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Gender and politics in a Carrier Indian community Fiske, Jo-Anne 1989

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GENDER AND POLITICS IN A CARRIER INDIAN COMMUNITY By JO-ANNE FISKE B.Ed., The University of British Columbia 1969 M.A., The University of British Columbia 1981 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Anthropology and Sociology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1989 © Jo-Anne Fiske, 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of A n t h r o p o l o g y The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada September 2 5 , 1989 Date DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T This thesis presents a study of the political processes of Stoney Creek, Saik'uz, a Carrier Indian community in British Columbia. The primary goal is to account for the central role of women in public decision making. The focus is on the political significance of women's domestic authority, of their influence in kinship groups, of their social rank in the clan/potlatch complex, and of their roles in the elected council and the administrative structure, and of their voluntary associat icns. The study is approached from three directions. First, women's changing soc io-economic position is described and analyzed. S e c o n d , the influence of traditional culture on modern life is considered. Third, the current socio-political organization of the community is examined in relation to prevailing conditions of economic dependency . Here the focus is on the management of scarce social and economic resources and on the competition for decision-making positions. This study argues that women's public presence is the result of three tightly interwoven factors: women's economic autonomy (which includes control over critical domestic resources); the prevailing ideology of respect for older women's knowledge and wisdom; and the socio-economic structure, in which public and private interests are essentially undifferentiated. These factors coalesce to provide economic and cultural foundations for women's unique political strategy: the formation of voluntary associations that ii interact successfully with the formal political structure to influence public decisions and to advance family and community interests. Women 's voluntary associations compete successfully with the elected council in obtaining limited economic and political resources and provide a special forum in which women can retain and advance family honour and political fortunes. The study also examines a number of approaches to the impact of colonization and capitalism on indigenous women. The findings refute the argument the capitalism automatically erodes the position of women in indigenous communities. They support the contrary view that in conditions of political-economic marginality, a domestic sector of production exists along side capitalist production. Because the domestic sector is organized around kinship and the creation of use-values, this mode of production protects or even enhances women's personal autonomy and social influence. The analysis of political processes in which women are equal participants requires moving away from c o m m o n assumptions of female subordination to analytical models that reveal the complex, and often contradictory, structural relations that develop between women and men as women c o m e to occupy a variety of social positions. In seeking to understand women's central position in this community, this study points to the need for theoretical models grounded in the routines of social relations. Theoretical formulations are needed that will take into account the simple fact that women and men are visible and active in the public domain. In conclusion, it is argued that approaching women's political iii participation through theoretical perspectives that stress female subordination obscures the relative power available to indigenous women as a consequence of ascribed rank and personal competence. iv T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S A B S T R A C T . ii T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S v A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S xii O R T H O G R A P H Y xiii C H A P T E R O N E INTRODUCTION 1 The Research Problem 1 The Ethnographic Record 11 W o m e n and Politics 20 Methodology 25 Organization 30 C H A P T E R T W O SAIK'UZ T O D A Y 32 Introduction 32 The People 32 The Land 37 The Village 39 The Economics of Dependency 47 The Administrative Structure 50 The Political Issues . . . 54 C H A P T E R T H R E E H ISTORY O F T H E SAIK'UZ W H U T ' E N N E 60 Introduction 60 Aboriginal Social Organization 62 T h e ' U d a ' D u n e 64 The Fur Trade 1806-1862 69 Settlement 1862-1910 72 Church and State Intervention 76 Economic Expansion and Settlement 1911-1950 80 i) Economic Diversity 80 ii) Changes in Subsistence Production 83 iii) Changes in Fur Trapping 85 iv) The Depression Years 87 v Modernization 90 i) The War Years 1939-1945 90 ii) The Post-War Years 1946-1960 91 iii) The Present 99 Summary and Conclusions 100 C H A P T E R F O U R A SAIK'UZ VIEW O F HISTORY 102 Introduction 102 The Cosmological Matrix 104 i) Selection and Analysis of the Narratives 105 ii) Women in Mythology 107 iii) Rites of Passage 109 iv) Social Context 119 The G o o d Times and the Hard Times 126 Gender in the Political Context 141 Summary and Conclusions 145 C H A P T E R FIVE W O M E N ' S LIVES: D A U G H T E R S , M O T H E R S , L E A D E R S 147 Introduction 147 "A Little Girl is Not for Nothing" 148 i) Birth and Chi ldhood 148 ii) Motherhood 154 "Unless There is a Woman" 161 G o o d and Strong Women 165 i) The G o o d Women 166 ii) The Strong Women 175 Summary and Conclusions 182 C H A P T E R SIX D O M E S T I C LIFE A N D KINSHIP ORGANIZATION 184 Introduction 184 Welfare Colonialism 184 Household Composition 188 Family and Kinship Organization 194 i) The Family and Extended Family 194 ii) Domestic Responsibilities 196 vi The Outfit 207 i) Organization 207 ii) The A d a m s Outfit 220 iii) The Baptiste Outfit 226 iv) The Charles Outfit 228 v) The Daniels Outfit 231 Summary and Conclusions 236 C H A P T E R S E V E N S O C I A L ORGANIZATION A N D C O M M U N I T Y LIFE 238 Introduction 238 The Clans 238 The Potlatch 245 Social Status r 249 Gender 256 Clans and Outfits 264 Voluntary Association 267 Public Events 272 Summary and Conclusions 274 C H A P T E R E IGHT W O M E N A N D T H E POLITICAL P R O C E S S . 