought that he was an Indian from the Eastern. It is funny how people expect a person to be someone else while they have no idea about the person’s background. The stereotype and racism are crazy, and as King described, they are deadly. Some of my friends often tell me that I am a typical Asian and the way I behave, it is so Vietnamese… I don’t really understand their statements because what they mean by “typical Asian” and “so Vietnamese?” They don’t really know what the phrases mean; they just say it because they want it too. They can’t expect me to someone or understand something that they don’t even know.

    I also like King’s usage of personal stories throughout the book. I feel like as the readers read through the stories, they can find the honesty and personal experience which they can relate and because of that, they bring the readers closer. His word choices are easy to read and his structures are unique. He started each section with the same introduction and the same ending.

    I agree with King about the statement, “Stories are wondrous things and they are dangerous.” For example, people create gossip to talk about others, and in some cases, those gossips can affect others involve in it. Even though the gossip is untrue, but it affects people in many ways.

  8. Jeff S says:

    The story that sticks with me the most is the story about Louis and the others, stuck in the “economic opportunity work program.” This story reached me right off the bat because it was so physical, because the racism and totalitarian unfairness was so vivid and obvious. It seemed crazy to me that something like this could actually have happened in the same country we live in today, and it opened my eyes to a level of security that I enjoy as if there was no longer any alternative. But this story has shown me that the story of America, and where it is today, is not so simple – that the timelines and bills of rights are not as clear as I thought. And though I’ve heard many stories of racism, and of violent racism, this one at this time seemed particularly effective.

    On another level, this story communicated a feeling I find very familiar: the metamorphosis of the real into the story. Louis wonders where the others are now, what they are doing, what they remember of their shared past. For me, this brought the point all the way home that we really are made of stories, that who we are is a story, and that once something happens it is simply a story. I found myself thinking of some of my own stories, and wondering what happened to some people of my past, wondering if they still know the same stories we shared in real life. It was then that I really felt something akin to how the First Nations people must feel, though obviously my taste is not as potent as their full meal of tragic loss (I hope that analogy makes sense). As their language and culture slowly fades, they are left with only stories, stories that lose their meaning and then get lost themselves. Though I understood this before, hearing Louis’ story and reflection allowed me to experience it and relate in a new way that has brought me a little bit closer to understanding the plight of First Nations people, and how it is not truly so different from what each of us experience – it’s just a much larger and much more terrible scale.

  9. Andrew C. says:

    In Thomas King’s narrative The Truth About Stories, I think that the story that will stick with me for the longest time is actually the first one he tells. Titled “You’ll Never Believe What Happened” King presents a new creation story that I had never heard. I grew up in a very religious household and religion still has a very important role in my life. I am still open to hearing about other religions and stories of creation, however. Ever since I can remember, I knew the first verse of the bible. Most people do. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The biblical story of creation is all about the omniscient and omnipotent God who created everything in his image. This has been what I have known for my entire life. I fully believe in this creation story, but I know there are others out there.
    For example, the story King tells about his wild woman who he names Charm. I always predicted, or rather stereotyped, the Native people’s culture. That all of their stories must involve an animal that creates the world and causes a greater good. I thought that Native people must believe in a more animalistic god than the all too common human God, who is also male. King quickly abolished my assumption in telling the creation story that involved a woman. She also did not create the world in her eyes; she used the animals that were already present on the earth. These animals helped her create the earth and mold it into a hospitable environment for all of its inhabitants. King, in the first thirty pages of his novel, was able to vastly expand my understanding of Native Indian culture in North America. King has already opened my eyes and made me want to learn more about Native Indian culture in his first story. This is why “You’ll Never Believe What Happened” will stick with me for the longest time. He was able to change my perception of the Native Culture in a very short amount of time. It also showed me the importance of stories. I had never heard this story, yet I plan on telling it to people. Everyone should know that there is more than one story of creation. Stories do define us. As King says, “the truth about stories is that’s all we are.”

