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The Queen's People

The Queen's People: A Study of Hegemony, Coercion, and Accommodation among the Okanagan of Canada

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 333
  • Book Info
    The Queen's People
    Book Description:

    An analysis of the realities of everyday life for Okanagan Indians on a reserve near Vernon. Carstens applies the peasant model to the study of reserve systems and finds significant correlations. Questions of class, status, power, and institutionalized inequality also come into play.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6466-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrative Material
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Okanagan Nation Declaration
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Chief Murray Alexis

    I met Peter Carstens some twenty-five years ago when he made his first visit to our reserve community in the Okanagan Valley. The interest and attention he has given our community over the years, and now the publication of this book, are to be commended. Very little to date has been recorded of the life of the original inhabitants of our beautiful valley. Our presence has been somewhat reluctantly acknowledged, without full appreciation of the contribution our people made to the early settlers of the past and the continuing influence we could have for a healthier development in the future....

  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxii)
    Peter Carstens
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)

    • Chapter One Traditional Okanagan Society and Institutions
      (pp. 3-28)

      This book is concerned with three closely related themes: the historical processes whereby the Okanagan Indians of British Columbia, through no choice of their own, came to live on reserves; social life in a reserve community at the present time with reference also to relations with the outside world; and the complex effects these historical processes and confinement to a reserve have had on the lives of the Okanagan people in general.

      First it is necessary to establish an ethnographic base from which analysis can proceed, to find out what sort of lives the Okanagan led in the early nineteenth...

    • Chapter Two The Beginnings of White Hegemony
      (pp. 29-53)

      Okanagan institutions and power did not fall immediate victim to the presence of the white man west of the Rocky Mountains, but it did not take long for the balance of power to be tipped in favour of the newcomers. The white man’s cultural baggage, however, had made an impact on the Indians in the interior before his actual arrival. Guns and other trade goods, for example, passed from group to group from both the south and east, disrupting the balance of indigenous trade; certain features of European religious beliefs, not to mention European diseases such as smallpox, followed similar...

    • Chapter Three Reserving Other People’s Land
      (pp. 54-66)

      The importance of land as territory claimed by, andbelonging to,specific native peoples is sometimes unwittingly downplayed in anthropological writing about so-called hunter-gatherers by the emphasis that is placed on the importance of subsistence activities such as hunting, gathering, fishing, and trapping, rather than on the economic value of land itself (for example, Hudson 1986; Lee 1979; Murdock 1967). The Okanagan were never casual occupiers of land and in their seasonal movements they relied entirely on the understanding that they were the sole owners of their land. Moreover, their attachment to land and their jealous concern for territory were...

    • Chapter Four The O’Keefe Syndrome
      (pp. 67-86)

      There is a close relationship throughout British Columbia, especially in the southern interior, between the establishment of reserves for Indians and the acquisition of land by settlers.¹ The same could also be said of reserves elsewhere in Canada, the United States, and other colonial countries such as South Africa. The Indian Act defines a reserve as a tract or tracts of land that have been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band. The key words here are, of course, ‘set apart’ because they imply the unequal power of the Indians and those who set...

    • Chapter Five Rule by Notables
      (pp. 87-102)

      Max Weber, who was interested in the general question of domination, wrote: ‘Every domination both expresses itself and functions through administration. Every administration on the other hand, needs domination, because it is always necessary that some powers of command be in the hands of somebody. Possibly the power of command may appear in a rather innocent garb; the ruler may be regarded as their “servant” by the ruled, and he may look upon himself in that way’ (1968: 948).

      While Weber did not intend these notions to apply to reserve systems or those other ‘closed systems’ where authority originates almost...

    • Chapter Six The Process of Economic Incorporation
      (pp. 103-113)

      We have seen how the Okanagan were incorporated into the political arenas of the province of British Columbia and the dominion of Canada, not as equal partners in Confederation, but as people of special status defined by the Indian Act. Here I want to examine some of the processes of economic incorporation of the Okanagan as people of special status which took place between the 1870s and the first two decades of the twentieth century, with particular reference to changes in modes of subsistence.

      Relations of dependence in some form or other occur universally in human societies, but some groups,...

    • Chapter Seven The Political Incorporation of Chiefs and the People, 1865-1931
      (pp. 114-136)

      The enforcement of the Indian Act of 1876 effected, at least in theory, the complete political and bureaucratic incorporation of the Okanagan into Canadian society. But the full process of incorporation took a longer time, and from the point of view of many Okanagan the process has never been completed. Nor could it be, given the discriminatory nature of the Indian Act which defined Indians as separate people from other Canadians.

      The domination of the Okanagan, moreover, occurred neither in a cultural vacuum nor without intense conflict and serious protest. We have discussed the serious conflicts arising in the region...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)

    • Chapter Eight The Okanagan Reserve as Canadian Community
      (pp. 139-156)

      From many points of view it would have been desirable to have written the whole of this book in chronological sequence. However, using what I have termed a diasynchronic approach calls for conscious breaks in chronology to clarify the merging of space and time - the synchronic and the diachronic. In this chapter I attempt to reflect on the Okanagan community as it emerged through time and analyse it in terms of both the past and those socio-economic and cultural variables that emerged to transform it. The chronological narrative will be resumed later, notably in chapter 12 where I pick...