276 Introduction . '. 276 Positions of Power and Powerful People 277 The Political Units 291 i) The Voluntary Associations 291 ii) The Administrative Structure 305 Summary and Conclusions 314 C H A P T E R NINE W O M E N ' S SOCIO-POLIT ICAL S T A T U S : R E G I O N A L VARIATIONS A N D C O N C E P T U A L ISSUES 317 Introduction 317 Changing Social and Economic Relations 318 i) Precapitalist Gender Relations 319 ii) The Impact of Mercantile Capitalism 322 iii) W a g e Labour and Women's Subsistence Production 324 iv) Contemporary Conditions 326 vii Theoretical Implications 332 i) Historical Materialism 332 ii) Cultural Explanations 341 iii) Processual Analyses 347 Conclusions 350 C H A P T E R T E N S U M M A R Y A N D C O N C L U S I O N S 352 Summary 352 Carrier Ethnography 360 i) The Past 360 ii) The Present 364 Conclusions 366 BIBLIOGRAPHY : 371 viii LIST O F M A P S M A P 1: Indians of British Columbia 33 M A P 2: Internal Divisions of the Carrier 35 MAP 3: Indian Reserves No. 1 to 8 of Stoney Creek Band . 41 M A P 4: Fishing Sites Utilized by Women of Saik'uz 222 ix LIST O F C H A R T S C H A R T 1: Selected Descendants of the Referent Males and their S p o u s e s 216 C H A R T 2: Core Members of the Four Outfits 217 C H A R T 3: The Outfits with Third and Fourth Generations and Peripheral Members 218 C H A R T 4: Workers at Potlatch I 252 C H A R T 5: Workers at Potlatch II 255 C H A R T 6: Holders of Potlatch Seats by Outfit 259 C H A R T 7: Elected Office Holders in A d a m s and Baptiste Outfits 281 C H A R T 8: Appointed and Parapolitical Office Holders 285 x LIST O F T A B L E S T A B L E 1: Department of Indian Affairs' Population Estimates for Stoney Creek Indian Band 1891-1920 by Five Year Averages 75 T A B L E 2: Population Trends of Census Division 8, Central Interior of British Columbia 1901-1961 93 T A B L E 3: Adult Population of Census Division 8, Central Interior of British Columbia 1961 by A g e Group and Sex 94 T A B L E 4: A List of Selected Tales from Jenness and from Fieldwork 106 T A B L E 5: Number of Generations Living in Household by Marital Status of Household Head 189 T A B L E 6: House Owners by Marital Status and Gender 192 T A B L E 7: Presence of Dependent Children by Gender Composit ion of Adult Residents of Household 203 T A B L E 8: Balhats Attendance by Clan and Gender 257 T A B L E 9: Number of Positions Held by Elected Personnel 278 T A B L E 10: Multiple Office Holders 1974-1983 287 xi A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S I am indebted to the members of my dissertation committee for their painstaking guidance of this study: Dr. Robin Ridington, Dr. David F. Aberle, Dr. Michael Kew, and Dr. Thelma Sharp Cook . I have benefited greatly from Dr. Aberle's careful, incisive, and detailed commentary. Col leagues at Saint Mary's University also provided useful criticism and insights. Dr. Harold M c G e e read portions of earlier drafts and Professor Susan Walters gave useful advice and stimulating discussion. I wish to thank the many friends who encouraged me throughout the work and who provided numerous personal services: Pat Berringer, Terry Smith, Jan Gray, Kuldip Gill, Elena Perkins, Joanne Richardson, Joanne Sinclair, and Judith Rose. Evelyn Legare offered useful criticisms and spent many days and evenings in helpful discussions. Greg Schwann gave generously of his time and solved dilemmas with the computer. Gwynetth Matthews edited an earlier version and provided invaluable advice throughout the final draft. I am most grateful to Marie Paturel who cheerfully and patiently typed and photocopied two drafts. Linda Nieuwenstein also provided assistance with word processing and photocopying. I wish to thank the Social Science and Humanities Research Council for the doctoral fellowship 453-83-0163. Many women and men at Stoney Creek provided hours of assistance, guidance with the language and linguistic problems, and gave their time generously. They are too numerous to mention, but special thanks is due to Miss Bertha Thomas and Mrs. Cecile Patrick who kindly shared their homes with me. The staff of the band office shared their offices and assisted me in many ways. I have deliberately mentioned no names of the many women and men who contributed their life stories, historical knowledge, and personal views for fear that identifying individuals might jeopardize their privacy. My gratitude for their anonymous assistance is immeasurable. I owe a special debt to Dr. John McMullan who read and commented on each draft. Without his patience and encouragement, the study could not have been completed. xii ORTHOGRAPHY This study uses the orthography and pronunciation key (Walker et al. 1974:343ff) developed by Richard Walker and David B. Wilkinson of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Variations of their renderings in The Central Carrier  Bilingual Dictionary reflect dialectal differences between the people of this study, Saik'uz Whut'enne, or Stoney Creek Band, and the Stuart Lake Carrier with whom Walker and Wilkinson worked. The spellings and translations of Carrier terminology used here have been provided by women of Saik'uz who have received linguistic training from the Summer Institute of Linguistics. An example of their role in the development of Carrier linguistic materials is the