Learning with Syeyutsus Speaker Series

Oral traditions are at the heart of Indigenous societies and in some instances provide crucial information regarding rights to land, water, and fishing/hunting. The Canadian Supreme Court has said that oral history has the same footing as written history but the Crown has consistently disputed oral history as evidence in court. In this talk, based on my book, Oral History on Trial: Recognizing Aboriginal Narratives in the Courts, I will describe what distinguished oral historians have taught me about their work and how I have used this information to dispute Crown critiques of oral history evidence both in court and in writing. First Nations have continued in their efforts to reframe their place in Canada through litigation (and other means) and I consider successful uses of oral history evidence.

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Oral Histories on Trial

by Bruce Granville Miller

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About the Author

Bruce Granville Miller is a Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at UBC. Much of his ethnographic work has been with the Coast Salish of BC and Washington State and he’s served on a number of occasions as an expert witness in Indigenous litigation: United States v Washington (a treaty case) and, the Radek case before the BC Human Rights Tribunal, (a precedent-setting case regarding Aboriginal presence in public spaces and racial profiling). He serves as a member of the board of the Museum of Vancouver and chair of the collections committee, which initiated a progressive program of repatriation to First Nations.

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