Skip to content

Report Posted: Role of RCMP in Residential School System

The RCMP has released a major report on its role in the Canadian Residential School System. The RCMP website posts the executive summary of the report, but you must request the full pdf version of the report from the RCMP via email.

The introduction indicates that the document is a public document and that it is a part of aboriginal history:

The RCMP hopes this public document will become part of Aboriginal history and will contribute to creating public awareness for individual and group stories about life in Indian Residential Schools (page 8).

Given this statement, I have decided to upload the report and make it available here. Note: it is a 470 page report in PDF format. The file is a little larger than 4MB in size.

Sphere: Related Content

Splatsin First Nation – Douglas College Field School

My students and I will be blogging about our field school experiences at the Field School Blog between May 1 and June 23, 2011. Follow us on Twitter too (#dcfieldschool).

Sphere: Related Content

Maa-Nulth Treaty (Vancouver Island) Implemented

The First Nations comprising the Maa-Nulth Treaty Group implemented their treaty with BC and Canada. It is the second BC Treaty Process Treaty to be implemented after the Tsawwassen Treaty in 2009. Here’s a round-up of the news:

New, April 9, 2011:

Treaty opens up a world of opportunity for First Nation (Victoria Times Colonist)

Maa-nulth escapes Indian Act after signing historic treaty (APTN; with video)

Maa-nulth treaty takes away rights (


B.C. first nations celebrate self-government (Globe and Mail); note the reader comments and the pervasive public misunderstanding of treaties and aboriginal rights

We’re letting the wild coast slip away: Development debate long overdue for south Island wilderness areas (Victoria Times Colonist); debate about private property and development on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Read more:

B.C. First Nations celebrate self-government (Toronto Star)

Historic treaty will allow B.C.’s Maa-nulth First Nations to go beyond the Indian Act (The First Perspective)

Citizenship at hand for five Vancouver Island bands (Montreal Gazette)

Maa-nulth Nations expected to hit the ground running April 1 with laws in place (Alberni Valley Times)

Vancouver Island aboriginals celebrate treaty (

Sphere: Related Content

Talking Anthropology With Grade 1s

I’m back from talking with my son’s grade one class about what a cultural anthropologist is and what a cultural anthropologist does. My invitation to speak to the class came as part of a classroom unit on jobs and the tools people use to do their jobs. As many of you helped me think through how to explain what it is that I do, I thought I’d tell how it went.

The class has almost twenty energetic and enthusiastic children in it. My son introduced me by name, stated that I was an anthropologist and then asked the class to say the word. I took over and explained that I was often a teacher but that I wanted to talk more about another aspect of my job – the part in which I tried to learn about how other people lived. To start, I showed a picture of a hunter demonstrating how to clean a small animal. The kids tried to guess what kind of animal it was – and no, it was not a hedgehog. I asked about the kind of structure in which the people cleaned the game and the tools they used. We talked about the kinds of meat the students liked – noting that most of us eat and enjoy cow meat. From here, we looked at pictures of animals and talked about the process of making leather from animal skins.

On your suggestions, I took several things that kids could handle and touch. I asked for help identifying skin scraping tools, thread holders, and the materials in footwear, gloves, and packs. Man, it’s hard not to get caught up in material culture! One of the packs I have are for dogs, and the students couldn’t quite figure that out without being told. No, they weren’t for elephants. The horn of a bighorn sheep was not from a mountain lion. I had a piece of clothing used at special events and asked the students when they dressed up. I was told: halloween, parties, and halloween parties. I suppose it’s reasonable that halloween is still front of mind. The students did not ask too many questions. They were curious about the difference between what I do and what archaeologists do. They were clear with me that archaeologists dig. I had to agree.

Throughout, I referred to the people with whom I work as friends. I did not use ethnonyms or generalities like native, aboriginal, or Indian. I tried not to talk about age-inappropriate things, all the time wondering if vegan parents would be upset their kids reporting a classroom presentation on hunting, meat, and cleaning skins. I didn’t try to deliver a message directly; rather, my goal was simply to remind students that other people live differently than they do and that such differences are just fine.

This experience reminds me that it is a shame anthropology isn’t taught (in most places) in primary or secondary schools. The kids appeared to like hearing about how others lived. And the messages that are at the heart of anthropology are useful and instructive to people of any age. I’d like to work more with my son’s school to get those messages out.

(Thank you to all of you who offered helpful suggestions about how to speak to Grade 1s about anthropology via twitter, facebook, and email.)

