George Mann was not a cowboy : rationalizing western versus Aboriginal perspectives of life and death 'dramatic' history
Long, Alan Leonard
The dramatic history of the 1885 Riel Rebellion has been revisited and reinterpreted countless times by hundreds of amateur and professional historians from all cultural backgrounds. From 1885 to the mid-twentieth century and beyond the tendency of many historians was to create melodramatic narratives, a writing style that began in various English theatrical traditions, dating back to the Middle Ages. Of particular interest to this study were the eyewitness narratives whose melodramatic style included a desire to codify and define the roles of Aboriginal people, another British tradition of defining the dark skinned ‘other’ that was debated in London theatres from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. The Canadian historical myth was created by gifted writers who captured the broader public’s imagination with their dramatic style, a hegemonic force which eclipsed many Aboriginal versions of similar historical events. One such event was the George Mann family’s dramatic “escape to Fort Pitt,” as remembered by descendants of Mann and those of Nehithawe (Wood Cree) treaty Chief Seekascootch, whose family aided the Mann family in their escape. Through a variety of methods that have included historiographical analysis, literary analysis, playwriting, microhistory, and interviews with members of both families, this paper engages an interdisciplinary approach to the academic areas of drama, history and anthropology as a means of creating a broader picture of history that is hopefully interesting and accessible to people from multiple cultural backgrounds. This project concludes that single discipline western academic narratives do not sufficiently problematize their archival sources, and often underestimate the complexity of Aboriginal epistemologies.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorDay, Moira; Carlson, Keith Thor
CommitteeWaiser, William A.; Haig Bartley, Pamela; Guedo, James