The power of Yukon stories
Good stories resonate all over the world. The stories of First Nation elder Marge Jackson spoke to my students in a cultural anthropology class this past spring at New Mexico State University and they wanted to send Marge a personal greeting.
Marge has a gift for making her country, the lessons she learned from her elders and her experience of living on the land involve and enchant people.
At almost 94, she has a wisdom that allows her to engage her listeners in how she understands change and meets it as directly as a compass needle points north. Her traditional stories speak about the importance of place and how features on the landscape and animals contain the lessons needed to survive. She is a natural teacher and the power of her life is a testimony to ability to share with everyone.
After reading her book, My Country is Alive, and listening to her CD, Stories and Songs from My Country, my students were moved by many stories like The Fish that Saved that Boy and The Girls that Married the Stars.
They laughed along with me as they learned the Southern Tutchone song about Crow and his fat wife. Marge had even provided me with the rock from Klukshu that I took to class as evidence of what happened to the wife.
Many of the students have never been farther than the New Mexico/Colorado border, but they were invited by Marge into the Yukon. Although they couldn’t meet her in person they felt her kindness in sharing her life. She is an extraordinary person and the students just wanted to show their appreciation.
Beth Laura O’Leary
Las Cruces, New Mexico