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Spirits of the Rockies

Spirits of the Rockies: Reasserting an Indigenous Presence in Banff National Park

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Spirits of the Rockies
    Book Description:

    The Banff-Bow Valley in western Alberta is the heart of spiritual and economic life for the Nakoda peoples. While they were displaced from the region by the reserve system and the creation of Canada's first national park, in the twentieth century the Nakoda reasserted their presence in the valley through involvement in regional tourism economies and the Banff Indian Days sporting festivals.

    Drawing on extensive oral testimony from the Nakoda, supplemented by detailed analysis of archival and visual records,Spirits of the Rockiesis a sophisticated account of the situation that these Indigenous communities encountered when they were denied access to the Banff National Park. Courtney W. Mason examines the power relations and racial discourses that dominated the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and shows how the Nakoda strategically used the Banff Indian Days festivals to gain access to sacred lands and respond to colonial policies designed to repress their cultures.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1991-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Colour Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    The Bow Valley and Bow River, called Mînî Thnî Wapta or Cold Water River, has been the traditional spiritual centre of the Nakoda People since time immemorial. As the giver of life, the river provides us with traditional foods, medicinal plants, shelter, animals to hunt, as well as sacred areas and vision quest sites. Indeed, the river forms the centre of our culture, our economy, our families, and our way of living off the land. According to Nakoda elders, the location of the Banff Indian Days is called Mînî hrpa (waterfalls). The Nakoda camped at the foot of Cascade Mountain,...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    A number of years ago, I sat listening to the life history of elder Roland Rollinmud in the Chief Chiniki Restaurant on the Nakoda reserve in Morley, Alberta. During what was our second meeting, he told me that as a storyteller you should convey your personal experiences, as any listener needs to hear a bit about your life in order to understand where the story comes from and why the telling of it may be of importance.¹ For him, the contexts that frame the life of a storyteller were as essential as the details of any narrative that could be...

  7. Chapter One Theorizing Power Relations in Colonial Histories
    (pp. 13-21)

    Following from Hall’s contention that theory is always a detour on the way to something more important (1997), this research relies on social theory to interpret larger systems of power relations that impacted the experiences of Indigenous peoples. This book is especially indebted to the works of French philosopher, sociologist, and historian Michel Foucault. While I also rely on various other theoretical tools from post-structuralist and postcolonial thought,¹ Foucault’s works provide a foundational framework that shapes numerous aspects of this research. Over the last decade, I have become increasingly interested in Foucault’s critical studies of social institutions. Most notably, his...

  8. Chapter Two Colonial Encounters: Treaty 7, Missionaries, and the Constraints of the Reserve System
    (pp. 22-48)

    Beginning with the arrival of Europeans to the Banff–Bow Valley in the late eighteenth century, Indigenous peoples began to undergo a series of significant changes that would alter aspects of a well-established way of life that had persisted for millennia. Through the landmark 1877 Treaty 7 Agreement that established the reserve system and missionary movements, a disciplinary power regime emerged that had subsequent consequences for Nakoda communities. Partly through the enforcement of the written terms of Treaty 7, which was instituted by the Canadian government and fostered by agents of the colonial bureaucracy, forms of disciplinary power disrupted the...

  9. Colour Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. Chapter Three The Repression of Indigenous Subsistence Practices in Rocky Mountains Park
    (pp. 49-76)

    For centuries, Nakoda communities lived throughout the Banff–Bow Valley with established subsistence uses of the region. The emergence of Canada’s first national park and the corresponding protected areas had significant consequences for local Indigenous communities. Through the formation of Rocky Mountains Park (RMP), conservation discourse was produced during the period from the treaty making until the early 1920s. This discourse was central to both the creation of the parks system and the extension of restrictions placed on the subsistence land uses of Nakoda communities. Conservation discourse was also intricately linked to the implementation of levels of discipline designed to...

  11. Chapter Four Sporting and Tourism Festivals: Representations of Indigenous Peoples
    (pp. 77-106)

    From the 1880s until the middle of the twentieth century, the development of tourism economies in the Banff–Bow Valley initiated a dynamic period in the region’s history. Local Indigenous peoples participated in the tourism industry and in various capacities contributed to the production of “naturalness” discourse, which was central to the marketing of Rocky Mountains Park and the Banff townsite. By selling certain images of the region while actively concealing others, tourism entrepreneurs promoted the Banff–Bow Valley as an international tourist destination. Nakoda First Nations community members influenced the production of this discourse through both their involvement in...

  12. Chapter Five Rethinking the Banff Indian Days as Critical Spaces of Cultural Exchange
    (pp. 107-138)

    The production of “Indigeneity” in the Banff–Bow Valley from 1911 to 1980 was informed by the regional development of tourism economies. The participation of Nakoda peoples in the Banff Indian Days cultural and sporting festivals was a significant part of these processes as they offered unique socio-economic, political, and cultural opportunities. Clearly, the exclusion of Indigenous peoples from the lands and resources inside RMP, which were fundamental to their cultural practices, had significant impacts on their communities. The Indian Days facilitated a process whereby Nakoda peoples returned to important sites within the park boundaries and reasserted their cultural links...

  13. Chapter Six Looking Back and Pushing Ahead
    (pp. 139-150)

    It was a summer evening and I was travelling east on the 1A highway through the Nakoda reserve near Morley. The sun was shining with brilliance and I had just turned away from the sparkling Bow River, heading into the shadow of Mount Yamnuska, a summit that has particular significance for Nakoda peoples as a location for cultural ceremonies. I was on my way to a sweat lodge at the home of Lenny Poucette, an elder I had met through volunteering.¹ I felt honoured each time I was invited to such an intimate cultural experience by a respected elder and...

  14. Appendix
    (pp. 151-158)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 159-174)
  16. References
    (pp. 175-192)
  17. Index
    (pp. 193-195)