A war of wor(l)ds : Aboriginal writing in Canada during the 'dark days' of the early twentieth century
From the late fifteenth century onward the new world has been described, imagined, and created via the written word and the printing press. Europeans and Euro-North Americans laid claim to the new world through print culture, both politically (through written treaties and legislation) and culturally (through popular fiction and non-fiction), creating and defining popular and widespread notions of land ownership and cultural otherness. This thesis examines, from an historical-cultural point-of-view, the efforts of five early twentieth century Aboriginal writers in Canada, Charles A. Cooke, Edward Ahenakew, Bernice Loft Winslow, Andrew Paull, and Ethel Brant Monture. These individuals were writing in the period after 1915 (the death of E. Pauline Johnson) and before 1960 (roughly when the modern cultural renaissance of Aboriginal peoples in Canada began), and each used print and literary endeavour as a means of writing-back to the widespread stereotypes about Aboriginal peoples and land ownership which permeated non-Aboriginal writing about Indians in this era. The period between 1915 and 1960 has been described by previous scholars as having been void of Aboriginal literary production, but this thesis shows that some Aboriginal peoples used print and publishing, for perhaps the first time, to communicate with other Aboriginal peoples provincially, nationally, and in some cases, internationally. Writing and print were used as a kind of “call-to-arms” in the early twentieth century by the Aboriginal writers discussed in this work, and their efforts demonstrate that there has been a continuum of Aboriginal writing in Canada from the early nineteenth century through to contemporary times. Through the adoption and careful articulation of western print culture, Aboriginal peoples have made efforts at laying claim and asserting control over the cultural and political literary (mis)representations of Indians in Canada.
Print Culture, Literacy, Canada, Aboriginal People
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)