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FFN pisses me off, because it doesn't allow me to respond to comments out in public -- and sometimes people have interesting things to say that others might be curious about.

In response to Duj's thoughtful review:

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A note about Cree words specifically: I’m not a native speaker, and much of Mushkegowak n-dialect Cree has been overrun by Plains y-dialect, which I’m a little better with, so I’ve gone with that when in doubt (I'm sorry). A major difference in pronunciation is that the y-dialect ‘s’ is often ‘š’ in n-dialect, which is pronounced something like ‘sh’ -- but I can’t tell you which words it necessarily holds for. Oh, and my grammar is likely bad. If anyone stumbles by who’s better with the language, I would be entirely grateful if you could help me learn more. In exchange, I have some skill with moccasin leatherwork and beading to offer. :)

Name-sharing taboo was, historically, a real thing. If you (especially as a non-indigenous person) asked someone their name, you’d be directed to a third party, who would tell you that person’s name or, most often, a nickname. I am not going to explain more of the reasoning behind this taboo than I have (i.e., I’m invoking a formal refusal). Among contemporary Cree, name-sharing strictures have largely been abandoned.

Two-Jack’s name-story is entirely fictional – I built it around some stylistic motifs I’m familiar with, but it is definitely not authentic; moreover, I westernized the telling by developing a full narrative around the events, to aid in explanation. But Two-Jack’s name doesn’t need to be authentic, or conveyed in authentic form for it to function properly in the context of this narrative – if we take as given that he was already an old man when Snape knew him, we can place his youth smack in the residential school era. The cultural genocide perpetrated in the schools wiped out such traditions, which – after ~150 years of Hudson Bay Company occupation in the Lowlands area – were already somewhat influenced by Europeans. He could certainly have been given a Cree* nickname by his community (and used it to the exclusion of his Anglo name), but it likely would not have been bestowed traditionally, by a mitew/shaman. So: the story I’ve presented you with is not traditional/authentic, but it could still [fictionally] fit with the cultural and historical context of the region. Finally, there is a subtle philosophical point open for contemplation, which is embedded in the fact that this is a name-story told By A White Guy.**

I doubt any authentic records pertaining to specific Cree naming narratives even exist. While HA Norman has produced several compendia of supposed Cree name stories that have some entertainment value, and are being readily assimilated into contemporary indigenous identities, I harbour distinct doubts as to Norman’s legitimacy as either translator or archivist, given his early history of misappropriation, falsehood, and plagiarism in ‘The Wishing Bone Cycle’ (Brightman 1989, Tricksters and Ethnopoetics; I can send you the pdf if you want it). There's a fairly decent chance that Norman invented some stories, slapped some tribal affiliation on them, and said 'This is what these tribes believe.' A lot of people in the white majority take it as truth, and now some indigenous people -- trying to rediscover their heritage -- are starting to, as well. It's in the same class of actions as JK Rowling snaffling skinwalkers, thunderbirds et al., and saying 'This is what was going on.' -- no, indigenous people probably aren't going to buy her version, but how much of the rest of society will continue to ignore living indigenous cultures, in favour of a colonial worldview?

*Or Ojibway (Anishinaabeg). The Lowland communities of York Factory, Shamattawa, Fort Severn and Peawanuck tend to be mixed, with Cree, Ojibway, Oji-Cree, and Métis members. I've been going with Cree in this story, b/c I'm Cree Métis (mostly Amiskwacīwiyiniwak, but some Maškēkowak filtered the long way through the Red River Valley), and can rationalize to myself that I'm 'appropriating' parts of my own cultural heritage in a respectful manner (and doing my best to research where the tribal-specific traditions differ). Your mileage as to my right/success may vary. We can talk about that.

**There's always background stuff like this going on in the narrative choices, structure, and stylistic devices in my stories. You don't have to bother with it if you don't want to; it doesn't have anything to do with the major plotline of the story -- which is why this note is here on LJ instead of tacked on to the tale. As a reader, I get annoyed with writers who moralize instead of just telling the damn story. So I'm trying to limit myself to being a complete hypocrite over here in the corner instead of out in public.
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I am scribbling away at Quando Omni, although not in strict temporal sequence. A long time ago I mentioned that aspects of this story were political commentary and a response to JK Rowling's treatment of indigenous peoples in her Magic in North America/Ilvermorny essays. Having said that, this reason.com article stresses how residential schools in North America had a fundamentally different cultural context from the British model that the Potterverse nostalgically worships. Too, I'd like to direct your attention to the brilliant, haunting, and provocative new project from Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip): secretpath.ca, which was inspired by the tragic story of Chanie Wenjack.
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