Aboriginal Cultural Continuity

Aboriginal cultural continuity through the process of historical nation-state building. Hunter-gatherers and other indigenous populations around the world have been subject to severe change and trauma in the past centuries but in many cases their cultures have not been extinguished even though they have been greatly changed. “Can you help us prove to the courts that we still exist as a people and a way of life?” This is what Richard Daly was asked by prospective First Nations clients with regard to their litigation regarding self-governance and land rights. Projects To answer the above question Daly undertook participant observation data-gathering in his clients contemporary communities, as well as consulting historical documents (ethnohistory), ecological reports, economic history and the archaeological record to build a substantial trajectory for these cultures and ways of life on the eve of, during and after, the colonial experience. This involved working closely with legal teams engaged by these aboriginal clients, interviews and the sharing of life with members of the client communities and with “expatriot” members living away from the reserves. The findings were prepared as opinion evidence and in some cases was used as evidence in the law courts. These projects centred on the following legal actions. a) Delgamuukw et al v. Her Majesty the Queen in the right of British Columbia and the Attorney-General for Canada. In the Supreme Court of British Columbia 0843, Smithers Registry 1985-1991 (this case emerged from the Supreme Court of Canada December in 1997 with findings favourable to the plaintiffs). Daly carried out two years of research and writing and underwent 12 days of evidentiary presentation and cross-examination at the trial stage. This was a test case to determine the nature of Aboriginal Rights in the Canadian Constitution and had to do with self-governance as well as land management and proprietorship of a territory in northwest British Columbia that is roughly the size of Denmark. b) R. v. Van der Peet. (1996) 2 S. C. R.507, which determined that constitutional rights to Aboriginal peoples did not extend to the sale of fish caught in First Nations regions. Evidence for the defendants in this case required Daly to use some of the data gathered for the Alliance of Tribal Councils along the Fraser-Thompson Rivers watershed who, at the time, were in the process of taking the Government of Canada and the railways to court to stop transport developments (known as “double tracking”) that would have had serious consequences for salmon and other fishing at sites along the Fraser-Thompson watershed. These sites have been in use for centuries and some for at least the last 5,000 years. The double tracking issue was subsequently settled out of court. Daly’s evidence in Van der Peet showed that the Sto:lo people, ancestors to Mrs. Van der Peet, had been selling salmon to Europeans, including the Hudson’s Bay traders since at least 1814 at Fort Langley, and had been exchanging fish, other products and services, as well as family members, with each other for many centuries. c) Daly engaged in evidence-gathering on the aboriginal nature of gambling for Wetsuwet’en people fighting for the right to expand community income by offering gambling facilities on their reserve land. (1990-92). Cf. R. v. Victor Jim (1991). d) Alfred Joseph et al v. HMTQ in the right of Canada, Federal Court T-363-85. This was a case in which the reserve community of Hagwilget Village in northern British Columbia had been trying to obtain redress for the destruction of their traditional river fishery since 1958. Daly carried out a year of research and compiled evidence of the central role of the fishery to the viability of the community, which has since become highly demoralized and dependent upon social welfare services. The issue was settled out of court in 2009 with a substantial payment by Government for damages to the fishery-since by law, Government held a fiduciary responsibility to protect First Nations communities against the ravages of development. The cash settlement has been converted to a trust for education, cultural renewal and development within the local community. Writings 2006 Book Review of Mario Blaser, Harvey A. Feit & Glenn McRae, eds. 2004. In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects and Globalization (Studies in Continuing Education, Sydney, Australia). London & New York: Zed Books. 2005 Our Box Was Full: An Ethnography for the Delgamuukw Plaintiffs. Vancouver: UBC Press. 2003 (With Val Napoleon). A Dialogue on the Effects of Aboriginal Rights Litigation and Activism on Aboriginal Communities in Northwestern British Columbia. Social Analysis (47(3): 108-129. 2003 Anthropological Consultancy and the Crisis of Globalization. In "Forum: Expert Knowledge: First World Peoples, Consultancy, and Anthropology," R. Bastin & B. Morris, eds., Social Analysis 47 (1): 106-110. 2002 Pure Gifts and Impure Thoughts: Behind the Instrumentality of Northwest Coast Gift-giving. Paper presented at the Ninth Conference on Hunting and Gathering, Edinburgh, September 2002. 1999 Review of The Pleasure of the Crown: Anthropology, Law and First Nations. 1998. Dara Culhane. Vancouver: Talon Books, for Acta Borealis. University of Tromsø, Norway, and for Oceania 2000. 1995 The Burden of Tomorrow: Tempos and Time Spans in the Gitxsan and Witsuwit'en Land Rights Case. Paper at American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, Washington D.C., Nov. 15-19, 1995, invited session "Social Reproduction, Identity Politics and Community Viability. 1993 (With Antonia Mills). Ethics and objectivity: American Anthropological Association Principles of Responsibility Discredit Testimony. Anthropological Newsletter, Washington DC, November, 1993. 1990 Sto:lo: The River People, The Social Organization of the Sto:lo People of British Columbia. Opinion Evidence report for the Alliance of Tribal Councils, Vancouver. 3 vols. Plus genealogies. 1991 Review of "A Death Feast at Dimlahamid" by Terry Glavin. Canadian Ethnic Studies/Etudes ethniques du Canada XXIII(3):178-81. 1991 The Sound of One Hand Clapping: Narratives of Resistance in an Aboriginal Rights case. Paper presented at the Canadian Anthropological Society Annual Meetings, University of Western Ontario, May 9-12, 1991. 1989 Us and Them. Workshop presented to the board of the Legal Services Society of British Columbia, Hazelton, BC, October 13-14, 1990. 1988 Gitksan and Wetsuwet'en Economy and Society. Opinion Evidence for the Plaintiffs, in Delgamuukw et al. v. The Queen in the Right of the Province of British Columbia and the Attorney-General for Canada, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Case 0843, Smithers Registry. 691 pp.