Movement ofsong and dance across a national border: the story of the Hän songs
(University of Aberdeen)
Paper short abstract:
In 1903, the traditional territory of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation was bisected by the imposition of a national border. Rather than a disruption of movement, this paper focusses on how Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in leadership facilitated and continue to engage with the flow of creative musical practices.
Paper long abstract:
Over a century ago, the traditional territory of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation of Yukon, Canada was bisected by the imposition of the Canadian-American border. Such colonial encounters are often discussed with reference to the disruption of traditional patterns of movement and the alienation from kin, now on the other side of a national boundary. This paper will take an alternative approach, focussing instead on how Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in leadership facilitated, and continue to engage with, the flow of creative practices across the vast North American Arctic and sub-Arctic. It analyses the story of Isaac, Chief during the early 20th century. Seeing the impact the border and other colonial policies were having on his people, he chose to take the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in songs and dances across to their newly-American kin, depositing them there for safekeeping until such a time as they could safely return home. The songs and dances began to be slowly returned in the early 1990s, spurred by a burgeoning movement for linguistic revitalization amongst the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in. This movement of creative practices in and out of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in community remains an active process to this day. The contemporary return of songs and dances is a complicated, incomplete, and ongoing process — a process which this paper takes as a point of focus to examine how resilient communities find creative ways of encouraging movement in the face of seemingly impenetrable obstacles.
Tilting the globe: creativity, transition and stasis in the Circumpolar North