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Nak'ota Ma̜k'oc'e: An American Indian Storytelling Performance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2019


Recent research in the anthropology of human movement shows that it is not at all uncommon for people to perform their history. Perform, not only in the sense of reciting epic poetry and myths, but by engaging in complex and elaborate structured movement that quite literally embodies their traditions. Kaeppler (in press), for example, has shown how Hawaiian history is performed through the intricate connections between sung poetry and actions of the hula tradition. Williams (1991) and Arnold (in prep.) have examined how the wallaby dance of the Wanam (an Australian Aboriginal group from the Cape York Peninsula) combines song and dance to re-enact myths which serve not only to confirm the details of Wanam history and identity, but also to renew the socio-religious world in which they live. Likewise, the Assiniboine people of Northern Montana, who are the subjects of this paper, use both speech and action to perform traditional stories which embody their history and world view. In this latter case, however, the action sign system1 used is a fully discursive sign language, rather than a non-discursive or non-propositional movement system of the kind usually, but not always adequately, referred to as “dance.”

Copyright © 1991 by the International Council for Traditional Music

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