Quebec Crees Inherent Right of Self-Government.
Quebec Crees Inherent Right of Self-Government.
Richard J. Preston
Recognizing that the Crees, like most other hunting cultures of the world, were traditionally what we term “stateless societies”, we can proceed directly to the question of how the Crees governed themselves. In particular, we will describe their traditional 1) political organization, 2) laws, 3) the social and cultural contexts where laws are applied, 4) the traditional form of leadership, whereby laws are articulated and applied.
1) Cree political organization
Political organization is based on the assumption that all human groups have some recognized leaders who appear to act on behalf of the group, and in this way are given political power. These leaders influence that aspect of social life that answers the questions of “Who gets what, when, and how.” The political scientist Harold Lasswell gave this classic definition in his book of that title (1935), and it is still currently used.
Fortunately, our first detailed historical document from James Bay includes “who gets what, when, and how” as it was seen at Waskaganish, at the mouth of the Rupert River, in the 1670s by Thomas Gorst, the Hudson’s Bay Company clerk on site.
The Indians of certain Districhs [sic], which are bounded by such and such Rivers, have each an Okimah, as they call him, or Captain over them, who is an Old Man, consider'd only for his Prudence and Experience. He has no Authority but what they think to give him upon certain Occasions. He is their Speech-maker to the English; as also in their own grave Debates, when they meet every Spring and Fall, to settle the Disposition of their Quarters for Hunting, Fowling, and Fishing. Every Family have their Boundaries adjusted, which they seldom quit, unless they have not Success there in their Hunting, and then they join in with some Family who have succeeded. (Oldmixon 1708, taken by him from the journal of Thomas Gorst,1670-1675; reprinted in Tyrrell 1931:381-382)
2) Cree traditional law.
Law is a system (whether it is written/codified or unwritten/traditional) of rules and guide-lines which are enforced through social actions and sanctions, to govern behavior. These actions or active processes include ethical attitudes (Speck 1933), spiritual convictions (Preston 2002), and negative sanctions that may result in case of persons whose behavior fails the standards of traditional ethical attitudes.
Our primary source for Cree law is Julius E. Lips, Naskapi Law.
[note: the terms Naskapi or Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi refer to most of the Algonquian-speaking Natives in the Quebec-Labrador peninsula, and this includes people of the present-day Cree Region of Quebec.]
Lips gathered statements from Crees during the 1930s and then researched the Hudson’s Bay Company archives for relevant statements in the post manager’s journals. Using both oral and written statements he was able to give a fair description of practices in the period 1820-1930.
[Note: Because he is important to this report, but little known in Canada, I will add that Lips was a professor of anthropology and comparative sociology of law at the University of Leipzig; and from 1949, its rector. He specialized in [aboriginal]c law and economic human sciences, with focus on different Indian tribes. After his death in 1950, his wife Dr. Eva Lips took over the publication of his works. I spoke with her in 1965, in Stuttgart, where I presented “Functional Politics in a Northern Canadian Community.” After his death, the Leipzig Institute received the name of Julius Lips Institute of Ethnology and Comparative Sociology of Law. His work is well-respected.]
In chapter 9 of Naskapi Law, titled “Crime and punishment”, and chapter 10 “Law enforcing agencies”, Lips categorizes the Crees as one of the societies that avoids the use of direct physical punishment whenever possible and emphasizes instead the use of moral force. Lips covers the main categories of morally forceful negative sanctions with instructive examples. By including the Cree examples with his attitude of academic detachment and without value judgement, he gives the dignity of distance to the Native categories of gossip, loss of self-respect, loss of the respect of others, diminished sharing of resources and access to resources, sorcery, shunning, and expulsion or even execution. For an example of his objectivity, I wish to note that rather than balk at the notion of sorcery as a materially effective sanction, Lips can appreciate the moral force for traditional Crees of fear of sorcery.
[Note: For a detailed example of a traditional story from Fort George that contributes to the fear of sorcery, see George Head, Gerti Diamond, and Dick Preston. “Kawichkushu (“Louse”) and Pikawgami (“Wide Lake”)” In, Brian Swann (ed) Algonquian Spirit: Contemporary Translations of the Algonquian Literatures of North America. University of Nebraska Press. 2005.]
