In his 1972 court appearance, (James Bay Cree vs. James Bay Energy Corporation), François Mianscum was asked to swear on the Bible to “tell the truth”. The Cree hunter had been summoned to account for his “way of life” and speak about the impact of massive development on his traditional hunting ground by the construction of hydroelectric dams. After contemplation and deliberation of a seemingly routine court request his translator responded, “He does not know whether he can tell the truth. He can only tell what he knows.” (Richardson, 1975, P. 46) Cited widely through Clifford's (1986) inclusion of “the story” for its importance, how can his words guide researchers' approach to “honesty” in qualitative inquiry? This paper turns to the significant members of Mianscum's life to ask how they interpret his statement and what messages can be gained from it while carrying out research in both the indigenous and non-indigenous context.
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