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Crafting Critical Stories

Toward Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion, and Voice


Edited By Judith Flores-Carmona and Kristen V. Luschen

Critical storytelling, a rich form of culturally relevant, critical pedagogy, has gained great urgency in a world of standardization. Crafting Critical Stories asks how social justice scholars and educators narrate, craft, and explore critical stories as a tool for culturally relevant, critical pedagogy. From the elementary to college classroom, this anthology explores how different genres of critical storytelling – oral history, digital storytelling, testimonio, and critical family history – have been used to examine structures of oppression and to illuminate counter-narratives written with and by members of marginalized communities. The book highlights the complexity of culturally relevant, social justice education as pedagogues across the fields of education, sociology, communications, ethnic studies, and history grapple with the complexities of representation, methodology, and the meaning/impact of employing critical storytelling tools in the classroom and community.
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9. Critical Storying: Power Through Survivance and Rhetorical Sovereignty


The history of American Indian education can be summarized in three simple words: battle for power. (Lomawaima, 2000, p. 2)

Educators have long used and debated the way stories illustrate and theorize power as embedded and embodied in notions of educational difference and American Indian1 students. Educational difference as it applies here is not about essentializing, i.e., all American Indian students learn “this” way. Nor is it focused on deficit, i.e., low test scores or underpreparedness. Rather, it is about acknowledging Native power despite the effects of colonization on American Indian history and despite the subsequent social, political, and educational marginalization of Native populations and knowledges. Difference, as I speak about it, alludes to American Indian tribal nations, communities, and peoples holding sovereignty, yet being set apart—placed as different—from the majoritarian U.S. nation-state.

As the introductory quote by Lomawaima (2000) suggests, American Indian education is a site of tension concerning which or whose stories hold, possess, and/or wield power, and how they do so. Brayboy (2005) attends to tension-filled battles for power in his explication of Tribal Critical Theory2 (TribalCrit). TribalCrit is related to but different from other critical theories, in that, as Brayboy argues, stories are theories, not separate from them. Stories constitute legitimate sources of data and justifiable ways of coming to know and understand that data (Brayboy, Gough, Leonard, Roehl, & Solyom, 2011). Brayboy’s notion of story as theory is not unusual; it is situated within a long tradition of Indigenous...

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