Elder Vi Hilbert


Lady Louse Cleans her House

Elder Vi Hilbert


How better to think about Indigenous Storywork than by using a story. Here is the story of Lady Louse, a story that was often told by Vi Hilbert, an Elder of the Upper Skagit tribe of the Puget Salish in Washington State. In the following video the story is being told by Q’um Q’um Xiiem, Dr. Jo-ann Archibald. Keeping with cultural practices Jo-ann always starts a story by indicating the origins of the story such as the storyteller and identifying the Indigenous culture and geographical area.

The video of the Lady Louse story (below) should be recognized as having two parts. The first part, the storytelling, finishes at 2 minutes 48 seconds. In the second part (after 2:48) Jo-ann gives an example of an interpretation of the story (just one of many possible interpretations).

If Jo-ann was using the story in a teaching setting her practice would be to stop at 2:48 and ask her students/listeners to think about their own interpretations and to share them with others. In other words, there would be the opportunity for reflection and imagination rather than listening only to the interpretation of the storyteller.

If you would like to “participate” in Jo-ann’s session, pause the video after 2:48, and reflect on you own interpretation of the story before listening to the final part of the video..

With this story as an example of Indigenous Storywork you might pause and think about “lessons” (or understandings) and notice that lessons can be of two types. First, there are the lesson(s) suggested by the specific story. In this case the lessons we might learn from Lady Louse. And second, there are the lessons/skills being implied by the approach used by the storyteller. In this case the lessons about cultural practices that can be learned from the way Jo-ann tells the story.