Fluid Authenticity: An Examination of the Historiography of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples, 1965 – 2005
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How can you write about a culture whose history is passed on by oral traditions? Better yet, how can you comprehend a culture’s past which a dominant society desired to assimilate? These two questions outline the difficulty in understanding the historiography of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. In 2003, Paige Raibmon published her article, “Living on Display: Colonial Visions of Aboriginal Domestic Spaces.” Her work, although focused on Canada’s colonial “notions of domesticity,” presents the role of Aboriginals as performers to European notions of indigenous culture and identity. Early social historians believe that Aboriginals’ place in history is in their interactions with European Jesuits. A decade later, historians argue Aboriginals…show more content… He states, “many [Aboriginal] pupils were kept out of school,” when their communities held cultural and spiritual ceremonies which Jesuits did not condone. In doing so, Zaslow argues Aboriginal local resistance worked to maintain continuance of Aboriginal culture and identity.
James Ronda’s article furthers Zaslow’s argument on local resistance as means to maintain survival of Aboriginal cultural and spiritual values. Ronda concedes that missionaries looked upon Aboriginals as little more than “wandering animals,” and used Christianity as a “prime carrier of European values.” Although Aboriginals were unable to fully halt Jesuit Christianization efforts, Zaslow develops their local resistance effort of theological discussion with the Jesuits, “often became platforms for Indian criticism of Christianity.” Zaslow concludes that this form of local resistance,
“forced [Jesuits] to admit that religion was a powerful element in Indian life… [and] were compelled to come to grips with both Indian religion and religious leaders as potent centres of resistance to Jesuit plans.”
Combined, Trigger, Zaslow and Ronda articles suggest that determining the local