In “Crimes against the Public Order” Lips says
…if the peace of the community is disturbed – and the maintenance of this peace is fundamental – the community will act to enforce the peace. The habitual peace breaker, the constant trouble maker, the incorrigible thief, the chronic quarreler, people who habitually hunt on the land of others, are punished by the community by expulsion…The culprit is expelled from the protective shelter of the band; his hunting ground is no longer respected; his life is made miserable, since he is shunned by his fellow human beings… (469)
On physical punishment, Lips says,
The following kinds of punishment have been reported: execution by shooting or drowning, as in the case of murder; [or] tying to a tree…Degrading punishment and imprisonment, in our sense, are unknown, unless we consider the tying to a tree as an equivalent to imprisonment. The offender tied to a tree …is not considered morally outlawed. He is looked down upon only then if such punishment reoccurs too often. A man tied to a tree…stands with his arms hanging down; the rope is tied all around his body and arms. Any tree can be used which is strong enough for the purpose. (471)
On public opinion as a law-enforcing agency, Lips says:
Public opinion is indeed an agency to enforce customary law of simpler societies and, among them, that of the Naskapi. For the Montagnais-Naskapi the maintenance of the peace of the community is fundamental and the strongest preventative against violation of the peace is public opinion….It works not only preventatively but also punitively and it also asserts itself when the peace of he community has been violated….Once public opinion is aroused, it then has a totalitarian meaning because it is the opinion of the whole band, which in contrast to the multiple class opinions of modern civilizations, is a singe class community with the same mutual problems, interests, and necessities. Primitive opinion in such a society is, therefore, much more poignant and, indeed, more forceful than any expression of public opinion could possibly be in our modern civilization with its divided interests…The following case of the Indian Camatuet as recorded by Richard Hardisty in the Mistassini Report for the year 1828-1829…It was public opinion which treated him as an outcast; his life was made so miserable for him that he decided to leave his band, or at least, to trade at another post…Up to then, pubic opinion acted merely in a passive way…not with expulsion…the individual must turn to his neighbors in times of need, as in cases of illness, poor hunting luck or unfortunate weather conditions, not only the security of his possessions but his very life depends on the attitude of the community towards him. (471-472)
And finally, on the role of the fear of sorcery, Lips says:
In my opinion, the position of the shaman is more that of an attorney or champion than that of a judge…The shaman does not administer justice, neither does he pronounce or execute sentence. All this is the task of the “court” of spirits which, however, stands to a higher degree under the influence and the ability of the shaman…Certainly the proportion of cases turned over to the shaman is by far larger than that turned over to either of the other agencies. Since hunting is the center point of all Montagnais-Naskapi life these disputes mainly deal with infringements of the hunting rights and the hunting grounds…There exists, however, no obligation on the part of the shaman to warn the offender…In many cases...such warnings are sufficient to scare the offender into settlement. (477)
Lips gives ample stories of this kind of sanctioning, but does not follow up with discussion on the preventative power of fear of sorcery. I will speak to this, below.
Frank G. Speck sojourned in the region for brief periods between 1908 and 1935, and has summarized the attitudes that motivate both the positive and negative sanctions, especially in his 1933 article on ethical attitudes.
They are primary in pattern, since, through the intimate association of individuals…the social fusion of kin results in producing a community whole within which there is a tendency toward harmony and the most thorough-going cooperation. Strife is scarcely present; violence strenuously avoided; competition even courteously disdained. These, they think, lead to ridicule. In their place are met subjection of self, generosity in respect to property, service and opinion, the qualities which we often speak of as being found in “good sports,” and which seem to develop as social habits. And these are the qualities that to them represent honor and a welcome place in the thoughts of their associates. (p.559)
And with regard to persons whose actions fail to meet these ideals, Speck says:
The treatment of individuals who have done minor injury to others and become obnoxious seems to be that of patience or temporary indifference. In every band there are met those whose status…is that of the undesirable…Their relatives are often ashamed of them. Being avoided, they forfeit the satisfaction of friendship; hence this becomes their punishment…and should resentment lead the ostracized [person] to further deeds…he may…ultimately…become a social outcast…If he becomes morose, it is worse for him, and he make take steps to get even…and finally be murdered. (p.565-566)
Speck follows with many cases to illustrate his point, with sections subtitled “Attitude toward Life and Hardship, Regard for Life, Abandoning Aged, Attitude toward Women and Children, Honesty, Veracity, Arrogance, Solitude, Altruism, Revenge, Temperance, Cooperation and Hospitality, Cannibalism, and Attitude Toward Social Circumstances.” Throughout, his position and examples are quite consistent with what Julius Lips has written, and with my own opinions.