literacy materials (workbook and primers) printed in 1976 by the Stoney Creek Indian Band. Key To Pronunciation Carrier s o u n d English equivalent of sound m Ih k k' kh kw kw' 9 gh gw h a b ch ch ' d dl dz dz e said with a stoppage in the throat like a in father like b in ball like ch in chicken like ch said with a catch like d in d o g like dl in landlord in rapid speech like ds in Ned's same as ds said in front of mouth like ay in say like g in g o o d like g said in back of mouth like gw in Gwen like h in hen like i in link like j in job like k in key like k said with a catch like k said in back of mouth like qu in queen like qu said with a catch like I in leaf resembles I in clean but not voiced like m in moon xiii n like ng like 0 like OO like s like s like sh like t like f like tl like tr like ts like ts' like ts like ts' like u like w like wh like y like z like z like n in nut ng in song o in toe oo in boot s in saw s said in front of mouth sh in shoe t in tea t said with a catch tl in throttling tl said with a catch ts in sits ts said with a catch ts said in front of mouth ts said with a catch u in but w in wander w in where y in young z in fuzz z said in front of mouth xiv CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION The Research Problem I propose to examine women's political strategies in the context of gender relations in Saik'uz, a Carrier Indian reserve of central British Columbia. Women of this native Indian band have earned a local reputation as prominent community leaders. Indeed, within Saik'uz and the neighbouring white community, female elders are said to be "in control of the reserve." Because my earlier research (Fiske 1981) confirmed the importance of female leadership in community politics but did not analyze either the contemporary social context or the specific nature of women's political participation, I have now chosen to do so . I raise three questions: What are the political strategies of female leaders? How have they come to occupy a central position within the decision-making process? What cultural, material, and social factors account for their prominence? The prominent position that Saik'uz women hold in community affairs is especially interesting; on the one hand, it contradicts a widely-held belief that everywhere women are secondary to men (Rosaldo 1974; Ortner and Whitehead 1981), while on the other, it is consistent with the known position of women in other native societies of western North America, for example, the Tlingit of Hoonah, Alaska (L. Klein 1975), and the Colville and Puyallup of Washington State (Green 1983:15). It is of particular interest as well in light of the scant but contradictory literature 1 on Carrier women's traditional roles. While earlier observers reported that Carrier women routinely held decision-making positions within their settlements and clans (Goldman 1963:358; Morice 1893:175; Jenness 1943:489; 521) and were held in general high esteem (Mclean 1932:180), they also argued that Carrier women occupied a secondary social position and were subjected to particular hardships justified by culturally prescribed rituals and physical isolation (Morice 1930:57-58; 1890:124; McLean 1932:155). In order to fulfill the goals of this study it will be necessary to provide an account of the social responsibilities and powers of Carrier women and to redress the ethnographic neglect of Carrier women by offering an account that accurately reflects their world view. The Carrier are an Athapaskan group of central British Columbia. Traditionally, they have occupied large tracts of hunting and fishing territories stretching from the Rocky Mountains westward to the Coast Mountain Range and lying between 53 and 55 degrees of latitude. Saik'uz is found at the centre of this region, which is connected to the periphery of Carrier territory and beyond to adjacent tribal areas with a long established network of trails. Over the last century, Saik'uz jural authority has shifted from matrilineal clans (which regulated marriage, resource production, and ceremonial exchange), and patrilineal village chieftainship, to a state imposed system of band chief and council. Initially, the federal state and the Catholic church directly controlled appointments to these positions, which they restricted to men of their own choice. Democratic election of men by men displaced direct outside control by 1930, but it was not until 2 1951, with revisions to the Indian Act, that women were granted formal democratic participation. W o m e n have always been active in the Carrier economy and in managing the affairs of their settlements and clans. Goldman tells us that extended family units of the Algatcho were headed by the first born, female or male (Goldman 1963:358). Saik'uz elders claim that in indigenous times an extended family unit had two "bosses," the eldest male and female. They further contend that their clans were led in a similar fashion, by a "clan father" and a "clan mother." Women were engaged in subsistence activities of fishing, gathering, snaring, and later trapping for the fur trade. Today women work as wage labourers, produce the bulk of bush subsistence, and manage affairs of the community through participation in the band council, its administrative staff, and voluntary associations. With the emergence of feminist perspectives in anthropology in the past decade, the study of women's lives and social relations is receiving greater ethnographic attention and is generating new debates concerning female-male relations. Feminist studies in particular focus on women's socio-political status, culminating in extensive efforts to measure the relative status of women vis-a-vis men in pre-industrial and contemporary social formations (for example Whyte 1978; S a c k s 1979; Leacock 1978; Schlegel 1972). Studies of native American women have followed along this path (Brown 1975; Legare 1986; Albers 