Sphere: Related Content

Tahltan Declaration is 100 Years Old

The Tahltan people of northwestern British Columbia are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Declaration of the Tahltan Tribe. The Declaration was signed on October 18, 1910. It asserts Tahltan sovereignty over traditional lands. The Declaration calls for the settling of treaties, adequate compensation for relinquishing title, and a formalizing of relations between Tahltans and the provincial and federal governments. The document followed closely on the heels of the Declaration by Lillooet Tribes, earlier in 1910.

Congratulations and best wishes to the Tahltan people on their important anniversary.

Also: Tahltan celebrate 100th anniversay of declaration (Terrace Standard)
Tahltan People Celebrate 100th Anniversary Signing of 1910 Declaration of the Tahltan Tribe (Tahltan Central Council Press Release)

Declaration of the Tahltan Tribe (1910)

We, the undersigned members of the Tahltan tribe, speaking for ourselves, and our entire tribe, hereby make known to all whom it may concern, that we have heard of the Indian Rights movement among the Indian tribes of the Coast, and of the southern interior of B.C. Also we have read the declaration make by the chiefs of of the southern interior tribes at Spences Bridge of the 16th July last, and we hereby declare our complete agreement with the demands of the same, and wit the position taken by the said chiefs, and their people on all the questions stated in the said Declaration, and we furthermore make known that it is our desire and intention to join with them in the fight for our mutual rights, and that we will assist in the furtherance of this object in every way we can, until such time as all these matters of moment to us are finally unsettled. We further declare as follow:

Firstly – We claim the sovereign right to all the country of our tribe – this country of ours which we have held intact from the encroachments of other tribes, from time immemorial, at the cost of our own blood. We have done this because our lives depended on our country. To lose it meant we would lose our means of living, and therefore our lives. We are still as heretofore, dependant for our living on our country, and we do not intend to give away the title to any part of same without adequate compensation. We deny the B.C. government has any title or right of ownership in our country. We have never treated with them nor given them any such title. (We have only lately learned the B.C. government make this claim, and that it has for long considered as it property all the territories of the Indian tribes of B.C.)

Secondly – We desire that a part of our country, consisting of one or more large areas (to be selected by us), be retained by us for our own use, said lands, and all thereon to be acknowledged by the government as our absolute property. The rest of our tribal land we are willing to relinquish to the B.C. government for adequate compensation.

Thirdly – We wish it known that a small portion of our lands at the mouth of the Tahltan River, was set apart a few years ago by Mr. Vowell as an Indian reservation. These few acres are the only reservation made for our tribe. We may state we never applied for the reservation of this piece of land, and we had no knowledge why the government set it apart for us, nor do we know exactly yet.

Fourthly – We desire that all questions regarding our lands, hunting, fishing etc., and every matter concerning our welfare, be settled by treaty between us and the Dominion and B.C. government.

Fifthly – We are of the opinion it will be better for ourselves, also better for the governments and all concerned, if these treaties are made with us at a very early date, so all friction, and misunderstanding between us and the whites may be avoided, for we hear lately much talk of white settlement in this region, and the building of railways, etc., in the near future.
Signed at Telegraph Creek, B.C., this eighteenth day of October, Nineteen hundred and ten, by

NANOK, Chief of the Tahltans,
NASTULTA, alias Little Jackson,
And eighty other members of the tribe.

Sphere: Related Content

‘Cry Rock’: An Indigenous Perspective on Storytelling

Dear Douglas College Librarians:

I saw a wonderful film at the Vancouver International Film Festival tonight. The film is called Cry Rock and it was written, produced, and directed by Nuxalk (Coast Salish; BC Central Coast) filmmaker Banchi Hanuse. It is a story of storytelling, as Ms. Hanuse wonders if she should record for posterity the stories of her grandmother. Ms. Hanuse weaves her response to this question with Nuxalk stories told by elders and young people – leading us to the conclusion that stories are embedded in places and people. For this reason, Ms. Hanuse decides that she must live her grandmother’s stories with her grandmother; any recording would so fundamentally change the nature of the story that it wouldn’t be the same.

I’ve embedded the film’s trailer below. It comes from the production company’s website. You should know that if we were to purchase this film, our instructors would find uses for in in classes that taught the histories and cultures of indigenous peoples. It would be incredibly useful for classes on storytelling, narrative, and the nature of knowledge. It runs about 30 minutes, which is a perfect length for showing and discussing within a single class meeting.

CRY ROCK trailer | a short documentary from Smayaykila Films on Vimeo.

By the way, I understand that another film at the VIFF, Two Indians Talking, is well worth our attention too. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. But, it is by a Douglas College grad, Sara McIntyre, and seems to speak directly to contemporary concerns of indigenous peoples in Canada. I’d like the chance to show it to my students, too.

