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Indigenous Peoples and Demography

Indigenous Peoples and Demography: The Complex Relation between Identity and Statistics

Per Axelsson
Peter Sköld
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 354
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  • Book Info
    Indigenous Peoples and Demography
    Book Description:

    When researchers want to study indigenous populations they are dependent upon the highly variable way in which states or territories enumerate, categorise and differentiate indigenous people. In this volume, anthropologists, historians, demographers and sociologists have come together for the first time to examine the historical and contemporary construct of indigenous people in a number of fascinating geographical contexts around the world, including Canada, the United States, Colombia, Russia, Scandinavia, the Balkans and Australia. Using historical and demographical evidence, the contributors explore the creation and validity of categories for enumerating indigenous populations, the use and misuse of ethnic markers, micro-demographic investigations, and demographic databases, and thereby show how the situation varies substantially between countries.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-003-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld

    This volume examines the historical and contemporary construction of indigenous peoples in a number of fascinating geographical contexts around the world. Colonisation, political policies and cultural processes have often excluded or devalued representations of indigenous peoples in official statistics. Researchers are dependent on the highly variable way in which states or territories enumerate, categorise and differentiate indigenous peoples. In a long-term perspective, ethnic markers in censuses or other demographic records have shown great differences between nations, regions and parishes, and other administrative units.

    In the autumn of 2006, thirty researchers gathered in Umeå in northern Sweden to attend a workshop...

  7. 1 Fractional Identities: The Political Arithmetic of Aboriginal Victorians
    (pp. 15-32)
    Len Smith, Janet McCalman, Ian Anderson, Sandra Smith, Joanne Evans, Gavan McCarthy and Jane Beer

    The debate over the size of the Aboriginal population of Australia on the eve of the European invasion has been complicated by the nationʹs unsavory ʹhistory warsʹ. The smaller the number of original inhabitants, the lower is the implied number of colonial casualties and the more defensible appears the claim that a people of the plough had a right to convert a seemingly empty land into a food basket for the Empire. However, as scholars have come to understand the complexity of Aboriginal society and its management of plant and animal food resources, they have also gained a new appreciation...

  8. 2 Building Ethnic Boundaries in New Zealand: Representations of Maori Identity in the Census
    (pp. 33-54)
    Tahu Kukutai

    Defining ethnic boundaries for official purposes is an inherently political task, but one deemed necessary in many multiethnic states.¹ The definition of indigenous identity for official purposes is especially contentious, given the intrinsic link between indigeneity, and claims to territory and self-determination.² Although indigenous rights may be enshrined constitutionally or by treaty, the matter of who qualifies as indigenous for state recognition and reward is largely determined by bureaucratic rules and classifications. Official demographic sources, and the national census in particular, are important forums where indigenous identities are constructed and circumscribed. As the flagship of enumeration, the census is an...

  9. 3 Counting Indians: Census Categories in Late Colonial and Early Republican Spanish America
    (pp. 55-72)
    Steinar A. Saether

    Estimating the size of indigenous populations in Latin America and accounting for their demographic development is a most difficult – if not impossible – task. The most renowned part of the debate about native demographic history in the Americas has concerned the magnitude of the demographic collapse following the European conquests of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.¹ Although less publicised, the more recent demographic history of indigenous groups is also teeming with unanswered questions, lacunae of knowledge, broad speculations, intriguing case studies and perspectives which have the potential of altering our way of conceiving the history of Latin America, and...

  10. 4 The Construction of Life Tables for the American Indian Population at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 73-94)
    J. David Hacker and Michael R. Haines

    Substantial qualitative evidence indicates that the American Indian population of the United States suffered high mortality in the five centuries after contact with European populations (Thornton 2000). Comprehensive and reliable age-specific mortality data, however, are not available until after 1955, when the U.S. Public Health Services assumed responsibility for Indian healthcare (Shoemaker 1999: 8). Rough estimates of life expectancy before that date suggest very high mortality rates. In 1940, American Indian life expectancy at birth for both sexes combined is estimated to have been 51.6 years, 12.6 years lower than that of the white population and 1.5 years lower than...