1983; A. Klein 1983). Nevertheless, anthropological literature is sparse when it comes to analyzing women's use of social power. It is particularly lacking in studies of native American 3 women's decision making within band and tribal councils. A number of factors contribute to this disregard for women's routine interventions in public life. A tendency to write life stories of female leaders as if each were a remarkable exception and without due consideration of the circumstances that foster female leadership biases our understanding of female leadership. Thus, what is missed is a complete picture of female leadership in relation to c o m m o n and enduring political struggles of the majority of women (Bonnin 1900; Nelson 1972; Stewart 1980).1 Not surprisingly, efforts to understand broader issues and strategies underlying community and national leadership are few and all too frequently lack depth and analysis (see, for example, Indian Rights Association 1981; Kidwell 1979; Miller 1978). Green attributes this overall neglect to an academic preference for theory over the details of daily life: If we know little about the ways in which the matriarchy functioned in Iroquois daily life, we must suspect that only theory, rather than the actual practice of female decision making, is of interest to scholars. Little wonder that few have written about modern female leadership in tribes which have been female governed for a long t ime-Puyal lup, Colville, Yavapai, Menominee-or about those women who served as national and tribal political leaders in the last three de c a de s . Little wonder again that a fixation with the traditional evolved into studies of nonthreatening older women, artists, and 1 I d o not intend to suggest that these female leaders were not remarkable or even that they were not the exception of their culture and time. Rather, I am arguing that without comparative studies of their "experiences and circumstances we cannot further our understanding of the social processes underlying successful female leadership. . 4 relatives of famous male leaders, rather than into studies of the old women who tell male members of the American Indian Movement what to do in the next militant action (Green 1983:15). But at the same time, we find detailed descriptions of the actual practice of male decision making (Dyck, 1983; Larsen 1983). Consequently, feminist anthropologists suggest that this neglect is more directly the outcome of sexism. Ethnographic descriptions, they argue, are biased by a prevailing androcentricism that either misrepresents women's lives or neglects describing them altogether (Reiter 1975; Sacks 1979; Scheper -Hughes 1983). The general disregard for women's lives as a subject of legitimate inquiry has been exacerbated further by c o m m o n acceptance of the assumption that everywhere men are politically dominant (Rosaldo and Lamphere 1974). This contributes to the neglect of women's participation in the public domain and results in elaborate cultural models of universal gender hierarchy (Ortner and Whitehead 1981; Collier and Rosaldo 1981). The ideology of fieldwork as an intellectual and heroic adventure may shape male consciousness and promote male bias. Association of fieldwork with hardiness, physical deprivation, and personal courage may magnify assumptions of male dominance and personal superiority (Fiske 1986:68). Given the predominance of androcentric orientations within anthropology, it is not surprising that women's perspectives as well as those of men will reflect male bias. Standard definitions and concepts, after all, have been framed and refined by this one viewpoint. Even feminist scholars, anxious to revise and amend the ethnographic record, are 5 constrained in their efforts. F a c e d with traditional male audiences, s o m e find themselves under pressure to shift their focus from the reality of women's daily lives to the more conventional concerns of abstract theory (Morgen 1983). There are, of course, studies of women's lives and women's involvement in local-level politics. These have focussed primarily upon women's covert political influence in communities where women's domestic tasks and authority have considerable impact on the community as a whole rather than on women's direct political action (Albers 1983; Powers 1986; Lamphere 1977a). Unhappily these studies fail to consider the limits of covert power and the political significance of women's organizations. Although a number of ethnographers have remarked upon the influence of women's voluntary associations within community politics, there have been few attempts to analyze their full significance. Balikci, for example, mentions that the women's auxiliary of Old Crow intervened in public decisions. Sadiy, he fails to elaborate on either the frequency or the extent of this influence (Balikci 1963:143). In her account of Tlingit town politics in Hoonah (1975:225ff), Klein offers greater insights. She notes that voluntary organizations are central to Tlingit women's political careers. Within them women are leaders, core members, and followers (ibid.:290). More recently, Powers addresses the issue of reservation-wide voluntary associations of Oglala women. She notes that these organizations serve two purposes: to fight the specific problems of women vis-a-vis domestic violence and sexual discrimination on the reservation, and to unite with men to combat state 6 manipulations and political interventions (Powers 1986:126). But she, too, fails to expand on either the s u c c e s s of these associations or on the strategies of their members . In fact, beyond several short studies and journalists' accounts of women's activism, the structures and political significance of women's voluntary associations at both the local and pan-tribal level generally has been overlooked (e.g. Bomberry 1981; Booney 1976; Morrow 1970; Steiner 1960; Temkin et al. 1981; Thorpe 1981). Clearly, theoretical