Dartmouth Student, JoRee LaFrance ’17, Seeks to Preserve Oral Storytelling Through Collaborative Preservation

Dartmouth student, JoRee LaFrance '17 (Crow), was recently one of the ten 2016 Dreamstarter award recipients of $10,000 to further a dream to promote arts and culture among their tribes and Indian Country. Profiled on the Dartmouth website, LaFrance hopes to use her award to preserve indigenous oral storytelling and create a children's book as a prototype of a larger system of preservation:

LaFrance wants to bring this about by finding new ways to preserve Native American oral tradition. She’s planning to bring tribal elders into schools on her reservation, where they will tell stories, recorded by teachers. As they listen, students will illustrate the stories—by hand, in the elementary school, and, in the high school, using computer software.

“This is how we will create books,” La France says. “I am developing a step-by-step composing process that any student could follow.” To set an example, she will compile stories she’s been collecting from Crow elders, including her grandmother.

“That’s always been my dream,” she says, “to write a book like this for children.”

Businesses like Book in a Box have created similar methods to capture a book out of dictation for business men and women too busy to write their own book but have overflowing ideas. LaFrance's method will have a huge impact on cultural preservation for the Crow and other indigenous groups across the Americas.