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Looking for snob hill and sq’éwqel : exploring the changing histories of aboriginality and community in two aboriginal communities



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This thesis explores notions of community and Aboriginality within the histories of two Aboriginal communities: the primarily Métis town of Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan and the Stó:lõ reserve of Seabird Island, British Columbia. By “reading” community members’ oral histories in terms of these two concepts, it historicises the accounts, giving temporal context to academics’ writings and local histories that at times act as snapshots of a small span of time. Considering Île-à-la-Crosse and Seabird Island in terms of their communal and Aboriginal components also complicates definitions of community and Aboriginality or indigeneity as they relate to these two places, thereby reinforcing the links between histories and the places and people from which they originated. Thus, the first part of this thesis situates Seabird Island and Île-à-la-Crosse historically and physically, and demonstrates how local oral histories introduce broader historical themes. The second part focuses on the community aspect of these places: the Aboriginal component to both Seabird Island’s and Île-à-la-Crosse’s existence is what has tended to attract outside academic research and attention, yet an Aboriginal community exists as such because of influences that make and sustain a community as well as its Aboriginal components. While each “category” draws on understandings of the other in order to create a cohesive definition of the whole, a community does not become a community simply by being Aboriginal, nor is it Aboriginal simply as a result of Aboriginal people living together. Therefore, diverse definitions and histories of Aboriginality are also significant in maintaining historical links among inhabitants of Île-à-la-Crosse and Seabird Island. There exists a historiography in these communities that, while sometimes unintentional or implicit, links community members’ accounts of their community and its Aboriginal features with outside observations. This connection places these interpretations of historical events into a historiographical context of ways these Aboriginal communities have been both, and alternately, communities and Aboriginal places.



Saskatchewan history, British Columbia history, oral history, Stó:lõ, Métis, Aboriginal history



Master of Arts (M.A.)






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