“All of Our Secrets are in These Mountains”: Problematizing Colonial Power Relations, Tourism Productions and Histories of the Cultural Practices of Nakoda Peoples in the Banff-Bow Valley

  • Author / Creator
    Mason, Courtney Wade
  • This study examines some of the significant challenges that Nakoda peoples encountered from 1870-1980 in the Banff-Bow Valley, Alberta. Beginning with missionary movements, the 1877 Treaty Seven agreements and the establishment of the reservation systems, I trace the emergence of a disciplinary power regime and the subsequent consequences for Nakoda communities. Canadian governments and agents of the colonial bureaucracy manipulated time, space and movement which altered the structure of Aboriginal lives in ways that attempted to increase visibility, economic productivity and docility. Race as a normalizing and dividing practice (Foucault, 1975) is used to demonstrate how levels of discipline furthered assimilation strategies through the formation of Canada’s first national park and the development of the region’s tourism economies.
    As the preeminent example of the engagement of Nakoda peoples in local tourism industries, the Banff Indian Days sporting and cultural festivals, which were celebrated from 1894-1978, are also investigated. Borrowing from poststructural and postcolonial theory, the interactions between tourists, participants, organizers and performers are problematized. It is revealed that the festivals became critical sites of cultural exchange that engendered unique socio-economic, political and cultural opportunities. In addition, the Indian Days fostered important identity-making possibilities and crucial spaces to assert, contest, and produce perceptions of Aboriginal cultures.
    This research privileges information obtained from oral history interviews with Nakoda peoples. However, archival materials, mainly newspaper accounts, photographs, tourism advertisements, and government documents also contribute to the primary evidence collected. As well as analyzing racial discourse, this work also considers how Nakoda peoples responded to the representations and expectations that informed the production of Aboriginal identities. I conclude this study by suggesting that it is crucial for researchers to consult diverse Aboriginal perspectives and collaborate with the communities within which they work. This research offers new understandings of the cultural histories of the Banff-Bow Valley which reflect the dynamic and complex nature of colonial power relations.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • 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.