In three books and many articles Dr. Toby Morantz followed Lips in very thoroughly researching the Hudson’s Bay Company archives, and I have recorded extensive oral tradition that can be – has been – seen as case law. There are many other authorities on Quebec Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi traditional sanctions.
3) The social and cultural context for the learning, embodying, teaching, and enforcement of norms: the family.
Cree traditional social relations and shared understandings were similar throughout the James Bay region. They concerned hunting-trapping families whose primary home locus was their ecological range, the series of places deemed desirable for the hunting of each of several species that were expected to be found at particular times and locations. This range of locations constituted their respective family hunting grounds, except for a summer gathering time near a trading post. In the bush setting, each family was a portable, personal, life cycle micro-community (Preston 1975). What we as scholars conceptualize as autonomy was primarily to be found at the level of this small community, where each of two to perhaps thirty individuals became a self-consciously self-regulating member of a mobile family group (Preston 1980).
It will be helpful to consider the meaning of the word “primarily” in the preceding sentence. What about individual autonomy, especially in a hunting culture where so much is “left up to the individual” in instrumental, social, and spiritual actions? What kind of self-consciousness did these hunters and other members of their families have? What sense of identity as persons or as families?
I am convinced that the “traditional” or “bush-centred” Cree sense of individual identity was more “bred in the bone” than fully articulated. People were born into their family group, in their environment, with minimal “outside” influences, and from this basis people matured their sense of who they were, including their spiritual basis for guiding their intentions and actions.
Autonomy in this tenuous and ultimately mysterious world is achieved primarily, then, at the level of the coordinated activities of a family, where each can contribute responsibly to sustaining the group. Together a man and a woman not only make the nurturing of children possible but also allow the hunter to focus his time, energy, and concentration on the hunt and his wife to maintain the hearth, the safety of children and the infirm, and the composure of the community. But gender roles were not rigid. A man could be a midwife; a woman could hunt to sustain her family (Preston 1982; 1986). During periods of food scarcity, their mutually complementary roles sometimes proved to be of life-and-death importance. At less dire times, it was a practical and congenial way to live well.
Cree family autonomy was gradually eroded by colonial influences, though living in the bush protected the family for most of the year. Then, after the spring breakup of the ice on the rivers that were Cree highways, the Crees gathered for a week or longer at the trading post. There the men of the families brought their furs to the trading post manager, exchanging them for supplies for the coming winter. And with their families, they enjoyed the excitement of socializing in the brief summer community of many families whom they had not seen for nearly a year, totalling as many as a few hundred people. These summering groups were called “bands” by Canadian government administrators and usually named after the location of the trading post. While this larger summer community was also recognized and named by its members, the family was still the primary locus of identity and loyalty. For the most part, the family locus was also the view of the fur traders and missionaries. Only government personnel thought of the band as the primary social unit until well into the twenty-first century. (Preston 2008)
4) The social and cultural context for the learning, embodying, teaching, and enforcement of norms: community at a level larger than the individual family. The agency of traditional government that maintains peace, fairness and good order in the family and between families is the headman/okima.
[Note: As we move into the ways that the primary practical and ethical concerns with
family security, composure and well-being may be found in the supra-family level of
community, I would mention that I am speaking from 50 years’ research focus on
East Crees and over 100 authored papers on East Cree topics. I am not a Cree elder, and I
do not claim to have achieved a true cultural-historical view (nor would a Cree
elder), but I do have well-considered opinions on the topic. The work of Lips, Speck,
Morantz and others are consistent with my own opinions; there is a clear and consistent
theme in both oral and written traditions.]
