“The truth about stories is that that’s all we are” – Thomas King
“Stories are the key to the endless oratory, the teachings, and the knowledge of our people. It’s not all we are, but when we remember the story, the flood of knowledge locked behind it is let loose.” – Lee Maracle
Whether one agrees with Thomas King’s proposition that stories habit us constantly, or Lee Maracle’s gentle rebuttal, which reminds us that stories need to be recalled and acknowledged to wield their power, there is little argument against their importance. No matter our culture or affiliations, stories are how we connect to our ancestors, our heritage and our past. They shape how we understand ourselves and the world around us. They inform our sense of belonging and breed life into us. Stories are our lives. And we are our stories.
Given their undeniable weight, we ought to pay more attention to them. Where do we find them? How are they told? What do they teach us? Increasingly, stories are shared through digital media, as interactive experiences. This change in medium impacts their form, their reach and their outcome. For Indigenous peoples, who continue to live dominated by a paradigm that is not theirs, new digital technologies yields a spectrum of potential effects. At one end, they can be weapons of modern, and often subtle, colonialism. At the other hand, they can be means to talk back and take back.
This duplicitous nature of technology begs the question of how can we move towards a more diverse and fair one. What are the key storytelling practices that have to be translated in digital media? How can the unique features of cyberspace be harnessed to share and honour Indigenous stories and ways of knowing?
Playing Indians: Indigenous Adventures in the Digital World is an online publication overseen by Laurence Butet-Roch that explore how existing interactive digital media experiences have endeavoured to account for these concerns and meet these challenges.