  11. 5 The Aboriginal Population and the 1891 Census of Canada
    (pp. 95-116)
    Michelle A. Hamilton and Kris Inwood

    As more national censuses are being sampled and digitised, scholars are examining the social, political and geographical context of enumeration in order to interpret historical enumeration data.¹ The construction of questions for the census schedules, the instructions to enumerators, the physical process of enumeration, and the tabulation of results influenced the type of information collected, the accuracy with which it was recorded, and the probability that several sectors of the population were over or undercounted or distorted.² Regarding indigenous populations, Alterman (1969: 293–96) and Jobe (2004) have shown that political policies shaped the efforts to enumerate Native Americans in...

  12. 6 ʹIn the National Registry, All People Are Equalʹ: Sami in Swedish Statistical Sources
    (pp. 117-134)
    Per Axelsson

    Sweden has a long and well-known history of population statistics as well as one of the worldʹs most eminent and all-inclusive collections of statistical information on its population. As long ago as 1749 a system for annually collecting and presenting population statistics, theTabellverket, was created, offering an overview of demographic events from all 2,500 parishes in Sweden, and tax registers, parish registers and different administrative books had been kept prior to 1749 (Sköld 2004: 7–8). During the eighteenth century, nearly all countries lacked information on ethnic groups, but the Swedish parish registers from that time contain ethnic markers,...

  13. 7 The Registers of the ʹSami Taxʹ from 1600 to 1750, and Their Usefulness for Reconstructing Population Development and Settlement in Northern Nordland, Norway
    (pp. 135-148)
    Lars Ivar Hansen

    The first real, comprehensive census of Norway – in the sense that it recorded both sexes and people of all age groups – was undertaken in 1769. Prior to this, only two, more general, surveys of the population had been carried out – between 1664 and 1666, and in 1701 – but they only included the male population, and the last one only males over one year of age (see Dyrvik 1983). They also differed highly from region to region as to how exactly they registered the Sami population. Thus, when it comes to estimating population numbers and distribution before...

  14. 8 Viewing Ethnicity from the Perspective of Individuals and Households: Finnmark during the Late Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 149-162)
    Hilde L. Jåstad

    In Norway, historical sources which yield first-hand information about how different ethnic groups defined themselves are scarce. Second-hand information on the other hand is available in the population censuses undertaken from 1845 onwards.¹ The first part of this article gives a brief description of the source material, and in order to evaluate the strength of the ethnicity variable given in the population censuses a comparison is carried out with J.A. Friisʹs population table attached to his ethnographic map of 1861 and his estimate of the Sami population (Friis 1861: 1–5). In the second part of the article the focus...

  15. 9 Finn in Flux: ʹFinnʹ as a Category in Norwegian Population Censuses of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
    (pp. 163-172)
    Bjørg Evjen

    The first population census in Norway took place in 1769, but it was not until 1801 that censuses were taken regularly. A plan was established to carry out a census every ten years, and to some extent the Norwegian authorities succeeded in this. In 1845 it was decided that ethnicity should be recorded as part of the census, but on a numeric level, and the household or family was entered as a whole. From 1865 onwards, censuses were recorded in a nominative fashion, and an ethnic label was designated to each household or family.

    There was, however, no agreement on...

  16. 10 Testing and Constructing Ethnicity Variables in Late Nineteenth-Century Censuses
    (pp. 173-184)
    Gunnar Thorvaldsen

    The Norwegian censuses from 1845 to 1930 hold information on ethnicity in the northern part of the country. However, this information is sometimes erroneous and incomplete. A method has been developed to detect inconsistencies in the registration of ethnicity for Sami and Finnish populations. By constructing group-level variables and using complementary sources, a more coherent pattern of the distribution of ethnic groups emerges.

    In the northern parts of Norway three different ethnic groups have lived together over the centuries in what has been coined the meeting place of the three ʹtribesʹ: Sami, Norwegians and Finns, mentioned in the order they...

  17. 11 Out of the Backwater? Prospects for Contemporary Sami Demography in Norway
    (pp. 185-196)
    Torunn Pettersen

    The indigenous Sami peopleʹs traditional settlement area is in the northwest of the European mainland. This continuous geographical area, which is divided by the four countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, is called Sápmi in the Sami language.