Social composure and coordination was obtained through the consensus of people in following the example, or the suggestions, or sometimes the more explicit leadership directives of capable individuals, or Okima. These leaders played their role against the backdrop of a strongly egalitarian ethic. While differences of temperament and ability were common knowledge, gradations of social, economic, and spiritual competence were usually kept unspoken, to lessen either the pride of a leader or the humiliation of those who follow the leader’s direction. In a context of environmental fluctuations that humans could scarcely adapt to without difficulty and periodic hardship (Preston 2002), few individuals would have been likely to feel bold enough to risk a publicly outspoken claim to leadership.
As a compromise, leadership might be acknowledged as limited by a specific task at hand and by the duration of that one task. So we have records of trading 'chiefs' and goose hunt 'chiefs' and caribou hunt 'chiefs' and so on, serving to coordinate the activities of others as a specific task group leader. But some men were more quietly ambitious and capable in many tasks, and through a synthesis of social, technological and spiritual abilities, set themselves up with more enduring authority, continuing unless repeated failure of their ability meant a loss of "followership." The fur trade brought new claims to authority, but these European “bosses” were fairly easily recognized in terms of comparison to the Cree traditional leaders. They were bosses of the trading post and the trade goods.
Fortunately, as quoted at the beginning of this report, we have a very early statement of an Okima allocating the extent of recognized hunting areas. For the Mushkegowuk region, at least, major river drainages apparently defined districts within which groups dispersed and aggregated according to seasonal shifts in hunting strategies and probably also for event-specific gatherings for feasts after a very successful hunt by one hunting group.
It is probably only within these larger districts that people may say "I can hunt wherever I want to" as a social rather than a literal comment (Preston 1986:14), and the claim is surely moderated by the traditional hunting ethics, as communicated in the "grave debates" and given consensual statement by the Okima (see also Honigmann 1956:64). If the "wherever I want to" statement is made with reference to another of these large districts, the speaker may be rationalizing his desire to trespass on people less closely related to him.
In times of famine, however, boundaries are suspended for the sake of survival, and people would be expected to move constantly, wherever they wanted to, and for as great a distance as necessary to find food, and with the expectation that no one would oppose them in this search, and more successful families would take in the desperately needy.
Perhaps the Okimah is, in effect, sharing out the food resources that he, as best his wisdom and experience can tell, expects to be found in the various places of this region, in the coming season. People listen to his judgment, and normally find their consensus within it. If his expectations prove wrong, and a family is starving, they will not be bound to their area, but rather will find another family whose fortune has been better, and live with them.
The people at that time also had a good, indeed traditional, idea of trade with other Indians in the Great Lakes region and with Europeans on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence. We can suggest a parallel between the Okimah's knowledge of the food animals, that allows him to successfully share them out for the coming season, and the Okimah's knowledge of managing trade relationships so that his group will get their good measure of goods in exchange for the furs and food they are giving. If his expectations in trading are not realized at the Hudson’s Bay post, he might take his group to the French next time. His role as a trading "Captain", as the Europeans named it, was not so strange or radically different as some might think, then, since it was similar in its leadership requirements to other aspects of leadership. What was different was the European personal style, motives, and notions of reciprocity and value.
Traditionally, and still, there is a tacit, political hierarchy of competence. Almost everyone knows who is better at hunting some kinds of food, or who can decide quickly and act well in a potential conflict situation. So, almost everyone knows that some ochimow/okima "bosses" (hunting group leaders or whiteman leaders) are better than others, and their guidance is looked to.
Leadership is a matter of having proven competence, and then a matter of follower-ship…power is not enforceable, but rather is given by the followers. Political organization, then, is voluntary, consensual, and sanctioned positively by success and negatively by failure not only of the hunt, but also of directing and keeping composure in social relations. In my paper, Reticence and Self-expression: a study of style in social relationships (1976), I define and discuss Cree competence, and that is the basis on which Cree political power is gained, exercised, or lost.
