Captain death strikes again: tuberculosis and the Stó:lõ 1871-1907
Tuberculosis has cast a long shadow on the history of Native-Newcomers relations in the Pacific Northwest. Malicious and deadly, it has dramatically affected the lives of thousands of Aboriginal people and become a permanent part of life in Stó:lõ communities. However, its history, especially the period 1871-1907, has been underrepresented in historical scholarship. Due to perceived scarcity of available quantitative information, scholars in general have paid little attention to tuberculosis, focusing instead on the early contact period, the sanatorium period that began in British Columbia in 1907, or on another disease altogether, usually smallpox. Moreover, when tuberculosis has been studied, it has been approached as a disease within a western bio-medical perspective. In contrast to much of this historiography, this thesis examines tuberculosis more holistically as an illness best understood culturally, as it has been experienced by communities as well as by the individual. Through story and song as well as a thorough reading of familiar government records under a different lens, this thesis engages the perceptions and understandings of both Aboriginal people and Euro-Canadians, patients and government agents, to produce a more balanced, meaningful, and culturally reflexive understanding of the history of tuberculosis. Following a historiographical discussion in the introduction, chapter two explores Stó:lõ oral archival sources to engage Stó:lõ people’s perspective of tuberculosis and illness. These stories and songs, generated by Stó:lõ people themselves, demonstrate the profound influence that tuberculosis has had on Stó:lõ communities throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century. With this new framework in mind, chapter three re-examines the historical record and specifically government documents created by the Department of Indian Affairs and other preceding agencies. This more holistic interpretation of tuberculosis reveals that rather than alleviating the severity and prevalence of tuberculosis in Stó:lõ communities, certain DIA initiatives likely exasperated its affects. By thus addressing the historiographical gap in tuberculosis literature and by generating a more meaningful, balanced, and culturally reflexive analysis of the history of tuberculosis among the Stó:lõ, this thesis contributes to Canadian medical history, the history of Native-Newcomer relations, and the history of the Stó:lõ people.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMiller, Jim; Fairbairn, Brett; Hackett, Paul
Copyright DateSeptember 2010