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Colonialism on the Prairies

Blackfoot Settlement and Cultural Transformation, 1870–1920

In the series
First Nations and the Colonial Encounter

Blanca Tovías received her award-winning PhD dissertation on the Blackfoot of Canada and the USA from the University of New South Wales in 2007. She has co-edited two anthologies on the history of Mesoamerica and the Andes, and authored several journal articles and book chapters. Her current research focuses on First Nations women of the Great Plains. Together with David Cahill she edited New World, First Nations ("Recommended," American Historical Review)


This book spans a century in the history of the Blackfoot First Nations of present-day Montana and Alberta. It maps out specific ways in which Blackfoot culture persisted amid the drastic transformations of colonization, with its concomitant forced assimilation in both Canada and the United States. It portrays the strategies and tactics adopted by the Blackfoot in order to navigate political, cultural and social change during the hard transition from traditional lifeways to life on reserves and reservations.

Cultural continuity is the thread that binds the four case studies presented, encompassing Blackfoot sacred beliefs and ritual; dress practices; the transmission of knowledge; and the relationship between oral stories and contemporary fiction. Blackfoot voices emerge forcefully from the extensive array of primary and secondary sources consulted, resulting in an inclusive history wherein Blackfoot and non-Blackfoot scholarship enter into dialogue. Blanca Tovías combines historical research with literary criticism, a strategy that is justified by the interrelationship between Blackfoot history and the stories from their oral tradition. Chapters devoted to examining cultural continuity discuss the ways in which oral stories continue to inspire contemporary Native American fiction.

This interdisciplinary study is a celebration of Blackfoot culture and knowledge that seeks to revalorize the past by documenting Blackfoot resistance and persistence across a wide spectrum of cultural practice. The volume is essential reading for all scholars working in the fields of Native American studies, colonial and postcolonial history, ethnology and literature.


Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-307-2
Hardback Price: £50.00 / $74.50
Release Date: March 2011
   
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-540-3
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $44.95
Release Date: October 2012
   
Page Extent / Format: 328 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No
   

 



List of Figures
Series Editor's Preface, by David Cahill
Acknowledgements

INTRODUCTION: THE THREADS OF CONTINUITY
Note on Nomenclature

THE BLACKFOOT SUN DANCE: RESISTANCE AND PERSISTENCE, 1877–1930
1 The Sun Dance: Invoking the Sacred
2 Colonial Conceits and Indictable Offenses
3 Honouring Creator Sun and Praying for Good Crops

THE GRAMMAR OF BLACKFOOT LEADERSHIP DRESS, 1830–1930
4
Dress, Sacred Stories, and Worldviews
5 Fur Trade, Success, and Dress
6 The Longevity of Buckskins

ETHNOGRAPHIC ENCOUNTERS: CULTURAL TRANSACTIONS AND TRANSLATIONS
7 Between Orality and Text: The Encounter with "Salvage" Ethnography
8 Blackfoot Genres into Written History and Literature

THE ORAL TRADITION IN CONTEMPORARY NATIVE LITERATURE
9 Hero Quests, Sun Dancing, and the Story of "Scarface"
10 The Blackfoot Hero in James Welch's Fools Crow
11 Ethics in Emma Lee Warrior's Compatriots

12 Conclusion

Appendices 1–4
References
Index


The propensity of Blackfoot elders to transmit their traditional knowledge provides a fundamental point of departure for any understanding of Blackfoot culture in all its dimensions and inflections. Other sources of information come from accounts of travellers, fur traders, agents, law enforcers, and sundry other wayfarers ... The juxtaposition of Blackfoot knowledge, diaries and memoirs, ethnological fieldwork, and governmental records, has produced a richly textured interdisciplinary history that balances narrative with thematic approaches.
From the Preface by First Nations Series Editor, David Cahill, University of New South Wales

The book’s strengths lie first in the effort to identify Blackfoot perspectives within documents written primarily by cultural outsiders and, second, in its recognition of the importance of the Scarface story in literature.
Alison Brown, University of Aberdeen, British Journal of Canadian Studies


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