Movements Used in Storytelling: Indigenous Perspectives for Motor Learning


Within motor learning, there is limited literature from the perspective of Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. The purpose of this ongoing research journey is to explore the role of movement within the oral traditions of Indigenous storytelling. In the present study, five Elders and Knowledge Keepers from communities in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia participated in three sharing circles. Discussion focused on the relationship between learning movement-related skills and storytelling. The data was then analyzed using a modified approach to Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis methodology. The findings revealed teachings and ideas focused on the ways the storyteller moves to tell a story. Strategies focused on fine and gross motor skills, including the use of facial expressions, hand movements, and body movements. Participants identified that face and hand movements are used to facilitate guided discovery in story-listeners (e.g., to describe actions in stories that are not demonstrated). Participants also explained that storytellers and story-listeners use body movements to promote retention and intrinsic motivation (e.g., to create a motivating and engaging environment). A strength-based approach was also emphasized when using movements as a learning strategy. Indigenous knowledge systems are built upon relationships; thus, the reflexivity between movement used to tell stories and story-listeners providing feedback on the effectiveness of the storyteller’s movements may be a central aspect of motor learning from an Indigenous lens. Story is foundational to most Indigenous traditions and acknowledging its role within motor learning pedagogy is an important area for growth in the field.