The Colonization of Mi'kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy

By William C. Wicken

© 2012

In 1927, Gabriel Sylliboy, the Grand Chief of the Mi'kmaw of Atlantic Canada, was charged with trapping muskrats out of season. At appeal in July 1928, Sylliboy and five other men recalled conversations with parents, grandparents, and community members to explain how they understood a treaty their people had signed with the British in 1752. Using this testimony as a starting point, William Wicken traces Mi'kmaw memories of the treaty, arguing that as colonization altered Mi'kmaw society, community interpretations of the treaty changed as well.

The Sylliboy case was part of a broader debate within Canada about Aboriginal peoples' legal status within Confederation. In using the 1752 treaty to try and establish a legal identity separate from that of other Nova Scotians, Mi'kmaw leaders contested federal and provincial attempts to force their assimilation into Anglo-Canadian society. Integrating matters of governance and legality with an exploration of historical memory, The Colonization of Mi'kmaw Memory and History offers a nuanced understanding of how and why individuals and communities recall the past.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Integrating matters of governance and legality with an exploration of historical memory, The Colonization of Mi'kmaw Memory and History offers a nuanced understanding of how and why individuals and communities recall the past.

The Colonization of Mi'kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy

By William C. Wicken

© 2012

In 1927, Gabriel Sylliboy, the Grand Chief of the Mi'kmaw of Atlantic Canada, was charged with trapping muskrats out of season. At appeal in July 1928, Sylliboy and five other men recalled conversations with parents, grandparents, and community members to explain how they understood a treaty their people had signed with the British in 1752. Using this testimony as a starting point, William Wicken traces Mi'kmaw memories of the treaty, arguing that as colonization altered Mi'kmaw society, community interpretations of the treaty changed as well.

The Sylliboy case was part of a broader debate within Canada about Aboriginal peoples' legal status within Confederation. In using the 1752 treaty to try and establish a legal identity separate from that of other Nova Scotians, Mi'kmaw leaders contested federal and provincial attempts to force their assimilation into Anglo-Canadian society. Integrating matters of governance and legality with an exploration of historical memory, The Colonization of Mi'kmaw Memory and History offers a nuanced understanding of how and why individuals and communities recall the past.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘The Colonization of Mi’kmaw should be on the reading list of historians, social scientists, and members of the general reading public interested in grasping the dynamics of Canada’s colonial and Aboriginal histories.’


    Simone Poliandri
    Canadian Historical Review vol 94:02:2013

    ‘The psychological lens Wicken uses to examine motives in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brings valuable context to anyone wishing to better understand this period in Nova Scotia History. It is an innovative and fruitful direction for future research.’
    Julie Zatzman
    he Canadian Journal of Native Studies vol 34:01:2014
  • Author Information

    William Wicken is an associate professor in the department of history at York University.

  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    PART ONE: Why the Men Testified
    1. Accounting for Alex Gillis's Actions: the Mi'kmaq in rural society
    2. Why Nova Scotia Prosecuted Gabriel Sylliboy
    3. Moving to Appeal: Mi'kmaw and Government Motivations

    PART TWO: How the Men Remembered
    4. Parents, Grandparents, and Great Grandparents 1794-1853
    5. Childhood and Young Adulthood, 1850s-1880s

    PART THREE: Why the Men Remembered
    6. The Demography of Mi'kmaw Communities, 1871-1911
    7. Moving into the City: The King's Road Reserve and the Politics of Relocation
    Conclusion

    Appendix: The Federal and DIA Censuses, 1871-1911
    Tables

    Endnotes
    Bibliography

  • Awards

    Aboriginal History Book Prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association - Runner-up in 2013
    Clio Prize (Atlantic) awarded by the Canadian Historical Association - Winner in 2013
    John A. Macdonald Prize awarded by the Canadian Historical Association - Winner in 2013
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