Negotiated Identities: A History of Sharing and Indigenous-Settler Relations in Western Canada, 1800-1970
This dissertation is an analysis of sharing in the history of western Canada and Indigenous-Settler relations from 1800 to 1970. Based on original research conducted with two Indigenous groups – the Stó:lō Nation of British Columbia’s Fraser River Valley and Metis communities of northwest Saskatchewan – it documents the significance of sharing to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations at the turn of the eighteenth century as well as the role it played in mediating cross cultural interactions following sustained contact in the nineteenth century. Using ethnohistorical methods, I argue that sharing has been a defining feature of Native and Newcomer lives and collective identities. In Indigenous communities it insulated family groups from environmental variability while affirming kin-based social networks. Among non-Indigenous people, sharing provided the basis for imagined communities of individuals connected by religion, occupation, and other non-kin characteristics. In situations of cross-cultural interaction, sharing provided an important lens through which Natives and Newcomers viewed themselves and each other. Indigenous people have viewed sharing as the “Indian way,” a defining feature of Indigeneity in western Canada and elsewhere. Non-Indigenous people, on the other hand, have viewed Indigenous peoples’ dependence on welfare and other government transfer payments – recent examples of sharing – as evidence of cultural difference and, often, inferiority. Sharing thus provides a window into Native and Newcomer worldviews and socio-cultural structures as well as relations forged between and among them. This history of sharing illuminates subtle, critically important events and processes in the history of Indigenous-Settler relations and the transformation of Indigenous North America into Canada.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorCarlson, Keith T.
CommitteeMiller, James R.; Handy, James; Waldram, James B.
Copyright DateMarch 2015