432 pages, 6 5/8 x 9 1/2
Release Date:01 Jan 2011


Lives of Aboriginal Women of the Canadian Northwest and Borderlands

Athabasca University Press

Recollecting is a rich collection of essays that illuminates the lives of late-eighteenth-century to mid-twentieth-century Aboriginal women, who have been overlooked in sweeping narratives of the history of the West.

Some essays focus on individuals – a trader, a performer, a non-human woman. Other essays examine cohorts of women – wives, midwives, seamstresses, nuns. Authors look beyond the documentary record and standard representations of women, drawing on records generated by the women themselves, including their beadwork, other material culture, and oral histories. Exploring the constraints and boundaries these women encountered, the authors engage with difficult and important questions of gender, race, and identity. Collectively these essays demonstrate the complexity of "contact zone" interactions, and they enrich and challenge dominant narratives about histories of the Canadian Northwest.

Sarah Carter is a professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair in both the Department of History and Classics and the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Her most recent books are The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation Building in Western Canada and Montana Women Homesteaders: A Field of One’s Own. Patricia A. McCormack is an associate professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on Aboriginal peoples of the northwestern Plains, northern Canada, and Scotland. She is the author of Fort Chipewyan and the Shaping of Canadian History, 1788-1920s, published by UBC Press.

Contributors: Sarah Carter, Patricia A. McCormack, Susan Berry, Alison K. Brown, with Christina Massan and Alison Grant, Lesley Erickson, Maureen Atkinson, Kristin Burnett, Jean Barman, Nathan D. Carlson, Susan Elaine Gray, Jennifer S.H. Brown, and Kristin L. Gleeson.

List of Illustrations


Lifelines: Searching for Aboriginal Women of the Northwest and Borderlands / Sarah Carter and Patricia A. McCormack

Part 1: Transatlantic Connections

1 Recovered Identities: Four Métis Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rupert’s Land / Susan Berry

2 Lost Women: Native Wives in Orkney and Lewis / Patricia A. McCormack

3 Christina Massan’s Beadwork and the Recovery of a Fur Trade Family History / Alison K. Brown, with Christina Massan & Alison Grant

Part 2: Cultural Mediators

4 Repositioning the Missionary: Sara Riel, the Grey Nuns, and Aboriginal Women in Catholic Missions of the Northwest / Lesley Erickson

5 The “Accomplished” Odille Quintal Morison: Tsimshian Cultural Intermediary of Metlakatla, British Columbia / Maureen L. Atkinson

6 Obscured Obstetrics: Indigenous Midwives in Western Canada / Kristin Burnett

Part 3: In the Borderlands

7 Sophie Morigeau: Free Trader, Free Woman / Jean Barman

8 The Montana Memories of Emma Minesinger: Windows on the Family, Work, and Boundary Culture of a Borderlands Woman / Sarah Carter

Part 4: The Spirit World

9 Searching for Catherine Auger: The Forgotten Wife of the Wîhtikôw (Windigo) / Nathan D. Carlson

10 Pakwâciskwew: A Reacquaintance with Wilderness Woman / Susan Elaine Gray

Part 5: Challenging and Crafting Representations 

11 Frances Nickawa: “A Gifted Interpreter of the Poetry of Her Race” / Jennifer S.H. Brown

12 Blazing Her Own Trail: Anahareo’s Rejection of Euro-Canadian Stereotypes / Kristin L. Gleeson


List of Contributors


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