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Re-conceptualizing the traditional economy: indigenous peoples' participation in the nineteenth century fur trade in Canada and whaling industry in New Zealand Open Access


Other title
New Zealand
fur trade
Indigenous peoples
traditional economy
whaling industry
mixed economy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Parker, Leanna
Supervisor and department
Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)
Tough, Frank (Faculty of Native Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Samson, Jane (Department of History)
McWatters, Cheryl (Alberta School of Business)
Ray, Arthur J. (Professor Emeritus, History Department, University of British Columbia)
Department of Rural Economy and the Faculty of Native Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Contemporary resource use on Indigenous lands is not often well understood by the general public. In particular, there is a perception that “traditional” and commercial resource use are mutually exclusive, and therefore there is often an assumption that Indigenous communities are abandoning their traditional economy when they participate in the commercial sector of the larger regional economy. This perceived tension between traditional and commercial resource use is caused in part by a limited understanding of the participation of Indigenous peoples in commercial industries historically and the subsequent process of the commercialization of some aspects of Indigenous peoples’ pre-contact economies. This dissertation examines the seasonal cycle of activities and the patterns of consumption and production of the Indigenous peoples who participated in the fur trade at Ile a la Crosse in northwestern Saskatchewan and the whaling industry at the Otakou shore station in southern New Zealand. A systematic analysis of the daily journals and accounting records kept by company employees in these two regions demonstrate that participation in these industries allowed the Indigenous economies to be transformed from pre-contact times. While this participation did not completely subsume the Indigenous economies, the changes that were made created a need for the Indigenous people to continue accessing the European-style goods that had been incorporated into their livelihoods, a need that was exacerbated as local resources declined as a result of over-use. Thus, there is a need to re-conceptualize what is generally thought of as the “traditional economy.” The traditional economy in contemporary Indigenous communities is often perceived as an Indigenous approach to resource use that has changed little, except perhaps in the technology used, from pre-contact times. This dissertation, however, clearly demonstrates that participation in commercial industries historically encouraged the adaptation of Indigenous economies in response to changing opportunities and circumstances. It becomes clear then that the so-called “traditional economy” of today, is an Indigenous economy that has already been shaped and influenced by participation in historical commercial economies. Understanding the adaptability of Indigenous economies has important implications for economic development initiatives in Indigenous communities today.
License granted by Leanna Parker ( on 2011-01-31T22:02:21Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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