Hank Snow and moving on: tradition and modernity in Kwakwaka'wakw 20th century migration.

Date

2008-08-15T15:41:52Z

Authors

Plant, Byron King

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Abstract

This thesis examines the 20th century settlement and migration history of the Kwakwaka'wakw people of Alert Bay, British Columbia. Through an examination of three key shifts in settlement and migratory patterns, it traces how Aboriginal space and movement has been reconfigured in response to changing social, economic, and cultural landscapes. Each of these three shifts—village relocations, the decline of involvement in the capitalist and traditional food economies, and growing urban migration—reveals how Kwakwaka'wakw settlements and notions of community have changed in recent times. These shifts also indicate how innovative forms of migration have developed in, around, and between aboriginal communities. In addition to documenting some of the most profound changes in Aboriginal demographics since the early catastrophic disease epidemics, this thesis is also interested in continuity and the role local culture plays in shaping settlement and migratory behaviour. Drawing on Michel De Certeau's notion of "combinatory operations," I suggest that Aboriginal people have interpreted and responded to different types of displacement through operational systems shaped by contemporary reproductions of socio-cultural traditions. The thesis argues that the people of this community have responded to displacement with behaviour reflective of both innovation and cultural continuity. Until now, most research on aboriginal people has been either community- or urban-based. However, this focus on the terminal "beginning" or "end" of migration has tended to overshadow the role migration itself has played within Aboriginal society and culture. Rather than a process of suspension occurring between two points of settlement, migration itself is a socio-cultural phenomenon, itself no less important than the settlements upon which the process is anchored and defined.

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Keywords

Kwakiutl Indians, Indians of North America, British Columbia, Alert Bay

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