advances cannot be achieved without a sound ethnographic record. The ongoing debate on women's socio-political status is strengthened if it is founded on case studies of women's access to and manipulation of power. Although attempts have been made to extend and revise the ethnohistorical record in this regard, there are few studies of contemporary native women's direct involvement in the political process. This study addresses that ethnographic lacuna. It focusses on aspects of women's political struggles and strategies that have been hitherto neglected. It goes beyond generalized debates on women's status to consider specific configurations of women's social relationships in order to consider the political significance of their influence in kin networks and of their voluntary associations. I approach my study of women's political participation from three directions. First, I describe and analyze women's changing socio-economic position. Here I concentrate on the historical transformation of the aboriginal subsistence economy through the penetration of mercantile capitalism, the introduction of wage and 7 contract labour, which primarily favoured men, the development of industrial capitalism, which displaced male Carrier labour but which simultaneously created service and domestic jobs for women, and, finally, the current position of economic dependency upon state administered welfare and short term employment programs. I stress women's traditional and modern participation in economic activities and their.. a c c e s s to and control over resources and the fruits of others' labour. In order to attain as full an understanding as possible, I view the historical context from two perspectives: the written record of primary and secondary sources, and the oral history of the Saik'uz elders. S e c o n d , I consider the influence of traditional Saik'uz culture on m o d e m Saik'uz life. In particular, I investigate the extent to which women's contemporary behaviour is influenced by traditional role models. Saik'uz elders make clear differen-c e s between what they consider traditional and what they think of as modern. From their perspective, the traditional, which they often categorize as "the Indian way," embodies all aspects of culture and social order perceived to have existed before Euro-Canadian contact. Precisely what this includes can be verified through myth and history as related by the elders. Behaviour and cultural perceptions that are labelled modern, "the white man's way," are said to have emerged with the establish-ment of reserves in 1894, the intervention of the church, the disruption of trapping, and the discontinuance of salmon fishing by traditional weir technology early in this century. For the purposes of this research, the focus is on elders' perceptions of 8 traditional female roles as defined by accounts of idealized behaviour of their foremothers and as embodied in mythology. I will show that there exists a high degree of congruence between traditional and modern values with respect to women's familial roles and community responsibilities. Elderly women see no conflict between traditional ideals of nurture and domestic obligations and their contemporary family responsibilities. Nor do these elders see conflict between family responsibilities and intervention in community affairs. Finally, I examine the current socio-political organization in light of the economic circumstances of the reserve community. Here I explore two basic issues: the management of economic and social resources, and the competition for control over executive offices within the formal political structure, the elected band council and its administrative staff, and within the parapolitical structure of women's voluntary associations. The focus on local-level politics and community description is timely. A s Ponting explains, with respect to consitutional reform, consensus does not exist between leaders of Indian bands and their tribal councils, or between tribal councils and their provincial and national umbrella associations. Lack of a unified view among representative groups has led the state towards a piecemeal practice of negotiating with individual bands (Ponting 1986:38). More likely than not, following the example of the Sechelt B a n d , 2 future state emphasis will be upon negotiation of 2 Sechelt Band of British Columbia has negotiated a form of self-administration which removes it from many prescriptions of the Indian Act. Known as the Sechelt 9 band level self-administration, with economic and social development at the community level receiving priority. We can expect increased emphasis on local-level leadership, grassroots organization, and public agitation with respect to community and regional issues. This transition comes at a time of fiscal restraint and a state emphasis on the past failures of economic policies to alleviate dire social L circumstances. Therefore it is equally likely that reserves will face a period of decreased economic support. It must also be kept in mind that native Indian women's associations are not funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), as are elected councils and their umbrella organizations, but by a number of other federal agencies including the Secretary of State's Women's Program, Health and Welfare programs, and Canadian Employment and Immigration (CEIC). Consequently, women face unique problems in their struggle for economic support and for state recognition of their contributions to native Indian communities and social development. To date, there are neither studies of the relevance of women's associations and political leadership within this sphere nor analyses of the particular social and political problems they confront. This dissertation breaks new ground by addressing these issues. While I focus entirely upon one case, which admittedly concerns only a small population, the situation addressed is representative of nationwide Indian Band Act, this statute grants limited, delegated power comparable to municipal government. 