The okima term was shifted by the old time Crees to European bosses, managers of the posts and managers of the missions, and then to other managers. So the term refers to missionaries such as Reverend John Horden at Moose Factory, and Fort George’s Reverend William Walton (1869-1948), whose personal power was enough so that after he left, there is the story of a man coming drunk to a dance, and two men taking him by the arms and escorting him out. Perhaps the most extreme orders came when Rev. Walton ordered an end to drumming and conjuring, probably enforced by Cree catechists, and this was mostly obeyed throughout the region. When I visited Fort George in the 1960s, older people only recalled hearing of drumming and conjuring tents, and asked me about these things. Old men who recorded their conjuring stories and hunting songs for me just tapped on some object, not a drum.
I asked someone at Fort George why Walton's influence was felt strongly into the 1960s.
He came and baptized us, he learned Cree and preached to us in Cree, and he baptized our children. If he believed something and knew we would not like it, he would say it anyway.
Walton was respected, then, for his integrity. And for his power, spiritual and moral.
And then there is the spiritual, mysterious and “sense of entitlement” side, including sorcery: “If he can do that, how much else might he be able to do?” Conjurors, or suspected conjurors may exploit the fear of their followers. Wemindji’s Geordie Georgekish was an Anglican catechist and, for some, also a suspected conjuror, Reverend William Walton had more than personal integrity; he had spiritual power. People believed that baptism was a protection against sorcery.
Cree leaders have been in documentary evidence since the English arrived in 1670, when a leader named Cuscadidah was in charge. And 20th century examples include Old Chief John Napash at Fort George in the 50s, Chief Malcolm Diamond at Rupert's House in the 60s, and his son Billy Diamond in the 70s, who then moved to Native New Life religion, then to healing circles. At Moose Factory, John Fletcher, John Mark, Canon Sam Iserhoff, Canon Redfern Louttit.
So we now have a start on what particular influential individuals embodied as moral authorities. The next step is how leaders and their community decide to respond to people who choose to not comply with the leader’s guidance: negative sanctions. There are situations that call for direct orders; when an okima gave direct and blunt orders to a member of his community and the person so ordered was expected to obey. In one traditional story of a starvation winter, a Hudson’s Bay Company man was sent to live with a hunting group, and finally felt that he could not keep up, collapsed and told the Crees to leave him to die. But the exhausted whiteman was not allowed to give up. The okima told him, “It is not your decision; I am responsible for you. Now get up.”
In less desperate circumstances, a hunting boss may order others and expect immediate compliance. It is simple to see that any individual acting on his own, starting to shoot, may spoil the hunt for the group.
So the eternal tension between individual autonomy and social responsibility may shift toward prohibition of what is deemed unacceptable (incest, homicide…) or shift toward acceptance of deviant behavior that interferes with the autonomy of others but does not get a strong reaction. (See my Interference and its Consequences 1991b)
Respect relations are the ideal that people try to maintain. It’s inverse is humiliation. What gets a strong and enduring negative reaction is public humiliation (Louis B v George F), where “everyone knows what you did.” The fear of a feeling of shame is, for most people, the most common traditional reason to act responsibly. Only fools and some powerful old men believe that they can do whatever they want to, and not care about what everybody thinks.
In summary, my answer to your query, “in what contexts would these roles or social norms be imposed?” depends on whether the person is considered to be emotionally able to choose between right and wrong. Speaking now from my own experience, Cree individuals may become damaging to their community in the context of being:
1- emotionally out of control, where the sanctions range from
a) adroit persuasion without humiliation, as MD with a drunken Edw B, and later MD with MW wading into the river, but if persuasion is not effective, then
b) physical restraint of violent actions, as with Sol E being covered with canvas and nailed to the floor, or the Nemiska woman who was tied to a log and left to freeze, or the man who was hit in the head with an axe, through the tipi covering,
c) escape in a panic by running away from community, perhaps in fear of sorcery (as with Winnie E and later with Sophie D - “flight hysteria” – when people try to go after them to bring them back before they die of exposure),
d) becoming hostile toward one or more people (as with the spoiling of the Hannah Bay post in 1832, with the murder of the manager Jacob C and his wife and servants. This came from a clash of wills between a Cree conjuror with a starving family, and an old Hudson’s Bay Company manager.