    Since 1985 football matches have been organised from time to time between a Sápmi team and other teams enrolled in an international football association for regions and countries that cannot be members of the International Football Federation (FIFA). From the very first match of this kind, Sami have discussed who is entitled to play football with the Sami flag on their...

  18. 12 The Mystery of the Magnate Reindeer Herders: Household Structure and Economy among Lake Essei Iakuts, 1926/7
    (pp. 197-218)
    David G. Anderson

    The region of the Putoran plateau in central Siberia is a place of dramatic flat-topped mountains and remote, pristine tundra. It is a place that has attracted Evenki, Iakut and Dolgan reindeer herders for centuries, since the unique alteration of alpine and high arctic ecosystems makes it a perfect place to elaborate the complex strategies needed for large-scale reindeer husbandry. Here, unlike in southern Evenkiia, the forests are thin, making it easy to find a large herd. Additionally, the windswept peaks of the mountains provide a haven from insects in the summer, making a long trip to the Arctic coast...

  19. 13 Microdemographics and Indigenous Identity in the Central Taimyr Lowlands
    (pp. 219-238)
    John P. Ziker

    Identity systems in indigenous and small-scale societies are known to include kinship and marriage systems, exchange networks and larger solidarities, such as lineages, clans and regional groups (Fox 1984; Stone 2000). Human identities can be hierarchically embedded on multiple layers and associated with language and national citizenship, and anthropologists have documented how various identities can be employed depending on social context. When governments become involved in enumerating people with complex identities, census categories are not necessarily congruent with native views.¹ In other words, ways of recording identity and related demographic and economic descriptions are subject to the biases of those...

  20. 14 Russian Legal Concepts and the Demography of Indigenous Peoples
    (pp. 239-252)
    Sergey V. Sokolovskiy

    The purpose of this chapter is to trace the conceptual construction of the Russian category of ʹsmall-numbered indigenous peoplesʹ and the influences of their legal status on identity politics, which in turn causes significant fluctuations in demographic dynamics.

    In Russian political discourse, ʹindigeneityʹ is not only a qualitative characteristic of a particular category of ethnic communities and individual persons.¹ It also has a quantitative dimension, and is sometimes represented as possessing multiple levels and gradations in intensity. Political discourse and the categorisation of population groups overlap to a significant extent with legal discourse because political categorisation tends to be institutionalised...

  21. 15 Indigenous Populations, Ethnicity and Demography in the Eastern Baltic Littoral in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
    (pp. 253-272)
    Andrejs Plakans

    Few would disagree with the proposition that historical demographic sources, particularly censuses and census-like enumerations, are fated to be somewhat out of step with the societies whose characteristics they seek to portray (Anderson 1988). Censuses classify at a moment in time and produce seemingly precise numbers, whereas the societies they enumerate are always in the process of changing. Census categories require clear-cut decisions about personal and group identities, while identities tend to be protean and may shift for large numbers of people even as a census fixes them in time and place (Eley and Suny 1996). Censuses used by themselves...

  22. 16 Who Are the British?
    (pp. 273-294)
    John MacInnes

    Identity categories usually fit poorly into the ordered classification systems of official censuses and surveys since they lack an external, standard referent. People can make claims about their own or othersʹ identity that are not subject to the kind of verification applicable to their sex, place of birth or current occupation. Identity categories are ʹfluidʹ, not in the sense that they might change over time, like occupation, but in the sense that being entirely discursively constructed there neither is, nor can there be, any mechanism to endow them with a fixed meaning. Because of this, measuring identity in this way...

  23. Epilogue: From Indigenous Demographics to an Indigenous Demography
    (pp. 295-308)
    Per Axelsson, Peter Sköld, John P. Ziker and David G. Anderson

    There has always been a close association between enumeration, the classification of peoples and state power. Demographers working with indigenous populations find themselves at the intersection of these forces. Demographic arguments have often been marshalled when settler states have an interest in taxation, in ʹprotectingʹ rural minorities or enfranchising populations to vote in ethnically stratified parliaments. At the start of the twenty-first century there are now populations on all inhabited continents making claims to indigenous status, and with each of those claims come sociological and demographic representations of their entitlements in each place. The workshop and the dialogue which lead...

  24. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 309-312)
  25. Index
    (pp. 313-342)