Trying to Get It Back
Indigenous Women, Education and Culture
Trying to Get It Back: Indigenous Women, Education and Culture examines aspects of the lives of six women from three generations of two indigenous families. Their combined memories, experiences and aspirations cover the entire twentieth century.
The first family, Pearl McKenzie, Pauline Coulthard and Charlene Tree are a mother, daughter and granddaughter of the Adnyamathanha people of the Flinders Range in South Australia. The second family consists of Bernie Sound, her neice Valerie Bourne and Valerie’s daughter, Brandi McLeod — Sechelt women from British Columbia, Canada.
They talk to Gillian Weiss about their memories of childhood, informal learning and schooling, their experience and changing aspirations in raising their own children and educating them in both their traditional and the dominant cultures. They also talk to each other via video conferencing, sharing their personal experience and those of their peoples as colonized nations, and they discuss their current positions as they fight to reclaim, regain and revitalize their traditional cultures. The education of their own peoples as well as the dominant societies is something they see as crucial for their futures; it is a path that they feel has already acheived some success. They document the difficulties, the pain, but also the triumphs of growing up in Western societies.
The narratives are in their own words, speaking directly to the reader and allowing analysis and interpretation at multiple levels. They are prefaced by a brief history of the two peoples and set between a methodological Foreword and a summative Afterword by Gillian Weiss.
"The women's stories are as riveting as they are multi-faceted. Weiss's inclusion of multiple generations within the two tribes is effective because it depicts each tribe as fluid, shifting, and alive; rather than a static, flat history of what once was. "- Patricia Ploesch, Indigenous Nations Studies Journal, 5:2, Spring 2004