The Burden of History
237 pages, 6 x 9
2 maps
Release Date:01 Feb 2000
Release Date:05 May 1999
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

The Burden of History

Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community

UBC Press

This book is an ethnography of the cultural politics of Native/non-Native relations in a small interior BC city – Williams Lake –at the height of land claims conflicts and tensions. Furniss analyses contemporary colonial relations in settler societies, arguing that “ordinary” rural Euro- Canadians exercise power in maintaining the subordination of aboriginal people through “common sense” assumptions and assertions about history, society, and identity, and that these cultural activities are forces in an ongoing, contemporary system of colonial domination. She traces the main features of the regional Euro-Canadian culture and shows how this cultural complex is thematically integrated through the idea of the frontier. Key facets of this frontier complex are expressed in diverse settings: casual conversations among Euro-Canadians; popular histories; museum displays; political discourse; public debates about aboriginal land claims; and ritual celebrations of the city's heritage.

In each setting, Furniss shows how these cultural practices contribute to the marginalization of area Shuswap [Sepwecemc], Tsilhqo’'in [Chilcotin], and Carrier peoples, and how area Native people are continually engaging in diverse and innovative modes of resistance to the dominant regional culture.

Provides a deep examination of Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian relations in the city of Williams Lake, British Columbia. I recommend this book to those concerned with British Columbia, the culture of the frontier in North America, or the relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Matthew Engel, Environment and Planning A 2000, Volume 32
This book, a study of cultural politics in Williams Lake, British Columbia, is an admirable exponent of this reinvention of ethnography ... the book is a refreshing portrait of diversity both within and between the aboriginal and nonaboriginal communities, and the variety of views represented shows the complexity of the issues within their proper historical and cultural contexts. David Mardiros, CBRA 4210
Elizabeth Furniss is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary.


1 Culture and Colonialism in Rural British Columbia

2 The Burden of History

3 The Landscape of Public History: Pioneers, Progress, and the Myth of the Frontier

4 Mobilizing History: Regional Identities, Pioneer Traditions, and the Frontier Myth in Political Discourse

5 Indians, Whites, and Common-Sense Racism

6 Encountering Histories: The Land Claims Public Forum

7 Re-creating the Wild West: Negotiating Indianness in the Williams Lake Stampede

8 The Frontier Complex: Conclusions and Comments

Notes; References; Index

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