Putting it back together : Micmac political identity in Newfoundland

Anger, Dorothy C.(Dorothy Catherine) (1983) Putting it back together : Micmac political identity in Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The Micmac Indians of Newfoundland, over the past ten years, have been engaged in a process of political and cultural renaissance. Having no defined legal Indian status, and with loss of their traditional social and cultural systems, they are using their history in conjunction with political activism to define their place in a province in which there are no registered Indians. -- This study examines the historical evolution of this cultural resurgence. Three related themes which underlie their actions also underlie the material presented in this thesis. The first is persistence of Indian identity despite, and perhaps because of, its stigmatisation. The second is a hermeneutic understanding of history which allows the past to act on the present in the self-conscious re-creation of a viable tradition. The third is association with pan-Indianism which transforms Indian identity from stigma to a source of pride. -- The theoretical framework understands politicisation of identity as discursive action, and formulates it in terms of 'renaissance' and 'revitalisation.' Renaissance applies to the reflexive use of a sense of peoplehood and the cultural foundations which support it. Revitalisation is the articulation of renaissance - the pragmatic strategies of survival and development by which a people alter or maintain their cultural whole. -- The first chapter introduces the people, their history, and the theoretical and ethnographic frameworks. The second chapter is a history of the Micmacs in Newfoundland from settlement of the island the time of Confederation. In Chapter 3, their history since 1949 and political development are discussed. Chapter 4 examines identity as communicative action and interpretation of history, illustrated by recent issues in Canadian native politics. The fifth chapter discusses the complexities of native identity in Newfoundland caused by the conflicting forces of stigmatisation and revitalisation. The concluding chapter examines the interplay of renaissance and revitalisation in terms of the value and utility of politicised symbols of cultural tradition. -- This thesis focuses on the interplay of history and political pragmatism in the development and maintenance of cultural identity. The Micmacs are working toward practical objectives in an often hostile environment but, more importantly to them, they are seeking a way of life coming out of their history.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7827
Item ID: 7827
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 260-279.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Anthropology
Date: 1983
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Micmac Indians; Indians of North America--Newfoundland and Labrador

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