I Live in a Place That a River Runs Through: Localized Literacy, Currere, and a Summer in an Ojibway Community

Jesse Keith Butler


In this paper, I analyze a particular artifact from my lived curriculum – a short children’s book I wrote while running a literacy program in an Ojibway community. In doing this, I draw upon Ng-A-Fook’s (2011) (re)imagining of currere as specific experiential snapshots that open up into wider landscapes of meaning. After situating the book within my own lived experience, I unlock some of the meanings contained in it by analyzing it through three different theoretical lenses. I first examine the book in relation to research on place-based literacy (e.g. Kulnieks, Longboat, & Young, 2010), and suggest the value of such a localized approach to literacy education. Secondly, in relation to the scholarship on settler colonialism (e.g. Tuck & Gaztambide-Fernández, 2013), I question whether my choice as an outsider to write a work of “literature” incorporating aspects of local intergenerational knowledges should be seen an act of appropriation. Thirdly, I draw on literature arguing for the development of ethical intercultural meeting places (e.g. Haig-Brown, 2008) in order to suggest that this artifact is best understood as a record of my gradual development as an educator and a researcher. I suggest that currere is not just a way for teachers to become “amateur intellectuals” (Kanu & Glor, 2006), but also a way for researchers like such as myself to become “amateur practitioners,” by learning to situate our experience within the skilled practices of a curriculum of place (Chambers, 2008).


curriculum studies; currere; Indigenous education; literacy; place-based education; settler colonialism

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