10 circumstances with respect to urgent community problems of health, income, and employment (Jamieson, 1978; Ponting 1986; Shkilnyk 1985). The Ethnographic Record A s stated above, in order to achieve my basic goals I find it necessary to address the limits of Carrier ethnography. There is very little published material on the Carrier, and what does exist fails to provide accurate, in-depth descriptions of women's lives. Adrian Morice, a nineteenth century Oblate missionary, provides relatively detailed accounts of Carrier life. Morice concentrates on the Central [Upper] Carrier, in particular the people of Necoslie at Fort St. James. Consequently, differences between local groups are not examined adequately. Moreover, Morice's work is characterized by an androcentric view of women. Rarely does he report their views, and in the main he depicts them as subservient drudges (e.g., 1892:118; 1930:57-58) who had little if any say in community affairs (1930:60). Although he occasionally contradicts himself by remarking upon women's access to noble titles and chiefly positions (1889:124), he makes no effort to fully describe or understand their social position. Morice's work is more suspect where he addresses the intimate side of women's lives. His interpretation of menstrual taboos and puberty seclusion is pejorative, and his portrayal of Carrier women's perceptions of menstruation, procreation, and mothering is overshadowed by his own views. He claims hunting proscriptions were based on "excessive repugnance for, and dread of, menstruating women" (1892:118) and he goes on to describe the pubescent girl as "that most 11 dreaded creature" who p o s s e s s e d "baleful influences" as a consequence of her "terrible infirmity" (1892:165). Nowhere does he emphasize that men were constrained by menstrual taboos (after all, they were responsible for avoiding unnecessary and careless interactions with sec luded women) or that women and girls did not share this negative perception of themselves. In short, Morice's work must be used with great care. Goldman's (1963) description of the Lower Carrier of the Algatcho is relevant, since some members of the contemporary Saik'uz band d e s c e n d from Lower Carrier bands. Yet again, this work pays scant attention to the particulars of women's lives and gender relations. Despite his own acknowledgement that the norm of sexual equality mitigated sexual differences in leadership (1963:358), elsewhere Goldman speaks of male chiefs and "siblings and their wives"(ibid.:348) rather than including complete and adequate descriptions of women's leadership. The same problems are found in Jenness 's (1943) work on the Carrier of the Bulkley River. Women are mentioned infrequently and are characterized as secondary persons in relation to men. This is best evidenced in his dismissal of noble women's titles and prerogatives as relatively unimportant simply because they belonged to women (1943:521). Similarly Duff (1951) offers little analysis of women's position in Carrier social organization, while Steward (1960) pays no attention either to the social position or to the economic contributions of women. Unpublished works have little more to offer. Legare (1986:123) points out that Goldman's unpublished work contains inconsistencies and contradictions that 12 prevent clear interpretation of crucial aspects of gender roles. The harsh treatment of Carrier widows at the husband's cremation has long been given as evidence of women's inferior social value (Morice 1889:146). This understanding has been enhanced by the fact that comparable treatment for men is not descr ibed. A s Legare explains, however, Goldman's unpublished work does contain such evidence, which he later denies (Legare 1986:123) and which, I might a d d , is excluded from his earlier, published work (Goldman 1963:335). 3 A further difficulty with this interpretation of widow's service arises when one considers periods of male servitude. At marriage a young man was expected to offer the fruits of his labour to his bride's parents. A s Goldman states, The behaviour of a man towards his parents-in-law was very clearly expressive of dominance relations. For at least the first two years of matrilocal residence the groom was a complete subordinate in the home of his father-in-law. He assisted him in every way, yielding up his entire fishing and hunting catch (1963:359). Two points must be noted. First, despite the depth of servitude to his parents-in-law, the groom's position is not perceived as evidence of overall male subordination, whereas the latter period of widow's servitude is taken to demonstrate women's subordination. S e c o n d , Goldman is again ambivalent about the precise nature of gender roles: initially he refers to a period of subordination to both parents-3 It is important to note that Goldman is ambiguous in this later work as well. While he specifically describes the hostility endured by widows and their subjugation to the deceased 's family, he later generalizes his statement to "the hostility already descr ibed with which the surviving spouse was treated" (Goldman 1963:355). 