Sphere: Related Content

First Issue: Canadian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences is Live

Open access is a hot topic for academics. Recently, SavageMinds has raised questions about the ethical use of pdfs. Jason Baird Jackson has pleaded passionately (and frequently) for more open access books and journals. And, Quentin Mackie has reminded us of the utility of a great regional journal like BC Studies, which has recently open its archives.

This weekend, the Canadian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences has launched its first issue. Its arrival offers a response to calls for greater transparency in the publishing process, particularly at the levels of dissemination and peer review. The journal offers scholars in a range of disciplines a place to publish which is open access. Furthermore, it offers a place for readers to join in and augment the conversations started by the journals authors. Each article provides space for reader reviews – and the idea is that the majority of the peer review process will come from readers who identify themselves and comment publicly on the articles.

The current issue presents nine articles. The titles and authors are:

  • Delusions, by Leonard Angel
  • When Oppressions and Privileges Collide: A Review of Research in Health, Gender and Intersectionality in Late (Post) Modernity, by Daniel Grace
  • Environmental Racism and First Nations: A Call for Socially Just Public Policy Development, by Christina Dhillon and Michael G. Young
  • All Things Counter, Original, Spare, Strange: Why are We so Bad at Difference?, by Ann Dale and Lenore Newman
  • The Dilemma of Values in Social Work Education: Teaching and Learning the Contradictions between the Goals and Practices of Social Work, by Kathleen Piovesan
  • Metaphysics Masquerading as Science, by Jeremy SH Jackson
  • The Effect of Implicit Attributions towards the Environment on Environmental Decision Making, by Christopher Jennings
  • “I’m Just Kind of Land”: Finding Self in Place, by Matthew Heinz
  • Coercion as Cure: A Critical History of Psychiatry by Thomas Szasz New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers (2007); A review by John Breeding.
  • Please visit the table of contents for keywords, abstracts, and links to html and pdf versions of the papers.

    CJHSS is on Twitter @cjhssorg.

    (And, we’ve received no submissions from anthropologists. Please consider submitting your paper to the CJHSS.)

    Sphere: Related Content

    Are Ethnographies Novels?

    One of my class assignments is to ask students to provide a short review of chapters in the ethnographies they read. Students are to include the following in the reviews: 1) a concise summary of the chapter; 2) a point or two noting the relevance of the chapter to the course and/or anthropology in general; and 3) a question that the chapter raises for them and a potential answer to the question. (This question and answer should not be provided in the book.) For interest, the ethnographies I am using this semester are: John Barker’s Ancestral Lines (Maisin of Papua New Guinea), Robert Jarvenpa’s Northern Passage (Han of the Yukon and Chipewyan of Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories), Herdt’s The Sambia (The Sambia of Papua New Guinea), and Lila Abu-Lughod’s Writing Women’s Worlds (Awlad ‘Ali Bedouin of Egypt).

    Inevitably, I will receive about 10% of the reviews which refer to the ethnography under review as a novel. This is perplexing to me because, for me, the term novel implies fiction in the sense of a straightforward dichotomy of fiction and non-fiction. I’ve started wondering, however, if students are taught a very specific definition of novel in literature classes – and whether or not that definition is consistent with what they read in the ethnographies I’ve assigned. So, I turned to my English Literature colleagues and, not surprisingly, was treated to a sophisticated explanation of what a novel is and is not. In sum, there is agreement that a novel is fiction, but that the term novel is best used in conjunction with a modifier like ‘poetic novel’ or ‘comic novel.’ Further, we agree that novels, like ethnographies, include narratives but narrative is not synonymous with fiction. We are also in agreement that fiction can be ethnographic and while we didn’t discuss specifics, I offered The Wire as one example of a fictional, yet ethnographic television series.

    (I understand that fiction is a tricky term given the post-modern perspective that tells us that all ethnographic writings are fictions in the sense of being a creation of an author who makes choices about what to include and what to leave out. But that’s not really my question. I’m wondering if ethnographies are novels. Indeed, I think I’d be content if my students said their ethnography is a fiction instead of a novel.)

    What do I say to students who call ethnographies novels? What do anthropologists think novels are?

    Sphere: Related Content

    Canadian Ethnographies About Non-indigenous People?

    My request for help finding an ethnography to teach in a First Nations of British Columbia anthropology class has generated more than a dozen comments on the blog, via email and through facebook. Since I wasn’t entirely clear that I was looking for an ethnography of an indigenous group or community — but the list that was generated turns out to be exclusively about indigenous peoples — Charles Menzies raised the following question (which I’ve edited only slightly):

    Can you suggest ethnographies about British Columbia (or Canada) that focus on non-aboriginal peoples? The works should be clearly anthropological as there are certainly books by sociologists, historians, geographers, about non-aboriginal peoples. Where are the ethnographies written by anthropologists set in BC, the Yukon, or Alaska that are not about aboriginal people?

