Paul DePasquale, ed. Natives and Settlers Now and Then: Historical Issues and Current Perspectives on Treaties and Land Claims in Canada. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2006. 220 pp. $49.94 (paper), ISBN 978-0-88864-462-6.
Greg Johnson. Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007. xi + 208 pp. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8139-2661-2; $19.50 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8139-2662-9.
Reviewed by Christine Boston
Published on H-AmIndian (February, 2009)
Commissioned by Patrick G. Bottiger
Sacred Lands, Sacred Claims
Natives and Settlers Now and Then, edited by Paul DePasquale, and Sacred Claims, by Greg Johnson, address similar themes: repatriation of native lands or material remains and identities. Focusing on native land claims in Canada, the contributors to Natives and Settlers examine land claims and treaties from a primarily historic perspective, although they also delve into current repercussions of treaties. Such an approach resembles Aboriginal Land Claims in Canada: A Regional Perspective (1992), edited by Ken Coates, who dissected complex Canadian land claim issues. Complementing Natives and Settlers, Sacred Claims focuses on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (more commonly referred to as NAGPRA) with a particular emphasis on repatriation efforts and claims by a native Hawaiian group. While there have been several books dedicated to the subject of NAGPRA, this one provides a unique angle by concentrating on Hawaiian material.
DePasquale introduces Natives and Settlers by explaining the origins of the volume, which began as a series of conferences centering on native issues and the interactions between native and European peoples. This edited collection expands on those themes by incorporating a native perspective. Such an approach allows the contributors to better evaluate the factors shaping present day relationships between natives and nonnatives in Canada. Jonathan Hart, for example, argues that both groups need a greater understanding of their past as well as mutual respect to address current misunderstandings. This collection is meant to be a source for educating the public to reach these goals.
Illustrating historical perspectives on treaties and treaty making in Canada, Natives and Settlers is a useful resource for understanding processes that have played an important part in land claims across the country. The authors draw from a range of sources including oral traditions, personal anecdotes, archival records, modern laws, original treaties, and published works to create a well-rounded and well-researched volume. This range of sources produces a blend of information that unites both the cultural and the academic, creating an enriching volume that is practical and educational.
Sharon Venne builds on these issues in her essay “Treaties Made in Good Faith." Venne explains how the British took advantage of the Cree during the original treaty making process by exploiting linguistic and cultural misunderstandings between both groups. Patricia Seed discusses some of the same issues but through an international perspective. Her essay, “Three Treaty Nations Compared: Economic and Political Consequences for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the United States, and New Zealand,” investigates the treaty making processes between three nations and their indigenous peoples to illustrate the mechanisms put in place that caused the loss of native lands. It also explores how one group of New Zealand natives was able to restore their land rights based on shrewd treating making skills. Frank Tough and Erin McGregor explore the colonial land scrip system in “'The Rights to the Land May Be Transferred': Archival records as Colonial Text--A Narrative of Metis Scrip.” The authors rely on archival documents to trace the land claims by one Metis man, in particular, and to show how the Canadian government manufactured a system that never officially granted lands to claimants. Finally, Harold Cardinal's contribution explores themes of nation building and native identity in Canada in “Nation-Building: Reflections of a Nihiyow (Cree).” Cardinal's essay is an appropriate closing to this volume because it connects the other contributions by evaluating how the past influenced modern native identity.
Two additional sections follow Cardinal's essay--a detailed "Question and Discussion" section and a dedication to Cardinal. The "Question and Discussion" section, which is a transcription drawn from a session at the conference, clarifies many of the issues brought up in the papers presented both at the conferences and in the collection. Readers may find it a handy reference if they have any unanswered questions. The dedication to Cardinal, who passed away before the publication of the volume, is a testament to his personal accomplishments for native communities, and includes dedications from each of the volume's contributors.
While the focus of this book is historical, it can be used in various academic settings, including but not limited to political science, anthropology, native studies, and Canadian studies. The various topics explored in this book create this broad appeal; for instance, the authors discuss such diverse topics as Canadian and International law, identity, and culture. The wide academic appeal is also based on the various backgrounds of authors who contributed to the volume. Each of these authors conveys their own unique perspective as well as their disciplinary specialty. Venne is a lawyer active in representing natives in land claims, Cardinal was a political leader who dedicated his life to native issues, and the remainder of the authors are specialists of Aboriginal studies from various academic departments (English, literature, anthropology, native studies, and history).
This book pairs nicely with Johnson's Sacred Claims, a monograph based on research Johnson conducted during his doctoral studies, which focused on how NAGPRA has aided the processes that create and recreate Native American and native Hawaiian identity and culture. Johnson’s approach regarding NAGPRA fits well with other books on the topic, such as The Future of the Past: Archaeologists, Native Americans and Repatriation (2001), edited by Tamara L. Bray, and Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity (2000) by David Hurst Thomas and Sarah Colley. The ease in which Johnson relates NAGPRA to cultural identity makes the book unique.
