Landscapes of difference : an inquiry into the discourse of the national park and its effects on Aboriginal identity production
Drane, Karyn Tracey Dawn
The goal of this work is to identify and explore the identity producing practices of Parks Canada in creating the idea of Canadian nationalism. In producing the idea of Canadian nationalism, Aboriginality and the concept of wilderness had to be discursively placed as one in the same in Canadian consciousness. This thesis focuses on identifying the discourses which have supported the representation of the ecological Indian and the vanishing Indian. I utilize discourse analysis in order to examine both the socio-historical origins, and the contemporary supportive structures of these produced identities. Further, I look to how language and the manipulation of imagery create reality, meaning, and determines certain actions such as the claiming of Indigenous lands. I identify parallels between the process of adoption and the national park, including a discussion of the regulation and renaming of the national park as representational of the boundaries and challenges that people who are returning to their Aboriginal roots face, such as the lack of accessibility to their people, language, tradition and culture. I incorporate my own voice and experience into the work as I myself have been adopted and raised within a non-native family. For those of us who have not had the experience of growing up in a family environment that is Native, imaginary Indians as portrayed within popular culture, delve us farther away from actually coming to know what it means to be an Aboriginal person in today's world. This thesis also identifies the process through which parks regulatory practices, which have been used to 'nationalize' the parks, have reached the point where visitors have become wards of the park. This status of wardship for visitors in the park, emulates the status of Indian people as wards of the federal government. Further, the parks, in claiming ownership of the land within the national parks, have erased the contemporary presence of Aboriginal people from within its border's by denying them the right to hunt, fish, trap and gather within the park, yet it continues to use images of Indians in representing the values ofthe park.