e) in the extremity of becoming mythically monstrous (wiitiko)
2- not emotionally out of control, but acting in ways that are apparently indifferent to the damaging consequences of their actions. This person may be
a) taken to the bush to regain their realization that friends are a necessity, and therefore so is social responsibility (Davey C’s wi), or the young Wemindji man strategically “lost” in the bush, then found, or
b) may be reported to the police (Old D) where the risk of interfering with a powerful person makes local control a problem and outside authority a good solution
c) selfishness leading to disrespect such as trespass, and even injury, may be punished by threats of sorcery (JBs kids)
d) shunning by withdrawal of recognition (Charlie D faces Stuart S) (men living at the edge of the village, Robert P unable to get a wife) and even men winging a rock at Willie J. Having no relatives is being vulnerable. Shunning may extend to refusing to aid people in distress.
e) Threats of sorcery (Malcolm W, Willie W, flight hysteria) Here we can say that the power of the sorcerer is in the fear of his or her potential victims. Dr. Lips mentions little beyond sorcery being the most common negative sanction, and so, as I said at the beginning of this report, I would like to briefly explain the power of the sorcerer. The stories of sorcery are numerous, the consequences severe, and usually are in support of community morality and in punishment of a person who has broken the rules. It is at the root of the single reported case of cannibalism that Speck refers to [note: but even here the tangible proof is lacking in the complete story that I have recorded]. But if the cannibalism is uncertain, the sorcery is not. The accused gave a minimal acceptance of the accusation, and was sent to a distant post, where he eventually managed to have a family, some of whose descendants have been exemplary leaders in this new community.
f) Killing the offending person, though I have this information only in oral tradition.
5) Conclusion: With regard to the first question put to me by Deborah Hawken, I have the highest level of confidence in making my affirmative answer. Yes, the Crees of James Bay did historically have a system of leadership with the authority to impose rules or social norms. This is borne out by a substantial collection of both oral tradition and written statements dating from the 1670s, from which I have selected relevant examples for this report.
With regard to the second question put to me by Deborah Hawken, “If so, in what contexts would these roles or social norms be imposed?” I have summarized the expert opinions of a German scholar of comparative law and an American ethnologist, both of who spent research time in Cree communities during the early decades of the 20th century. The wide range of contexts (from minor to major harm to members of the community) and the range of community responses (using minimal humiliation, in actions from pointed disregard up to ostracism or even “measured violence”) to violations of Cree norms of conduct are similar in these expert reports, and are consistent with the findings of many scholarly writings and recordings of oral accounts, including my own.
In summary, I affirm the Crees traditional leadership, authority, and effective preventive and/or punishing sanctions of actions that offend the norms and damage the community.
Dr. Richard J. Preston, Professor emeritus, McMaster University, 18 January 2013
[Note: On “measured violence”: The Crees are traditional hunters, whose abilities in killing animals are fundamental to survival. Their use of violence, then, is skilled and proportional to the task at hand. I offer the following anecdote as illustrative of this sense of proportion. It was told me by a former RCMP officer.
RCMP to offended husband: Why didn’t you shoot him good while you were at it? “I aim for the foot; I hit the foot.” (thereby limiting an adulterer’s mobility, physically but also psychologically)]
Women leaders? An addendum.
Dr. John Long pointed out that there was no mention of women's authority. So I have still to write this addendum.
Here I was, blithely following in the gender-biased footsteps of the old boys, like Lips, Speck and others. But where can anyone find a solution to this bias? Ellen Smallboy and Regina's words do not seem, in my memory, to address this matter of what we now call "political power" and I do not have any idea who does. So I asked the experts, both retired professors and both women scholars. The question remains moot. It is worth noting that the documentary evidence is from the fur trade, and men were the primary fur harvesters and traders.
