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History Native American

The Burden of History

Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community

by (author) Elizabeth Furniss

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2000
Native American, Native American Studies, Post-Confederation (1867-), British Columbia (BC), General, General, Discrimination & Race Relations
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2000
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 1999
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2007
    List Price

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This book is an ethnography of the cultural politics of Native/non-Native relations in a small interior BC city -- Williams Lake -- at the height of land claims conflicts and tensions. Furniss analyses contemporary colonial relations in settler societies, arguing that 'ordinary' rural Euro- Canadians exercise power in maintaining the subordination of aboriginal people through 'common sense' assumptions and assertions about history, society, and identity, and that these cultural activities are forces in an ongoing, contemporary system of colonial domination. She traces the main features of the regional Euro-Canadian culture and shows how this cultural complex is thematically integrated through the idea of the frontier. Key facets of this frontier complex are expressed in diverse settings: casual conversations among Euro-Canadians; popular histories; museum displays; political discourse; public debates about aboriginal land claims; and ritual celebrations of the city's heritage.


In each setting, Furniss shows how these cultural practices contribute to the marginalization of area Shuswap [Sepwecemc], Tsilhqot'in [Chilcotin], and Carrier peoples, and how area Native people are continually engaging in diverse and innovative modes of resistance to the dominant regional culture.

About the author

Elizabeth Furniss was until recently an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Calgary.

Elizabeth Furniss' profile page

Editorial Reviews

This book, a study of cultural politics in Williams Lake, British Columbia, is an admirable exponent of this reinvention of ethnography ... the book is a refreshing portrait of diversity both within and between the aboriginal and nonaboriginal communities, and the variety of views represented shows the complexity of the issues within their proper historical and cultural contexts.

CBRA 4210

Provides a deep examination of Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian relations in the city of Williams Lake, British Columbia. I recommend this book to those concerned with British Columbia, the culture of the frontier in North America, or the relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.

Environment and Planning A 2000, Volume 32