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

  • Author / Creator
    Parker, Leanna
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Rural Economy and the Faculty of Native Studies
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Tough, Frank (Faculty of Native Studies)
    • Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Samson, Jane (Department of History)
    • McWatters, Cheryl (Alberta School of Business)
    • Ray, Arthur J. (Professor Emeritus, History Department, University of British Columbia)