Dr. Jennifer Brown is the most likely authority on the role of Cree women, having long since published Strangers in Blood, documenting the pivotal role of the Native wives of fur traders. In terms of the bridging between Cree and Scots-English culture, these women were surely the leaders. She replied to my inquiry:
A good question you ask. I think contemporary Cree women are taking on quite a bit of political authority—e.g., the Attawapiskat chief at present. But I think the reason for a shortage of sources historically on the women carrying much public political authority is, that they usually didn’t in the past. This doesn’t square with the ideals some people have about the Cree past, but it’s my sense from reading and observing, over time. They had familial and domestic power, and after menopause, could be respected elders, but beforehand were subject to ceremonial and other restrictions around blood, etc., which might be seen as a form of power, but which barred them from various roles.
The other authority is ethnohistorian of the James Bay Crees, Dr. Toby Morantz, whose command of the James Bay archives of the Hudson’s Bay Company is unequalled. While her interest is more a general ethnohistory of the Crees, she would have any relevant documents in mind. She replied to my inquiry:
I have always explained it to students in terms of men having power in the public domain and women in the private domain, that is home. And of what we say here “behind every great man ….” In my recent Inuit research the HBC occasionally mentions a wife of someone as being strong minded but no further than that. I am also aware that what we have gleaned from the HBC or govt records does not give us the full rounded picture of life. I remember that in Regina’s account of Ellen Smallboy she mentions that her father-in-law helped look after her children. I was surprised to read this. Makes sense but there is no portrayal of the domestic side of men just as there is no portrayal of women speaking out about an issue. As in other societies, surely women, especially the post- menopausal ones gave their opinion as to where they should travel, whom they should allow in their local group, with whom they should trade when they had a choice and other political issues. However, all this happened far from the view of the HBC manager – and even if he did know it was it worth recording? We do not usually even learn who all the influential Cree men were. Of course, once Indian Affairs got involved and helping the Crees organize themselves to select an Indian Act leader, it was only the men who lined up and likely decided by IAB (but then the women in quebec did not have the vote until 1944) – as in this quote I took from the copy of the ms. (Whiteman…) that I have on the computer: “Rupert House did not have its first election for band chief and council until 1946. It was arranged by the Indian agent. There was no ballot; instead, each adult male lined up behind the nominated candidate whom he favoured (Kerr 1950:85). Then at Mistassini, this:
Only men voted in the elections, but in the 1950s the Mistassini Crees thought that, “since a woman is now the British queen....women should also vote.” (Rogers 1963:25). And this: in my introductory chapter:” The oral tradition, on the other hand, much of it by women, speaks to community interests with little attention to distinguishing men or women or drawing out gender-specific concerns.”
Cree Politics and Law References
Lips, Julius 1947 Naskapi Law (Lake St. John and Lake Mistassini Bands Law and Order in a Hunting Society. Trans. American Philosophical Society. Pp. 381-419.
Preston, Richard J. 2010a Cree community, identity, and spirituality: further reflections on a century of transformations. 42nd Conference on Algonquian Studies. St. John’s.
2010b James Bay Cree respect relations within the Great Community of Persons. In, Joam Evans Pim, (ed.) Nonkilling Societies. Centre for Global Nonkilling. P 271-289.
2010c Transformations in Quebec Cree community, identity, and spirituality. Cris et Inuit du Nord du Quebec Territoire, economie, societe et culture. Edited by Jaques-Guy Petit, Yv Bonnier Viger, Pita Aatami, et Ashley Iserhoff. Presses de Universite d Quebec, pp 385-399.
2009 Twentieth Century Transformations of East Cree Spirituality and Autonomy. In Mario Blaser et al, Indigenous Peoples and Autonomy: Insights for a Global Age. University of British Columbia Press. Pp 131-
2008 Twentieth century transformations of Native identity, citizenship, power and
authority. In, D. Brydon, and W. Coleman (eds) Globalization, Autonomy, and
Community. University of British Columbia Press. Chapter 3.
