Facing Our History – The North American Gael

A’ dèiligeadh le ar n-eachdraidh

Gàidheal Ameireagaidh a Tuath

Facing Our History – The North American Gael examines the role of the Highlander, the Scottish Gael, in the colonial and post-colonial history of North America, and how colonialism impacted the Scottish Gael.  Sgoil Gàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir co-founders, Scott Morrison and Rick Gwynallen will be interviewing Scottish Gaelic and Indigenous academics, leaders, and activists in North America to educate ourselves on our own history, and to use that fresh perspective to shape a path forward today. As we do so, we will explore the challenges and opportunities facing the Gaelic language and culture today, and you will meet some of the people making a difference today. Each program will be in the medium of English to reach the widest audience, but will have some Gaelic woven into the program – a taste of Gaelic if you will. You will also find in these pages reviews of books and other material relevant to our subject and other resources

As we begin this journey together, we confront a wide range of questions: How did English colonialism and imperialism re-shape the Gaelic world?  How did that same colonialism result in us being here in North America? How did it re-shape Gaelic psychology and identity? How did it condition our relationships with Indigenous peoples as well as other non-Indigenous populations?  How did it shape the relationship of the Gaelic communities to the institution of slavery and the Black experience? How did the Gael fit into the racial-ethnic hegemony that resulted from the development of modernity and capitalism upon that foundation of colonialism? How did a people victimized by colonialism and capitalism become participants in or beneficiaries of those same systems? What have been the consequences of that process?  How can the Gaelic tradition contribute to a different and just future? 

The Indigenous activist John Trudell once said:  “We must become of a resistance consciousness. We must say that, “We will not allow you to smash us, even if it means that we have to deal with that part of you that you planted in me . . . “ Part of this process is learning and part is unlearning, dealing with how oppression and colonialism planted its culture in us, and stripping that away.

There is an assumption at the foundation of this project: That if we better understand our own Scottish Gaelic history and our own experience of oppression and colonization, and the responses of our ancestors to those conditions, we can not only revitalize our own language and culture but be better allies with those who suffered from the same process.  

This area of study is critically important to understanding the current culture of the Gael, how it got to be in such a precarious place through the lens of history, and what kinds of obstacles the Gaels, everywhere in the world, have had and continue to face in order to keep their culture alive.  We, as learners, play a critical role in that struggle and it is imperative that we understand our place within it.

Scott Morrison, Sgoil Gàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir Co-founder and Head Teacher
Map of Nova Scotia made in 1755 by provincial chief surveyor Charles Morris 

Next Event: History Matters: Especially the Difficult Parts

In this unique conversation, we examine the Nova Scotia Gàidhealtachd, its historical, environmental, and cultural impact on the region, and their efforts to redress relationships with Indigenous nations.  Join us for this online conversation as we welcome Òmar Bhochanan, Gàidhlig teacher and activist from Cape Breton.

The Episodes: Facing Our History Podcast

Each episode in the online series will be released as a podcast. We hope that you will join us for our current program, Culloden, Colonialism, and Capitalism, as well as enjoy the other podcast releases. Supporters of Facing Our History through Patreon will have access to additional podcast releases and invitations to additional discussions.

Book Reviews – Current Review

We review books, academic papers, and other media pertinent to our core subject of exploring the Scottish Gaelic experience of colonization and settlement in North America, and addressing contemporary issues resulting from that process. We do so in a desire to better understand our own history and how the Gaelic tradition can contribute to a different and just future.

Currently under review is Seanchaidh na Coille | Memory-Keeper of the Forest, edited by Dr. Michael Newton. This bi-lingual anthology of Scottish Gaelic literature of Canada spans the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, and brings to light the Canadian experience of the immigrant Scottish Gaels in their own words

Meet Your Hosts

Scott Morrison and Richard Gwynallen are the co-founders of Sgoil Gàidhlig Bhaile an Taigh Mhóir. 

Scott is Head Teacher of the school. He has been studying Gaelic for over 18 years. Scott has a long professional history as a teacher and musician.

Richard is the school administrator.  He began his Gaelic language learning with Scott Morrison in Liam Flynn’s Ale House on North Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. Richard’s professional background lies in non-profit management, and issue and community organizing.


Resources
Articles & Papers – Books – Videos – Organizations

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