Legend and landscape: convergence of oral and scientific traditions with special reference to the Yukon territory, Canada
Cruikshank, Julia M.
University of Cambridge
Scott Polar Research Institute
Diploma in Polar Studies
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Cruikshank, J. M. (1980). Legend and landscape: convergence of oral and scientific traditions with special reference to the Yukon territory, Canada (Masters thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.12841
The paper examines two distinct intellectual traditions in the north, Native oral tradition and western scientif~c research. It begins by discussing my own anthropological field research in the southern Yukon Territory, Canada, the present interest of natural scientists in oral tradition, and the cultural context within which the narratives should be viewed. It then looks at oral tradition and western science as contrasting theoretical frameworks and discusses the strengths and limitations of each. With this background, examples of 'convergence' of the two traditions in the southern Yukon are discussed. Oral traditions about glacier movement and impounded lakes, climatic fluctuations, geography and geology, fauna and flora, and prehistory are compared with present day scientific research about the same phenomena. Scientific interest in oral narrative elsewhere in the circum~ polar north is summarized. The suggestion emerges that in combination the two approaches can provide a broader perspective on the natural environment than can either by itself, particularly if lin guistic categories used by Native speakers can be corr elated with scientific knowled ge of the same phenomena. Oral history and lin guistic research may have a con~ribution to make to an 'anthropology of natural history'. Oral tradition must be seen as a distinctive intellectual tradition, not simply as an adjunct to western science.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.12841