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|Title:||Indians of the Eastern Canadian Parklands: An Economic Ethnohistory, 1800-1930|
|Keywords:||Indians of Eastern Canada;Ethnohistory 1800-1930|
|Abstract:||This thesis traces changes in economic livelihood among Canadian Parkland Indians during 1800-1930, primarily to analyze the Indians' transition from a relative economic independence to membership in an economically disadvantaged population sector. Concepts of opportunity and constraint are utilized. The growth of settlement in Western Canada in the nineteenth century generated novel economic opportunities for Indians; however, constraints were also imposed, and these gathered strength in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Indians are seen in this study as economic agents, who took an active role in seizing opportunities and responding to constraints. It is suggested this approach contrasts with many which assume post-contact Indian peoples to be relatively passive objects of Euro-Canadian or Euro-American action. Economic opportunities discussed are those associated, successively, with equestrian living and bison-hunting on the Plains; the growth of the transport trade, the pemmican trade; adoption of Christianity and aspects of Western civilization; subsistence and commercial agriculture; and, more recently, wage labour. A primary constraint developed out of government policy. A special body of legislation had been created for Indians, and after 1879 a new policy was implemented in the West to exert comprehensive control over numerous sectors of Indian life. It affected livelihood by discouraging economic enterprise and imposing difficulties in obtaining financial credit. It also drastically reduced the scope for initiative on the part of native leaders. When Indians left their home reserves in later years to seek wage labour, their lack of skills and inability to remedy social disadvantages trapped them in a poorly-paid employment. A "culture of poverty" explanation, emphasizing Indians as 'patients', has frequently been advanced to explain Indian poverty. In this study that approach is criticized. It is argued that Indian poverty developed not through failure of Indians to adjust to the growth of settlement. Rather it was a consequence of constraints imposed upon them by (a) government policy and (b) impediments to social mobility. The study has utilized both archival and field data. Archival research was carried out in Winnipeg and Ottawa, and field research at Indian reserves in the eastern Parklands.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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