    What can you recommend?

    (And thank you to all for the very useful suggestions of BC ethnographies. The list keeps growing.)

    Sphere: Related Content

    I’m Looking for Suggestions for BC Ethnographies

    It’s that time early in the semester when I am required to submit my book requests for next semester. I will be teaching a first year course called British Columbia Native Cultures during the Winter of 2011. For years, I have required that students read Hugh Brody’s Maps and Dreams: Indians and the British Columbia Frontier. Brody’s book is wonderful. It is readable and balances nicely the first hand perspective of doing anthropology with third person accounts of British Columbia history and its impact of the lives of native people. But, based on research from the early 1980s and having been published first in 1981, it’s getting old. While that’s not always a reason to reject a book, I understand that to my 18 and 19 year old students, 1981 is a long time ago. Moreover, there have been many developments in aboriginal history and rights in BC in the past 30 years. I’d like to use an ethnography that was researched and written in the context of Delgamuukw and the BC Treaty Process.

    So, while not categorically dismissing Maps and Dreams, I am soliciting advice on a different ethnography to teach in my class. I need a book that is accessible to first year students. Many of the students who will take the class have not had any anthropology classes; many do not know much about BC geography or history. I’d like it to have been written in the past 10 years (but that’s not a deal breaker). And, what about ethnographies written by aboriginal scholars? That would be wonderful.

    Based on a few conversations with colleagues, here’s a short list of suggestions. Please make others in the comments, below. Thanks!

    Suggested Ethnographies for British Columbia Native Cultures (Anth 1120) at Douglas College

    Anderson, Margaret and Marjorie Halpin, editors. 2000. Potlatch at Gitsegukla: William Beynon’s 1945 Field Notebooks. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

    Atleo, Richard. 2004. Tsawalk: A Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview. Vancouver: UBC Press.

    Barker, John and Douglas Cole. 2003. At Home with the Bella Coola Indians: T.F. McIlwraith’s Field Letters, 1922-4.Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

    Blackman, Margaret B., with Florence Edenshaw Davidson. 1992. During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, A Haida Woman. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

    Blackstock, Michael. 2001. Faces in the Forest: First Nations Art Created on Living Trees. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.

    Boas, Franz. 1975. Kwakiutl Ethnography. Helen Codere, editor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Brody, Hugh. 1981/1988. Maps and Dreams: Indians and the British Columbia Frontier.Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre.

    Cardinal, Gil. 2003. Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole. National Film Board of Canada.

    Carlson, Keith T., Albert J. McHalsie, and Kate Blomfield. 2001. A Stó:lo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas .Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.

    Culhane Speck, Dara. 1987. An Error in Judgement: The Politics of Medical Care in an Indian-White Community.Vancouver: Talonbooks.

    Daly, Richard. 2005. Our Box was Full: An Ethnography for the Delgamuukw Plaintiffs. Vancouver: UBC Press.

    Dinwoodie, David. 2002. Reserve Memories: The Power of the Past in a Chilcotin Community.Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

    Furniss, Elizabeth. 1999. The Burden of History: Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community.Vancouver: UBC Press.

    Kramer, Jennifer. 2006. Switchbacks: Art, Ownership, and Nuxalk National Identity.Vancouver: UBC Press.

    McDonald, James A. (2003) People of the Robin: The Tsimshian of Kitsumkalum. CCI Press

    Mills, Antonia. 1994. Eagle Down Is Our Law: Witsuwit’en Law, Feasts, and Land Claims. Vancouver: UBC Press.

    Palmer, Andie. 2005. Maps of Experience: The Anchoring of Land to Story in Secwepemc Discourse.Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

    Pryce, Paula. 1999. Keeping the Lakes’ Way: Reburial and Re-creation of a Moral World among an Invisible People.Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

    Reid, Martine J. and Daisy Sewid-Smith. 2004. Paddling to Where I Stand: Agnes Alfred, Qwiqwasutinuxw Noblewoman .Vancouver: UBC Press.

    Ridington, Robin. 1988. Trail to Heaven: Knowledge and Narrative in a Northern Native Community. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

    Roth, Christopher. 2008. Becoming Tsimshian: The Social Life of Names .Seattle: University of Washington Press.

    Wa, Gisday and Delgam Uukw. 1992. The Spirit in the Land.Gabriola Island, BC: Reflections.

    I feel like the answer is on the tip of my tongue. What am I missing?

    Sphere: Related Content