  10. Rachael says:

    Like Chelsea before me, I too was most struck by the story Thomas King chose to so delicately tuck away at the very end of this book. As part of the afterword, my heart sank a bit as I considered the possibility of someone missing it, of not finding it, of not having heard it, although it’s a story most of us have, in fact, in one form or another, heard, read, or experienced before. Among many things, it is a story of things that might have been, of the way we make choices and the consequences we face because of them. It is a private story. A story so intimate that King reserves it for not only the last pages, but for the page alone, to be read alone, and conveys such solitude in feelings of loss, regret, and guilt, that the format in which it is communicated–intentionally not oral, compounds those emotions even further.

    Perhaps it is because the story of his relationship with the Cardinal family pulls on basic and fundamental emotional heartstrings that I found it to be so poignant. Maybe because it is the first time throughout reading the book that I didn’t feel like a complete outsider. Or is it because it best highlights what I think is the golden thread that runs throughout all of King’s stories told: his stripped down self portrayed through his ability and tendency toward humility and honesty. Maybe I fell for that age old cheap literary trick. But, for me, the importance of this story lies in it’s ability to finally integrate the idea that we are all simply and entirely comprised of stories. I understood that conceptually, but wasn’t sure that I had felt that yet. And once those stories are told, once we create them- we cannot take them back. We can create different ones, but we cannot change what has been told in the past. And knowing this, King poses more questions-will we choose new stories if we don’t like the old ones? Will we choose to speak more wisely? To listen more carefully?

  11. Kaleigh M says:

    I believe that one of the first stories within the novel “The Truth About Stories” is the one with which I have formed the closest bond. In the eyes of Tom King, this bond is not ridiculous nor juvenile, but nearly the normal relationship that is formed between a story and a member of its audience. The story of Charm was told in the most fascinating way; a casual tone littered with humor. It almost seemed as though the speaker was taunting the normal, dragged out, dramatic tone in which many stories in the contemporary Western World are told nowadays. The manner in which the speaker keeps a casual tone with the audience does many things: for one, it eases the reader into the partnership with the speaker. We trust our speaker more for their seemingly common jargon. We are also more easily able to connect the stories to our modern day lives with the modern touches thrown into Charm’s story’s dialogues. “I’ve got this craving, said Charm. What kind of craving? said Fish. I want to eat something but I don’t know what it is. Maybe you’re pregnant, said Rabbit. Whenever I get pregnant, I get cravings” (Page 12). This modern hilarity keeps the story in close contact with our own discourses. I suppose this effected me so much because I was really able to relate this story to my own existence and conversations. It is one of the first stories (and by stories I mean tales or different forms of folklore) that I have been able to think of as a mirror, allowing me to look back at my own life and see how it compares.

  12. cwcollie says:

    The Tom King story that will stick with me most from The Truth About Stories is going to be the Charm creation story. Not specifically the details of the actual story itself, but the way it made me question my own philosophies as well as societies’. Obviously I really enjoyed and was somewhat blown away by King’s story-telling techniques if they have me calling into question my lifestyle/beliefs. But then again as King tells us, stories are all we are and what we make of these stories can truly effect our daily lives. So am I the good, decent person I tell myself I am, which I back up with countless stories I contain in my memory bank (For example, picking the worse kid first in kickball in 1st grade) or do I just tell myself these things to blind myself from reality? Am I part of this “Homo Economicus ‘R’ Us” that implies the basic motivation in all people lies in selfish material desires? And if this question even proves to be partly true, it certainly sounds like one of the fundamentals of American freedom – being able to improve one’s self by hard work – has been distorted to mean “every man for himself, forget about others.”
    It may seem I am questioning the economic policies of America, and I just may be doing that, however I had a slightly different focus that brings me back to the Charm creation story. Being raised Catholic, I was always taught to love my neighbor/enemy, treat others as you want to be treated, be a “good” person, forgiveness, and it goes on and on. So when King illustrates the scenario of a God who forgives and is compassionate to Adam and Eve after The Fall, I started to think that story made a lot more sense than the actual account in Genesis. That story obviously included punishment, banishment from Eden, and great burdens God puts on humankind for eternity. “I love you, God could have said, but I’m not happy with your behavior. Let’s talk this over. Try to do better next time.” Is this scenario and reaction of God not exactly how I was taught to react to someone hurting me? Then again who knows, maybe I’m entering that “stories can be dangerous zone” King speaks of.
    Besides making me question some of my most basic roots, The Truth About Stories absolutely opened my eyes about the origins of these original people. I realized I certainly did hold the same assumptions/biases about natives and “real” Indians, because of the little education I received on these people. I really cannot wait to learn more about the origins, lifestyles and tribulations of these people.