Johnson’s study begins with an examination of the terms "identity" and "culture." He points to the problematic nature of viewing them as static and unchanging, and argues that in reality they are both dynamic and evolving. Johnson focuses on his interactions with one Hawaiian group, the Hui Mālama, and their struggles with NAGPRA for the repatriation of Hawaiian artifacts. He explains the mechanisms underlying the formation of NAGPRA and provides an in-depth analysis of the legislation. Johnson's book holds a lot of promise for those wishing to understand repatriation and NAGPRA. He discusses the background of the Hawaiian repatriation movement and its origins. He reiterates several times the difficult process surrounding repatriation by showing the conflicting views on repatriation from native Hawaiians, the various interpretations of NAGPRA, and the motivations of each group involved in the repatriation process. Johnson dovetails the multifactorial nature of the movement with a specific examination of various repatriation claims of native Hawaiians and Native Americans.
Johnson achieves his goal of showing the evolving nature of culture and tradition by illustrating how the meanings of words and associations with material objects change to fit the needs of people. He examines a mainland Native American claim--the Ute tribe's claim on Anasazi cultural materials--to make this point. According to Johnson, the Ute have no historical or cultural claim to the Anasazi remains that are situated on their reservation lands. As time progressed from their original placement on these lands and as the Ute culture changed, they raised a claim for the Anasazi artifacts. Johnson explains that this claim is based on a need to fulfill a loss of cultural identity and tradition, and that the Anasazi artifacts are viewed as a way of fulfilling this perceived loss. Johnson’s use of the Ute example solidifies his argument that culture and tradition are ever changing entities. He further illustrates this point throughout the book in chronicling the disputes between the various native Hawaiian groups involved in the Bishop Museum case of repatriating native Hawaiian human remains to the Hui Mālama.
Johnson attempts to balance the book by presenting a myriad of perspectives on repatriation from the native groups and claimants, museums, archaeologists, and collectors who have possession of the cultural artifacts. Johnson's role in his research, however, leaves him unable to obtain personal interviews and interactions with museum personnel, archaeologists, and collectors. He tries to make up for this by providing as much information as he can regarding their motivations and perspectives through news reports, press releases, and other sources. Furthermore, although Johnson claims that he will look at both native Hawaiian and Native American claims, he presents mainly native Hawaiian claims. When he focuses on Native American claims, he examines solely the contentious issue of the Anasazi remains, which has been well documented in Grave Injustice: The American Indian Movement and NAGPRA (2002), edited by Kathleen Fine-Dare. However, unlike other sources that concentrate on this issue from the Hopi and Navajo perspective, Johnson discusses the other claimants who have become involved in this repatriation claim, with a particular focus on the Ute tribe.
On a positive note, the level of detail provided by Johnson, such as information on NAGPRA Review Committee meetings, gives the reader the opportunity to understand the complex issues discussed during these meetings. This attention to detail is a credit to Johnson and reflects the care and dedication that he puts into his work. This attention to detail makes this book a great resource in many ways. While it is not as holistic as one may hope, the book's themes are general enough that they can be applied to various situations. Plus, the concentration on Hawaii makes this an excellent source for individuals wishing to study the complexities of both the native Hawaiian culture and their repatriation issues. Furthermore, Johnson's exploration of the meanings of and changes to NAGPRA has created an invaluable resource to anyone wishing further understanding of NAGPRA and the repatriation processes. Similar to Natives and Settlers, this book is accessible to a wide audience. Based on the themes Johnson discusses, Sacred Claims will be useful for scholars of anthropology, religious studies, sociology, and political science.
Despite the different content of the two volumes, these two books are united under one main theme: native/nonnative interactions. These books confront this theme in different ways: Natives and Settlers takes a historical approach by examining the history behind native and nonnative treaties, while Sacred Claims looks at the modern NAGPRA and how it is producing new interactions between native and nonnatives. Both volumes showcase the struggles between natives and nonnatives while they attempt to renegotiate identity, space, and culture, and both point to how such negotiations have led to cultural misunderstandings, unfair stereotypes, and other persistent conflicts. These volumes provide readers with the resources necessary to begin resolving intercultural conflict.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the list discussion logs at: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl.
Christine Boston. Review of DePasquale, Paul, ed, Natives and Settlers Now and Then: Historical Issues and Current Perspectives on Treaties and Land Claims in Canada and
Johnson, Greg, Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition.
H-AmIndian, H-Net Reviews.
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