    • Chapter Nine Okanagan Factions
      (pp. 157-165)

      Much of the character of community life on the Okanagan reserve has been shaped over the years by rampant factionalism, a phenomenon that has been alluded to in several of the preceding chapters. While carrying out research I was constantly plagued by various manifestations of this factionalism, often to the point of wanting to abandon my field project altogether. Some people refused to look at me, not because I was asamma(white man), but because they felt I spent too much time with the ‘wrong’ faction. One very close friend pretended to be out of town for a week...

    • Chapter Ten Making Ends Meet in the 1950s
      (pp. 166-180)

      It has long been established and even measured¹ that Indians are, on average, poorer than other Canadians. Here my immediate concern is not so much with comparisons of that order, but rather with aspects of the domestic economy of the Okanagan Indian Reserve, especially the sources from which families actually living on the reserve obtained their income. I will also attempt to assess the degree to which families on the Okanagan reserve are dependent on the wider economy in order to make ends meet.

      The total population of the Okanagan Indian Reserve in 1954 was 639. This was made up...

    • Chapter Eleven Household Economy and the Wider Society in the 1980s
      (pp. 181-203)

      Many Okanagan would say they are materially better off today than they were in 1954. People now have more cash in their pockets, housing has improved enormously, most people now have electricity, running water, and telephones, and there are more automobiles, refrigerators, and television sets than before. However, the same could be said of the changes in the material lifestyles of all Canadians, making the notion of being ‘better off worthless’ unless it is examined in a more comprehensive context. Thus, in order to answer the question ‘Are the Okanagan band members better off than they were in past/ we...

    • Chapter Twelve The Assimilation of Chiefs, 1932-1987
      (pp. 204-221)

      In chapter 7 I presented a brief analysis of the processes involved and the techniques used by the Department of Indian Affairs to incorporate chiefs into the reserve system during the last thirty-five years of the nineteenth century and the first thirty years of the twentieth. Here I will continue that political history, using again the profiles of later chiefs to illustrate the transition of Okanagan political representation in the modern world.

      Formal band politics after the First World War until the early 1930s were at a low ebb, a trend that worsened after an amendment to the Indian Act...

    • Chapter Thirteen Band Government, Administration, and Politics
      (pp. 222-238)

      The Okanagan, like other Indian bands in contemporary Canada, are subject to the exclusive legislative authority of the federal government by virtue of section 91(24) of the British North America Act. As we have seen, the charter which made this condition possible was the Indian Act, section 18(1) of which states: ‘Subject to this Act, reserves are held by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of the respective bands for which they have been set apart; and subject to this Act and to the terms of any surrender, the Governor in Council may determine whether any purpose for which...

    • Chapter Fourteen Band Council Affairs
      (pp. 239-256)

      The powers and duties of council are defined by the Indian Act but the manner in which they are executed is not clearly fixed, and band members are able to negotiate with council over a variety of issues. Similarly, council members have a certain degree of choice in deciding how they will present themselves to the public, especially those who elected them to office. In order to bring the operation of band council to life, and to reflect on some of the changes that have occurred over the past twenty-five years, I will examine some of the trends in band...

    • Chapter Fifteen Why Education?
      (pp. 257-262)

      As in many other parts of the world, literacy and education in the western sense were introduced to the Okanagan by missionaries. Here I am concerned only with education in the schools on the reserve as these were established by the Department of Indian Affairs after the turn of the century, and with subsequent trends in local education, especially the personal advantages associated with school achievement.¹

      The first proper school was built in 1922-3 at Six Mile Creek. Students were admitted in February 1923, fourteen in all, coming mainly from two prominent Six Mile Creek families (Louis and Marchand). An...

    • Chapter Sixteen Reserve Catholicism
      (pp. 263-268)

      I provided a very brief account of the work of early Jesuit and Oblate missionaries in chapter 2. Here I want to touch equally briefly on the structural nature of the Catholic church itself at the present time. There are two churches on the reserve, St Benedict’s at the Head of the Lake and St Theresa’s at Six Mile Creek. There is no resident priest and no local formal organization which can be identified with the churches. Church attendance has declined so dramatically over the past twenty-five years that one is scarcely aware that every Sunday at noon (and occasionally...


    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • Chapter Seventeen The Queen’s People: An Anthropologist’s View
      (pp. 271-290)

      When the fur trade got under way early in the nineteenth century the Okanagan were well established in what is now the interior of British Columbia. While the ‘partners in furs’ scenario has romantic appeal for liberal academics, the Okanagan could hardly be said to have benefited in the long run from their association with fur trade companies. Most people were seriously inconvenienced by the Hudson’s Bay Company presence although a few political leaders made a good personal investment and obtained considerable material rewards by ingratiating themselves with company officials and representatives of the British crown. For example, Nkwala became...

  11. Appendices
    (pp. 291-304)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-322)
  13. Index
    (pp. 323-333)