13 in-law, then quickly moves to suggest that this existed only between two generations of men. In my view neither period of service is indicative of gender or generation inequality. Rather, each marked a change in relations between families. Bride service initiated formal relations, widow service severed them. While Goldman and Morice present biased accounts, Hackler (1958), H u d s o n (1972, 1983), and Kobrinsky (1973) pass by the issue of gender relations to concentrate almost solely on male activities and male perceptions of cultural values and social structure. They make few references to women's work, social roles, or cultural contributions. Moreover, these accounts also are p lagued by an androcentric bias in choice of wording. For example, Kobrinsky attributes male reluctance to net salmon (commonly viewed as women's work) as an anxiety equivalent to a white man's fear of "being caught in the kitchen with an apron on." In a different vein, Hudson (1983) refers to the important transition from a resource economy b a s e d on clan production to one based on domestic or family production. Yet nowhere does he describe in detail women's productive labour or analyze its contribution to the (undefined) domestic or household unit (Hudson 1983:106,108,152). Moreover, even in the face of his own descriptions of female bush activities, past and present, Hudson has analyzed the symbolic importance of community and domestic economies strictly as replication of "activities carried out by their male ancestors" (1983:164). The cumulative effect of this quality of ethnographic reporting is to discount women and their work. Other types of descriptions of contemporary life a d d to the ethnographic 14 record. G ibson 's (1972) vignettes of Carrier communities offer a more personal glimpse into the people's lives and a better gender balance than found elsewhere. Because Gibson's purpose is to present a subjective, compassionate account of individuals with whom he sympathized or whom he admired, he accentuates personalities and inter-personal relationships. His rich and sensitive descriptions are carefully detailed to expose the "bitter-sweet texture of Indian life" (1972:72). In consequence , he provides valuable insights about village society and family life, especially the strong position of women within it (1972:36,37,63). Nevertheless, Gibson's work must be approached with caution because at the same time his ethnographic and historical details are vague and at times erroneous (for examples see 1972:56,71,91). It must be kept in mind that apart from Hackler's ethnographic description of Western Carrier community life in the mid twentieth century, community ethnographies d o not exist. The focus of research has been on the reconstruction of past social structures and economic systems and on broader analyses of the political economy (Hudson 1972,1983; Kobrinsky 1973). None of these approaches allows for detailed descriptions of daily life and personal interaction. Consequently it is important to point out that the absence of details about individual women and their position in the social structure is in some regard paralleled by a similar lack of attention to men's routine affairs. In general terms, there exists a need for community ethnography in order to further our understanding of Carrier society. A s indicated above, I am concerned to present an ethnographic description , 1 5 that accurately reflects the world view of Saik'uz women and men. To this end, I have adhered to their terms of reference where possible. This presents particular problems. Informants now employ concepts common to anthropological d iscourse (matriarchy, extended family, clan, and lineage), while at the same time they interchangeably use vernacular terms of reference (clan mothers, outfit, and party, side or company) . Neither set of terms has precise definition or stringent usage. What is an outfit to one may be either a family or an extended family to another, or a "trapping company" (if used in reference to a group sharing resource areas) to a third. Genealogical ties are not always reliable indicators of membership in putative extended families or the larger kin units often labelled outfits. Granted, membership in an outfit is said to be determined by kinship ties, and great value is placed on kinship relations; nevertheless, dissension does occur over who is and who is not a member of any given outfit. Using the term clan to indicate the two matrilineal descent groups also has its own complications. In local usage it can indicate either all the people entitled to membership by birth or only those entitled by birth and also initiated into the potlatch seating system. Although local usage is not wholly congruent with anthropological definition, I refer to two clans at Saik'uz, since this term does carry a specific anthropological meaning (a unilineal descent group) applicable to Saik'uz, while it also reflects Carrier preference. I include in the term clan all people entitled to membership by birth. Since Saik'uz is the only Carrier subdivision to have only two clans, moiety is not used . Other bands have three or four and a memory of 16 five, while Southern Carrier have none. With these ambiguities and constraints in mind, the following terminology will be employed. Insofar as possible, and specifically where the designation is mine and not local usage, the term family will be used to refer to the smallest kinship group, whether co-residential or not, that is e n g a g e d in daily decision making with regard to domestic affairs. The limits of the term are established by the notion that kinship groups share decision making. Hence, a family might consist of two siblings, if those two operate as a decision-making group, or it might include a number of primary and secondary kin. Kinship groups that are not b o u n d by daily co -operation and that include primary, secondary, and higher order kin will be designated extended family. Shared residence cannot be confused with family. A s clarified by Bender (cited in Klein 1975:206), the concept of household incorporates two distinct and independent phenomena: domest ic functions and c o m m o n residence, and, as will be described later, domestic functions are not necessarily shared by all residents in a house. Household activities will not be considered solely functions of the domestic domain as it is commonly understood. Sanday (1974:190) offers a distinction between domestic and public that is often assumed to be universal: The domestic domain includes