  13. Joe A. says:

    I will talk about the chapter “What is it about us that you don’t like?” because I think that this question (and the stories in the chapter) are very important pieces to the puzzle of the “Indian Problem.” Mainly, what is the problem and why is it a problem?

    The chapter began with a Coyote story, the story of Coyote and the Ducks. This snippet (he didn’t go through the whole story) stuck in my mind because I thought the relationship between the two animals was thought-provoking and telling, and the way King told the story was engaging and entertaining. For example, he added his own touches that made it appeal to the 21st century reader in me. Sentences like “Anyone who is anyone has feathers” and “Fight? Fight whom? said the Ducks, who were well versed in the rules of grammar” made the story feel “updated” and relevant to our modern world. It also kept the story entertaining and humorous, which I appreciated, and it gave an appropriate feeling of voice, so that I could almost hear King telling the story out loud.

    The Coyote wanting to steal all of the Ducks feathers made me think about how this Wanting harms not only the Ducks, but the Coyote as well. The Ducks are of course losing their feathers, but the Coyote is selling himself short, thinking he is not good enough because he doesn’t have feathers. I think this might symbolize a great harm that stealing can cause. Not only are the victims losing out (the Ducks, the Indians, the colonized), but the thieves (Coyote, colonizers, governments who deceive) are doing themselves a harm as well. By taking from others (land, feathers, freedom, opportunity, culture) we are destroying some of the truly amazing diversity that sustains life – we can no longer learn from, watch grow, or be in a healthy relationship with those who we steal from and that which we steal. I know I was supposed to feel sorry for the Ducks, and I did, but I also felt sorry for the Coyote.

    The way that King moved from the Coyote story to a concise history of Indian legislation in America and Canada was great. I thought this was some fascinating history to know and it really made me see how systematic the eradication of Indians has been, and how it continues today (I think we tend to think of these problems as being in the past). I thought the part where King explained how the “status” thing works was great and of course disturbing at the same time because it ends with No Indians. Although the ‘why’ might not be an answerable part of the Indian Problem, King presents a pretty compelling explanation of the ‘how’ (through legislation) in this chapter.

  14. Susan T. says:

    My parents raised me Catholic, always going to church and Sunday school, reading and learning from the stories in the bible, especially Genesis (The Catholic’s Creation story). However, as I grew older I developed my own thoughts and ideas and strayed away from the religion. So the story that stuck with me most is the creation story with Charm. I liked this story a lot because of how everyone in the story worked together to create the world, not using the idea of a hierarchy.

    From reading “The Truth About Stories” I learned that a story is not just a story that it has meaning and that there is always something, always someone behind it. I like when King said something like be careful about what stories you tell and put out there because once they are out in the open you can’t take them back. I feel like that is so true because the stories you tell may hurt someone, or may not be true, or can be exaggerate into something else.

    As for my perspective about the Natives people of North America, I honestly didn’t really have one before. I didn’t have one because I didn’t know that much about them. So my new perspective is that they are very interesting people with a lot of history, and that they weren’t always treated fairly. I feel as if my perspective will grow as we read more stories, and learn more from the other books we are going to read this semester.

