chapter  20
Thinking Through Theory: Contemplating Indigenous Situated Research and Policy
Pages 15

Cree scholar Neal McLeod introduces wîsahkêcâhk in his 2007 book Cree Narrative Memory. wîsahkêcâhk is known in Plains Cree culture as the transformer. wîsahkêcâhk stories tell of the transformer deftly moving through the terrain of Cree narrative expressing itself, then re-imagining itself, in the consciousness of the Cree as the culture re-affirms itself generation upon generation. wîsahkêcâhk invites the imaginings of those who participate in Cree society and the understandings that the transformer inspires. “With regard to wîsahkêcâhk, there are many voices and many perspectives” (McLeod, 2007, p. 99). In these stories, as McLeod states, the nature of the transformer is only limited by the imagination of those who sit spellbound in the midst of its mystery. The transformer stirs us to think, and then think again. In the immediacy of a routinely fashioned life wîsahkêcâhk waits to visit, arriving with the intentionality of the paradoxically aloof provocateur and, in doing so, stops us short. Whether prompting a jarring halt in daily ‘business as usual’ or a less startling lull, when the transformer visits we notice. wîsahkêcâhk medicine does not so much direct as offer pause to listen to what we know, consider what we do not know, and think about what it is, exactly,

that we are doing. If I were a Cree storyteller, and if this were a research story told by a fire, it would be in broaching theory talk that I would halt the flow of words, sit silent for a moment, knowing that at any moment wîsahkêcâhk will be entering the circle.