The Importance of Family Ties to Members of Cowessess First Nation

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/196139
Title:
The Importance of Family Ties to Members of Cowessess First Nation
Author:
Innes, Robert Alexander
Issue Date:
2007
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This study links the kinship practices of contemporary members of Cowessess First Nation to the historical notions of kinship regulated in the 'law of the people' and conveyed through the trickster stories of Wisakejak. Specifically, this study examines how Cowessess band members continued adherence to principles of the traditional laws of kinship has undermined the imposition of the legal and scholarly definitions of 'Indian.' By acknowledging kinship relations to band members who either had not been federally recognized as Indians prior to 1985, or were urban members disconnected from the reserve. This acknowledgement defies the general perception that First Nations people have internalized the legal definition of Indian, and in the process rendered traditional kinship meaningless. It also questions the accepted idea that conflict is the only possible outcome of any relationship between "old" members and "newly recognized" Indians. The importance of kinship to Cowessess band members blurs the legal (as defined by the Indian Act) boundaries between status Indians, Bill C-31s, Métis, and non-status Indians and scholarly distinctions made between tribal groups, proving the artificiality of those boundaries. In the pre-reserve period, band membership was fluid, flexible, and inclusive. There were a variety of ways that individuals or groups of people could become members of a band, but what was of particular importance was that these new members assumed some sort of kinship role with its associated responsibilities. Kinship roles were carefully encoded in the traditional stories of the Cree trickster, Wisakejak. Wisakejak stories were "the law of the people" that outlined, among other things, the peoples' social interaction including the incorporation of individuals into a band. Contemporary members of Cowessess First Nation, in spite of outsiders' classifications of Aboriginal peoples, continue to define community identity and interaction based on principles outlined in the Wisakejak stories. Cowessess members' interpretations of contemporary kinship practices, then, are significant to understanding how contemporary First Nations put into practice their beliefs about kinship roles and responsibilities and demonstrates that these practices and beliefs are rooted in traditional cultural values.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
American Indian Studies; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Lomawaima, K. Tsianina
Committee Chair:
Lomawaima, K. Tsianina

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleThe Importance of Family Ties to Members of Cowessess First Nationen_US
dc.creatorInnes, Robert Alexanderen_US
dc.contributor.authorInnes, Robert Alexanderen_US
dc.date.issued2007en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis study links the kinship practices of contemporary members of Cowessess First Nation to the historical notions of kinship regulated in the 'law of the people' and conveyed through the trickster stories of Wisakejak. Specifically, this study examines how Cowessess band members continued adherence to principles of the traditional laws of kinship has undermined the imposition of the legal and scholarly definitions of 'Indian.' By acknowledging kinship relations to band members who either had not been federally recognized as Indians prior to 1985, or were urban members disconnected from the reserve. This acknowledgement defies the general perception that First Nations people have internalized the legal definition of Indian, and in the process rendered traditional kinship meaningless. It also questions the accepted idea that conflict is the only possible outcome of any relationship between "old" members and "newly recognized" Indians. The importance of kinship to Cowessess band members blurs the legal (as defined by the Indian Act) boundaries between status Indians, Bill C-31s, Métis, and non-status Indians and scholarly distinctions made between tribal groups, proving the artificiality of those boundaries. In the pre-reserve period, band membership was fluid, flexible, and inclusive. There were a variety of ways that individuals or groups of people could become members of a band, but what was of particular importance was that these new members assumed some sort of kinship role with its associated responsibilities. Kinship roles were carefully encoded in the traditional stories of the Cree trickster, Wisakejak. Wisakejak stories were "the law of the people" that outlined, among other things, the peoples' social interaction including the incorporation of individuals into a band. Contemporary members of Cowessess First Nation, in spite of outsiders' classifications of Aboriginal peoples, continue to define community identity and interaction based on principles outlined in the Wisakejak stories. Cowessess members' interpretations of contemporary kinship practices, then, are significant to understanding how contemporary First Nations put into practice their beliefs about kinship roles and responsibilities and demonstrates that these practices and beliefs are rooted in traditional cultural values.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAmerican Indian Studiesen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorLomawaima, K. Tsianinaen_US
dc.contributor.chairLomawaima, K. Tsianinaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMartin, Roberten_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWilliams, Roberten_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWheeler, Winonaen_US
dc.identifier.proquest2072en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659747326en_US
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