  15. Chelsea G. says:

    The story that stuck with me the most was the story in “Afterwords: Private Stories” about Thomas King’s relationship with his friend John. This story struck me on a personal level because I have relationships in my life that remind me of King’s relationship with John. It is hard to be available and supportive when all you find in a relationship is pain. I can see that if I let things continue as they are, I will have my own private stories haunting me. When I finished reading King’s private story and he says “Just don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story.” I almost cried. This showed me an important aspect of stories that I hadn’t seen before. Stories remind you of the mundane things that have faded into the background. It isn’t that I had forgotten about the dying relationships in my life, it is just that I had gotten used to not remembering. King’s private story didn’t give me any sudden insights on how to live my life, but it did remind me that I have problems that need facing.
    Another thing that struck me about “Afterwords: Private Stories” is when King says that he can’t tell this story orally. Having a purely written story in a book of lectures made me think about the differences between written and oral and about King’s assertion that oral stories are public and written stories are private. This made me realize that the difference between public and private might not have anything to do with how many people can access a story. It could be that the distinction comes in the connection between the storyteller and the audience. In an oral performance, there is a bond between the storyteller and the audience. The reader of a written story, though, has no first hand contact with the writer of story. Even if the writer of the story is sitting in the same room as the reader, the reader creates a world in their mind while reading the story, and that world does not include the writer. King is able to use both mediums to tell his stories. King tells his first five stories publicly and his final story privately. We talked in class about how King used the form of his stories to tell us about stories, he used repetitive patterns to show how oral stories stay stable even as they change. I think that King does this again with the inclusion of “Afterward: Private Stories.” He is showing that both oral and written literature have there place, that neither one is better than the other and that they both have their place.
    Another important message in The Truth About Stories is that we all tell ourselves stories and that these stories affect our lives. This made me think about stories in a new way. I started to wonder what kind of stories I am telling myself. We all realize it when we hear a story like the one told by the witch that was so evil that the other witches called for that witch to take it back and this realization allows us to resist these stories. We have more trouble with stories that don’t seem so bad. I have never read anything by Karl May, but I assume they don’t reek of evil, and yet, they led the German cook to create an image of Native Peoples based on fiction. It seems that before we can begin to learn about the Native Peoples of North American, we first have to examine what we already “know.” The Truth About Stories reminded me that there are always more stories to tell and that the Native Peoples are not done telling their stories.

  16. Lauren K. says:

    I think the story that will stick with me that most is the creation story with Charm. Being a Christian I have heard the creation story in Genesis several times and I found it very interesting to hear another creation story. I am very interested in hearing all the different creation stories out there. I like this story in particular because it can be told in many different ways and to many different audiences. This is definitely one of Thomas King’s main ideas in “The Truth About Stories.” Stories are what you make of them. Stories are able to change and evolve depending on the different circumstances surrounding them. The stories a person chooses to tell helps show who a person is or who they are not. I think this story is significant because of how the author told it. He went into great detail making this story really come alive and jump into our minds. I like the contrasting ways he told this story and Genesis because the creation story in Genesis basically everyone knows. He only did this in a way to prove his point. Stories will be what you want them to be. I also like the contrasting endings of the two creation stories. In Charm’s story it doesn’t end badly. Charm, the twins, the humans, and the animals all look around and agree that this is a beautiful world. In doesn’t say anything about sin or disobeying the rules. In Genesis, it ends with Adam and Eve disobeying God and having to leave the beautiful garden and sin is now present in the world. I think it was good to show this difference.

    Reading “The Truth About Stories, ” has opened my eyes to all the different Native stories out there that I had never heard. This class has also opened my eyes to all the misconceptions I share about Native Americans. Coming into this class I believed all those photos were of real Indians. I like reading these stories because they help show me things about Native Americans that I have never learned before. I am very interested in reading more stories about the Indigenous people of Canada. I have not had much experience in the subject and I am looking forward to learning more. I really like how Thomas King ties in a personal story of his in every chapter while still talking about a Native story. It makes the book very personal and helps me make lots of connections to the stories. For me this makes it very easy to read and enjoy the stories.