2005 George Head, Gerti Diamond, and Dick Preston. “Kawichkushu (“Louse”) and
Pikawgami (“Wide Lake”)” In, Brian Swann (ed) Algonquian Spirit: Contemporary Translations of the Algonquian Literatures of North America. University of Nebraska Press.
2002a Crees and Algonquins at the front: more on 20th century transformations. In, J. D.
Nichols (ed.) Papers of the 34th Conference on Algonquian Studies.
2002b Cree Narrative: Expressing the Personal Meanings of Events. Second edition.
McGill-Queen’s University Press. 302 pages
2001 James Bay Cree culture, malnutrition, infectious and degenerative diseases. In, J. D. Nichols
(ed.) Papers of the 32nd Conference on Algonquian Studies.
1991a Dying and Grieving in Cross-Cultural Perspective: An East Cree example. R. J. and S.C. Preston, In D. & D. Counts (eds.) Coping with the Final Tragedy: Cultural Variations in Grieving and Dying. Baywood Press. 135-155.
1991b Interference and its Consequences: An East Cree Variant of Deviance? In R. Brymer (ed.), Deviance in Cross- Cultural Perspective. Anthropologica, Special Issue, 33: 69-80.
1991c It's Up to the Individual? Whiteman Science vs Native Science. Paper read at the 23rd Conference on Algonquian Studies, London, Ont.
l990a The View from the Other Side of the Frontier. In W. Cowan (ed) Papers of the 21st Algonquian Conference, Carleton University, Ottawa. 3l3-328.
1990b Hunting Where We Please: Land, Territories, Ethics and Treaties in the Mushkegowuk Region, Ontario. Paper read at the Ontario Sociology & Anthropology Association, Brock University.
1986a Twentieth Century Transformations of the West Coast Cree. In W. Cowan, Actes du 17eme Congres des Algonquinistes. Ottawa: Carleton University, pp. 239-251.
1986b Reflections on Territoriality, In T. Morantz, (ed.) Who Owns the Beaver? A Re-examination of Northern Algonquian Land Tenure Systems Then and Now. Anthropologica XVIII(1-2), 11-18.
1985 Recent Developments in Eastern Cree Leadership. McMaster University, TASO Report No. 20.
1983 Some Continuities in Algonquian Leadership. Paper read at the 15th Conference on Algonquian Studies, Cambridge, MA.
1981 East Main Cree, in J. Helm, The Subarctic, Volume 6, Handbook of North American Indians. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, pp. 196-207.
1980a Eastern Cree Notions of Social Grouping. In W. Cowan, Papers of the 11th Algonquian Conference. Ottawa: Carleton University, pp. 40-48.
1980b The Witigo: Algonquian Knowledge and Whiteman Knowledge, in M. Halpin and M. Ames, Manlike Monsters on Trial: Early Records and Modern Evidence. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, pp. 111-131.
1980c The Ethic of Non-Interference and the James Bay Agreement. Paper read at the 7th Congress, Canadian Ethnology Society, Montreal.
1979a The Development of Self-Control in the Eastern Cree Life Cycle, in K. Ishwaran, Childhood and Adolescence in Canada. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, pp. 93-96.
1979b Community Default and Personal Disintegration: An Eastern Cree Example. McMaster University.
1976 Reticence and Self-Expression: A Study of Style in Social Relationships. In W. Cowan, Papers of the 7th Algonquian Conference. Ottawa: Carleton University, pp. 450-494.
1975a Belief in the Context of Rapid Change: An Eastern Cree Example. In C. Hill, Symbols and Society: Essays on Belief Systems in Action. University of Georgia Press, pp. 117-129.
1975b Eastern Cree Community in Relation to Fur Trade Post in the 1830s: The Background of the "Posting" Process, in W. Cowan, Proceedings of the 6th Algonquian Conference. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, Paper in Ethnology, No. 23, pp. 324-335.
1968a When Leadership Fails: The Basis of a Community Crisis. The Northland 24:7-9.
1968b Functional PoIitics in a Northern Canadian Community. Proceedings of the 38th International Congress of Americanists 3:169-178.
Speck, Frank G.
1933 Ethical attitudes of the Labrador Indians. American Anthropologist 35:559-594.