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After the Gold Rush. Staking a Claim in B.C.’s Market Economy. Lesson Objectives. To survey the changing social, political and economic landscape in B.C. To examine some of the ways in which Indigenous people responded to those changes

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staking a claim in b c s market economy

After the Gold Rush

Staking a Claim in B.C.’s Market Economy

lesson objectives
Lesson Objectives

To survey the changing social, political and economic landscape in B.C.

To examine some of the ways in which Indigenous people responded to those changes

To acknowledge the significant contributions of Indigenous labour to the development of B.C.

from colony to province
From Colony to Province
  • An era of sweeping, rapid changes to the cultural, political, and demographic landscape
  • Expansion and development of Garrisons into towns & cities
  • Expansion of colonial infrastructure
  • Expansion of market economy
  • Expansion of both European & non European immigrant population
the colonial economy
The Colonial Economy
  • Historic modes of production continue
  • Maritime fur trade well established
  • Indigenous peoples already mining coal (Nanaimo) and Gold (Fraser Canyon) on their territories for trade/export to Euro markets
  • Indigenous peoples already practicing horticulture & small – scale agriculture in Cowichan valley with much success
  • Feast systems continue as central organizing force, & becomes an important part of the new consumer economy
the new el dorado
The New “El Dorado”
  • 1851-2: Gold discovered in Haida Gwaii
  • 1858: Fraser River Rush
  • 1862: Cariboo Rush

Tens of thousands of European immigrants & others flooded Indigenous territories, displacing the people & disrupting their traditional economies

Many Indigenous people responded to this economic catastrophe by staking their own claims, working as wage labourers for placer miners, or as ferrymen, packers, & freighters. Food for mining camps was largely supplied by local Indigenous producers in the early years.

expanding empire
Expanding Empire
  • 1849: Vancouver Island becomes British Colony, governed by HBC
  • 1850 – 58: Britain signs Douglas Treaties
    • Recognized only winter village sites
    • Allowed only 10 acres of reserve land per family
  • 1860 Land Ordinance Act allowed pre-emption of lands by Euro Settlers
    • Pre-emption for Indians was a systemic ordeal that was rarely successful
  • Local unrest & altercations are quelled by increased military presence & retaliations
pernicious parliament
Pernicious Parliament
  • 1871: Annexation of B.C. by Canada allows the negation of Douglas Treaties & subsequent expropriation of Indigenous lands
  • Provincial legislation increasingly restricted Indian access to Crown land (4/5 of B.C.) & resources on that land (water, mineral, timber & grazing rights)
  • 1884: Amendments to the Indian Act around cultural prohibition were intended to undermine & ultimately destroy Indigenous economies & systems of governance
a strict law bids us dance
A Strict Law Bids Us Dance

Traditional Indigenous systems

of regulating economies, such as

Potlatch, continued “underground”

  • Used locations that were remote and/or inaccessible during inclement weather
  • Disguised ceremonies as Christmas celebrations/gifts
  • Created & used disposable regalia for secret ceremonies
  • Modified and/or condensed ceremonies to accommodate “western time” & to avoid detection
potlatch a gift to the merchant class
Potlatch:A Gift to the Merchant Class…

Indigenous peoples continue to contribute significantly to the market economy by purchasing vast amounts of consumer products for distribution in their feast systems

survivance
Survivance

More than just survival, Survivance is the continuity of lived cultural expression & practice in the face of continued, systemic oppression

  • Where possible, subsistence economies continued as usual well into the 20th C, despite increasing restrictions & access to land/resources
  • Indigenous peoples traded/sold traditional crafts, animal & plant products among themselves & settler populations, much as they always did
what built b c indian industry
What Built B.C.?... Indian Industry

Given that, at the 1881 census, Euro-settlers comprised only 1/5 of B.C.’s population and largely resided in the “core”, who was in the “periphery” building the infrastructure, extracting resources, & processing them for market?Mainly, Indigenous workers who…

  • Continued to Mine
    • coal in Nanaimo, Gold in the Fraser & Interior
  • Built the railway & road works
  • Took up Ranching in interior
    • Owner/operator, ranch hands, rodeo
  • Logged everywhere
    • Owner/operator, wage labour
  • Continued Farming
    • mission farms/rez farms/migrant workers
  • Became entrepreneurs
    • Cowichan sweaters, craftwork
  • Applied their Trades
    • Carpentry/cabinetry
    • Saddle/shoe making
    • Blacksmithing
  • Established the Native Press