Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Wakeham, Pauline


This dissertation reads the spaces of connection, overlap, and distinction between nêhiyaw (Cree) poetics and the concepts of revitalization, repatriation, and resurgence that have risen to prominence in Indigenous studies. Engaging revitalization, resurgence, and repatriation alongside the creative work of nêhiyaw and Métis writers (Louise Bernice Halfe, Neal McLeod, and Gregory Scofield), this dissertation explores how creative, literary applications of nêhiyawêwin (Cree language) model an approach to Indigenous language revitalization that is consonant with nêhiyaw understandings of embodiment, storytelling, memory, kinship, and home. Broadly, I argue that Halfe’s, McLeod’s, and Scofield’s creative practices encourage the ongoing use, valuing, and teaching of Indigenous languages in ways that are commensurate with the philosophies and modes of living that are central to the languages themselves. This dissertation puts literary studies into conversation with socio-linguistic, socio-legal, and socio-political/activist paradigms that affirm Indigenous peoples’ rights to develop, use, and teach their cultural traditions, practices, and languages. Through a focused study of the creative work of nêhiyaw poet Louise Bernice Halfe (Sky Dancer), Métis storyteller Gregory Scofield, and nêhiyaw poet, painter, and scholar Neal McLeod, this dissertation attends to how creative writers include nêhiyawêwin and reflect nêhiyaw ways of being, holding relationships, and relating to land through poetry. The body chapters provide genealogical accounts of their respective frameworks, which analyze the invocation of revitalization, repatriation, and resurgence in discourses pertaining to sociology, anthropology, law, policy, activism, and literary criticism since the middle of the twentieth century. Pairing these genealogies with attention to nêhiyaw and Métis creative writers’ strategic uses of nêhiyawêwin to articulate nêhiyaw- and Métis-specific modes of language use and relationality, this dissertation highlights the complex circulation of creative writing alongside Indigenous Peoples’ efforts to use, learn, and teach their languages.