Stewards of the Earth : Aboriginal peoples, environmentalists, and historical representation
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Throughout the last few centuries, many of the conflicts between Indigenous peoples and newcomers have been struggles over environmental control. During the rise of conservationism in the latter nineteenth century and the concomitant setting aside of lands as parks or game preserves, this pattern of conflict continued, and it has done so through the recent environmental movement from the 1960s to the present. This dissertation explores the relationships between environmentalists (broadly defined to include anyone on the “Green” spectrum, from conservationist to deep ecologist) and Indigenous peoples in Western North America. It finds that discourses of Indigenous identity, especially that of the Ecological Indian, and their intersection with expressions of environmentalism, particularly realized through the creation of parks and protected areas, has simultaneously empowered and disempowered Indigenous peoples as well as led to ecological change over time. Marshal Sahlin’s structure-event model is used to frame this research, which unpacks the varied historical roots wherein current environmentalist-Aboriginal relationships mutually grow or compete for power. Theoretically, this dissertation draws extensively upon subaltern studies and post-colonial theory, especially the concepts of ambivalence, mimicry, and mockery, and introduces the theory of “post-environmentalism.” Utilized in conjunction, these tools allow one to move beyond the binaries of inclusion/exclusion and complicity/resistance that typifies Native-newcomer historiography, especially concerning parks and protected areas. Since the creation of parks and protected areas has been central to the environmentalist cause, this dissertation focuses on a number of case studies where parks are a defining feature. It does so, moreover, by utilizing various subfields within the discipline of History – these being social, environmental and ethnohistory – to illuminate different aspects of similar structures and events. Beginning with Rocky Mountains (Banff) National Park, it uses a social history approach to show how examining issues of race, class, and gender reveals a complicated history of Stoney Nakoda, national park and early conservationist interactions. It then applies an environmental history approach focussing on actual and perceived ecological change in the rise of bureaucratic, scientific, environmental management in the Olympic Peninsula, as well as Native American experiences with Olympic National Park (ONP). Finally, ethnohistorical methods focusing on issues of cultural expression explore the Sliammon (Tla’amin) First Nation’s complex relationship with BC Parks, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and regional conservationist and environmentalist groups, as well as the influence of environmentalism on Sliammon culture.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorCarlson, Keith T.
CommitteeMiller, James R.; Cunfer, Geoff; Waiser, William (Bill) A.; Bidwell (Fagan), Kristina; Welch, John
Copyright DateOctober 2012
parks and protected areas