Angela Sidney

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Angela Sidney
BornCh'óonehte' Ma
Angela Johns
January 4, 1902
near Carcross
DiedJuly 17, 1991
OccupationStoryteller, author
NationalityYukon First Nations
Period20th century
GenreNative culture
SubjectFolklore, traditions, place names
Notable awardsOrder of Canada
SpouseGeorge Sidney,
ChildrenIda Calmegane and 6 other children
RelativesSkookum Jim
Kate Carmack
Dawson Charlie

Angela Sidney, CM (January 4, 1902 – July 17, 1991) was a Tagish storyteller. She co-authored two narratives of traditional Tagish legends and a historical document of Tagish place names for southern Yukon. For her linguistics and ethnography contributions, Sidney received the Order of Canada,[1][2][3] becoming the first Native woman from the Yukon to be so honoured.[4]

"Well, I have no money to leave for my grandchildren. My stories are my wealth!" [5]



Sidney was born near Carcross in 1902. She was given two names at birth, Ch'óonehte' Ma (in Tagish), Stóow (in Tlingit), and a third, Angela, by her godfather, when she was two weeks old.[6]

Her mother, Maria John (or Maria Tagish) (born ca. 1871), was of Tlingit Deisheetaan (Crow) clan ancestry.[4] Her father, Tagish John (born ca. 1856), was Tagish Dakhl'awedi.[7][8] Maria was left weak after epidemics killed the family's first four children.[6] A brother, Johnny, and a sister, Alice Dora, were Sidney's siblings from the couple's second family. Because her mother was not well, Sidney, eldest daughter, spent much of her time assisting her mother and listening to her stories.[4] However, Sidney did receive some schooling in Carcross at the Anglican mission school prior to age ten.

Her father's cousins, Skookum Jim, Kate Carmack and Dawson Charlie, were credited with making the gold discovery that led to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896.


At age 14, Sidney married George Sidney (ca. 1888 - 1971).[9] They had seven children, four of whom died young. George worked seasonally for White Pass and Yukon Route railroad,[6] he later became chief at Carcross.[3]

Sidney loved to listen to her parents' stories, and those of her relatives. To ensure that the dances, language, stories, and traditions of her people were recorded for future generations, Sidney started teaching Tagish traditions to schoolchildren. She assisted linguists Victor Golla, Jeff Leer and John Ritter and anthropologists Catharine McClellan and Julie Cruikshank with their research on Tagish language and traditions to ensure the Tagish language would not be lost.[3] In teaching the craft of storytelling to her niece, Louise Profeit-LeBlanc, Sidney emphasized the need to be cognizant of the needs of the audience, preface the telling with a prayer, and seek forgiveness before offense is taken.[10]

Sidney died in 1991. She was survived by a daughter, Ida Calmegane.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected stories[edit]

  • Getting married[3]
  • The stolen woman[3]
  • How people got flint[6]
  • The old woman under the world[6]
  • Moldy head[6]
  • Fox helper[6]
  • Wolf story[6]
  • Potlatch story[6]

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Sydney, Angela (1980). Place-names of the Tagish region, southern Yukon. Whitehorse: Yukon Native Language Centre. OCLC 22812216.
  • ——; Cruikshank, J. (1983). Haa Shagóon = Our family history. Whitehorse: Yukon Native Languages Project. OCLC 21441642.
  • ——; Cruikshank, J. (1982). Tagish tlaagú = Tagish stories. Whitehorse, Yukon: Council for Yukon Indians and the Gov't. of Yukon. OCLC 29444896.
  • ——; Smith, K.; Dawson, R.; Cruikshank, J.; McCallum, S. B. (1977). My stories are my wealth. Whitehorse: Council for Yukon Indians. OCLC 7434511.


  1. ^ Order of Canada citation
  2. ^ "Ch'ooneta Ma Stoow". Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ruppert, J.; Bernet, J.W. (2001). Our Voices: Native Stories of Alaska and the Yukon. 0803289847: U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-8984-7.
  4. ^ a b c Petten, Cheryl. "Footprints: Angela Sidney: Preserving the culture, a personal endeavor". Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  5. ^ Cruikshank, Julie (2000). The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon. UBC Press. pp. xi. ISBN 0-7748-0649-4.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cruikshank, J. (1990). Life lived like a story: life stories of three Yukon native elders: American Indian lives. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1447-2.
  7. ^ Carcross Community School. "Clan Histories". Archived from the original on 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  8. ^ Bellefeuille (transcriber), Sandi (1911). "1911 Census of Canada". Retrieved 2008-06-08.
  9. ^ Austin, Alvyn; Scott,J.S. (2005). Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples: Representing Religion. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 59. ISBN 0-8020-3784-4.
  10. ^ Profeit-LeBlanc, Louise. "Stories Have Their Way With Us: Whatever the medium, ancestral voices reach out to the listener". Horizon. 17. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  11. ^ "Angela Sidney, C.M." 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2008-06-08.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "History". Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09.