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'Being Alive Well'

'Being Alive Well': Health and the Politics of Cree Well-Being

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    'Being Alive Well'
    Book Description:

    A critical anthropological analysis of health theory with specific reference to the James Bay Cree. The author argues that definitions of health are not simply reflections of physiological soundness but convey broader cultural and political realities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2111-4
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Chapter 1 ‘If the land is not healthy then how can we be?’
    (pp. 3-20)

    ‘If the land is not healthy then how can we be?’ No words can summarize more succinctly the essence of what it means to be healthy for the Whapmagoostui Cree.² The mention of land and its condition signals a broadened perspective on health that permeates not just one elder Cree man’s words but the outlook of this entire book. Shaking loose any suppositions of a natural or universal definition of health, I take as a given that health is interpreted, idealized, and enacted in various ways. In other words, experiences and understandings of health and well-being are always historically and...

  5. Chapter 2 The Whapmagoostui Iyiyuu’ch
    (pp. 21-58)

    At some point – perhaps when the village became a permanent site, or when the schools were opened and children were required to stay at the post for longer periods of time, or when anthropologists arrived and began recording and writing about the people living in their summer residence, or perhaps even more recently, when Great Whale divided officially into Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuarapik – the history of the Cree and the history of the village began to coalesce into virtually interchangeable histories. Today we talk about the approximately 600 peoplefromWhapmagoostui, not always differentiating between those who live there...

  6. Chapter 3 Miyupimaatisiiun: ‘Being Alive Well’
    (pp. 59-98)

    They were miyupimaatisiiu because they lived in the Indian way, which was good for them. … And the people said that’s the reason why they were strong and healthy because they didn’t use anything from the whiteman. … That’s why they were strong and miyupimaatisiiu, and that’s what the elders knew. They were a kind of people, even if they didn’t have anything much, they still would know what to do to keep well and strong in their lives. … And that’s how it was, before whiteman came.¹

    Sitting in the kitchen, or the living room, or sometimes in a...

  7. Chapter 4 The Politics of Miyupimaatisiiun
    (pp. 99-112)

    Much as the people with whom I spoke could not escape the links betweenmiyupimaatisiiunand the history of living on the land, I cannot escape the connections between identity and personal, social, and political well-being. At one level,miyupimaatisiiunmeans that a person is able to pursue those activities associated with hunting and bush living: eating the right foods, keeping warm, and maintaining the viability of the group through sharing with those in need. These activities are in turn a constituent part of a larger cosmological order in which animals and humans exist alongside their spiritual counterparts. This is...

  8. Chapter 5 Summary and Postscript
    (pp. 113-116)

    I began this treatise on the bio-politics of health with a quote from Joseph Masty Sr. ‘How,’ he asked during one of our interviews, ‘can we be healthy if the land is not?’ That question could just as easily have moved me into the realm of political ecology or environmental health. Instead, I focused on what health means to the Whapmagoostui Cree in the context of their symbolic, economic, political, and historic relations with the land and, more generally, with the State. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the question is more complex than this, even as...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 117-130)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 131-138)
  11. Index
    (pp. 139-142)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 143-144)