No need of a chief for this band
216 pages, 6 x 9
9 b&w photos, 16 tables, 1 map
Release Date:01 Jan 2011
Release Date:21 May 2010
Release Date:01 Jan 2011

No need of a chief for this band

The Maritime Mi'kmaq and Federal Electoral Legislation, 1899-1951

UBC Press

In 1899, the Canadian government implemented a policy to replace Mi’kmaw leader selection and other political practices with the triennial system, a Euro-Canadian system of democratic band council elections. Officials in Ottawa assumed the federally mandated and supervised system would redefine Mi’kmaw politics. They were wrong.

Drawing on reports and correspondence of the Department of Indian Affairs, Martha Walls details the rich life of Mi’kmaw politics between 1899 and 1951. She shows that many Mi’kmaw communities rejected, ignored, or amended federal electoral legislation. Those communities that did accept triennial elections did so sporadically – not in acquiescence to Ottawa’s assimilative project, but to meet specific community needs and goals. This compelling and nuanced study complicates understandings of state power by showing that the Mi’kmaw did not succumb to imposed political models but rather retained political practices that distinguished them from their Euro-Canadian neighbours.

This timely book offers support for Aboriginal claims at a time when Aboriginal peoples and governments across Canada are attempting to come to terms with the issue of self-governance. It will not only appeal to historians of the Maritimes and Aboriginal-state relations in Canada but also to students and scholars of Native studies, political science, and law.

This book is essential reading for historians of the Maritime provinces and those studying Aboriginal-state relations in Canada.

This important, compelling study reveals the creativity and persistence of the Mi’kmaq in responding to the federal assimilation campaign. By demonstrating the flexibility with which the Mi’kmaq resisted, accommodated, and adapted the triennial elective band council system, Walls contributes significantly to a more nuanced understanding of Mi’kmaw cultural change, political engagement, and interaction with government. Robin Jarvis Brownlie, author of A Fatherly Eye: Indian Agents, Government Power, and Aboriginal Resistance in Ontario, 1918-1939
Walls's book deepens our understanding not only of Mi’kmaw history but also of the entire complex process of the negotiation of authority between Aboriginal communities and the Canadian state. Hers is a very considerable scholarly achievement. John Reid, co-editor of The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History
Martha Elizabeth Walls teaches Canadian, Atlantic Canadian, and First Nations history. 


1 The Mi’kmaw World in 1900
2 Continuity and Change in Mi’kmaw Politics to 1899
3  The Origins of the Triennial Band Council System
4 Federal Interference and Political Persistence in Mi’kmaw Communities
5 The Limits of Triennial Elections



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