  17. Elizabeth C says:

    My initial response to this question, ‘which story will stick with you the most?’ was, ‘the one about the cook on the ship.’ This is the story I remember right away when I think back on all of the stories within this book. But it is not the one that touched the greatest chord with me at the time that I read it. That story was the one about the man – the author, Louis Owens – who shot himself in the airport garage. I cannot touch it, it is not mine, I can only quote what the author said about the story which Louis must have told himself at that time in his life: “Whichever one it was, for that instant Louis must have believed it.”

    When stories are used in a positive way, they give us the ability to reshape our beings. But when stories are allowed to control our destiny, we lose the ability to break free of wounds. I understand the depth of the importance of stories: we have no other way to explain life. This book will not change my actions; it has only given me a greater appreciation of our need as human beings to reach out to orient and stabilize ourselves in the world we live in, that stories are the ropes which tie us to all parts of the world – our history, our present, our relationships, our selves – and they anchor us so that we never feel lost in the world we live in.

  18. Elizabeth C says:

    Hello everyone,
    My name is Elizabeth, and I’m from Grand Isle, Vermont. I decided to take this course when a friend suggested it to me. I have already taken Anth 160, a course called Native American Indians – a description which does not accurately give a sense of the not-usual manner in which the professor presents this history. His course made me aware of the existence of the perceptions, or should I say, lenses, through which we – as people – view cultures different from our own, and I liked his course. I found it stimulating and am interested in reading more literature by First Nation’s writers; I hope that it will give me a greater understanding and respect for what Native peoples experience still.
    My only connection with Canada is through my grandmother on my mother’s side. My grandmother’s parents were born in Quebec, and they moved to Winooski where my grandmother grew up. Because of this my mother would sometimes speak in French to my grandmother, and certain traditions – particularly regarding food – remain in the family as well.

  19. Ali V. says:

    Out of the many essays in “The Truth About Stories”, I was most intrigued by “You’re Not the Indian I Had in Mind”. This essay really made me think about the common misconceptions and generalizations people make in regards to Native Americans. I was also disturbed when I read this particular essay because I realized that I often think of Native peoples in the stereotypical way that is described by King. This essay will stick out in my mind for a long time because I am haunted by the idea that I often succumb to the generalization that all Native peoples can be categorized into one identity. Before reading this essay, I was not familiar with the work of Edward Sheriff Curtis. I found it interesting to note that he “was fascinated by the idea of the North American Indian, obsessed with it. And he was determined to capture that idea, that image, before it vanished.” This really troubled me because it made me wonder how the “typical Indian” had been formed in the minds of Europeans in the first place. I did not like the idea that I have accepted the stereotypical pictures I have seen of Native peoples in modern day as being truthful. This essay also interested me because of the account of King’s prom in which his prospective date’s parents would not allow him to bring her to the prom because he was “Mexican”. This fascinated me because it brought to life the racism and the ignorance that exists throughout society. Overall, this essay really disturbed me because it emphasized the racism that is ever present in our society, even if the racism is not directly meant to be malicious.
    This book really changed the way I think about the Native peoples of North America and stories in general. Before reading “The Truth About Stories”, I had never thought about the difference between stories when they are told orally and when they are written down. Because King started and ended each essay with the same general story and phrases, with different elements mixed in, I realized that the message of these stories was the same but they were told in slightly varying ways. This intrigued me because I learned, as we have talked about in class, that stories really can be changed to fit the audience while still portraying the overall message or theme. This book also taught me not to generalize Native peoples into one category because this is an unfair and unfounded assumption. I will definitely view Native peoples in a different light in the future because I am now able to look beyond the stereotypes and see each person as an individual instead of all Native peoples as a collective group. “The Truth About Stories” gave me a new perspective on the art of story telling and the uniqueness of Native peoples.

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