Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Great Plains Quarterly 30:3 (Spring 2010).


Copyright © 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


In its final report in 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples observed that Canadians have little knowledge of Aboriginal people, the issues of importance to them, and the history that underlies Aboriginal-non-Aboriginal relationships today. How can this be changed? In Braiding Histories, Susan Dion takes up the complexities of transforming the consciousness of non-Aboriginal people through education.

The book is organized around three focal points. First, the author and her brother Michael Dion {re)write and {re}tell the life stories of several Aboriginal people, including Beothuk survivor Shanawdithit, the Plains Cree leader Mistahimaskwa, and the writers' mother, Audrey Dion, who grew up on the Moravian of the Thames Reserve in Ontario. The stories are rigorously constructed to challenge common stereotypes and to create possibilities of discovery for the reader. The particular concerns of the storytellers are to reveal the humanity and agency of Aboriginal people and to encourage non-Aboriginal readers to recognize their own connection as Canadians to the historical and continuing oppression of Aboriginal people. Second, Dion outlines in detail her "Braiding Histories Project." In this study, she analyzes the teaching of two of the stories by three intermediate grade non-Aboriginal teachers. Third, Dion shares her own efforts to teach a graduate course called "Teaching and Learning from Indigenous Ways of Knowing" to teachers.