activities performed within the realm of the localized family unit. The public domain includes political and economic activities that take place or have impact beyond the localized family unit and that relate to control of persons or control of things. Albers offers the same view: the domestic domain is "identified by domestic 17 relations which are familial in character" and the public realm is "based on community-wide associations of a jural-political nature" (1983:177). A s will be d iscussed, this sectoral split d o e s not apply to Saik'uz because community politics and domestic politics are largely the same. A s we shall see , intrafamily decision making and allocation of material resources are closely integrated into community politics. Issues confronting the community administration overlap with private concerns, for example, the provision of housing and household equipment and access to adequate incomes. In a village with a housing shortage, conflicts over residential rights, and prevailing underemployment, there can be no clear boundary between domestic ordering of residence or access to limited household resources and the political and economic concerns of the so-called public realm. Household relationships and decisions have ramifications for the community at large. T o provide shelter is to make a political decision with considerable economic implications both for the household members and for those denied housing. A s others have demonstrated, conceptual opposition of domestic and public affairs is not applicable to communities where a domestic sector of production is necessary for survival; there women's domestic work and their activities outside the household are almost an extension of one another (Deere and Leon deLeal 1981). Neither is the conceptual opposition applicable to communities where women, acting as household heads, are active in community decision making (Albers 1983, Klein 1975; Powers 1986). Albers and Powers demonstrate the continuity between domestic management and community, leadership among the Sioux and Oglala 18 respectively. Speaking of the Devil's Lake Sioux, Albers (1983:216) states: [Women's] influence in mobilizing and monitoring political support is inseparable from their contributions in ceremonial and interhousehold provisioning. This is because the social arena where kin share and collaborate in their domestic and ceremonial affairs overlaps, and in s o m e instances is nearly identical with, the major fields of political action on the reservation. Therefore, it is necessary to ask, What is the relationship, if any, between domestic authority and public power? Because I intend to analyze decision making, I have found it best to adhere to terminology that stresses social units as decision-making groups. I follow D. Schneider who defines a descent group as a decision-making descent unit or portion of one, within which authority is differentially distributed (1973:4). It is clear, however, that I d o not agree that such inequity applies only to men. I disagree with Schneider 's assertion that "It is sufficient, then, to define the male sex role as having authority over the statuses occupied by women..." (ibid.:7). A s will be made clear, women d o have authority within kinship groups, and like their male peers they have differential abilities and rights to wield authority. Family decision making is not necessarily egalitarian. Nor does it automatically entail women and men. Women who head families in the absence of men exercise domestic authority that does not automatically affect men. Men who reside in all-male households are free from direct female intervention. Authority devolves differently for the young and old; older women have considerable authority over younger women and men, but young women have little s c o p e to influence the lives 19 of older men. Similarly, older men exercise influence over younger women and men, but young men have no authority over older women. This leads me to question D. Schneider's assertion that "the role of women as women [can be] defined as that of responsibility for the care of children" (ibid.:6). While I, too, stress that most women assume this responsibility regardless of kinship statuses, I d o not accept the notion that this one shared responsibility, which is after all only one of many, defines women as women. W o m e n a n d Polit ics In discussing political structures and manipulations of power, clear definitions of the relevant analytical terms are critical. I have adopted Swartz's definitions of politics, the events which are involved in the determination and implementation of public goals and/or the differential distribution and use of power within the group or groups concerned with the goals being considered (1969:1), and "local-level" politics, [that] occurs in communities where relations are "multiplex" rather than "simplex"... and where politics is incomplete in the sense that actors and groups outside the range of the local, multiplex relationships are vitally and directly involved in the political processes of that group (1969:1). A s Swartz indicates, politics are not always divisive. Rather they may be c o -operative, entail universal agreement, and require c o m m o n action that is not characterized by the use of personal will and conflict. In other words, political action need not be synonymous with a struggle to wield power as it is habitually defined, 20 that is, as the ability to exercise one's will in the face of resistance. 4 This being the case , rather than adopt this definition of power I suggest that power be viewed along two dimensions: the ability to direct decision making as well as the ability to gain a c c e s s to and control over the allocation of crucial material and nonmaterial resources, however they may be defined (Bourque and Warren 1981:53). The ability to direct decision making includes the capacity to determine what issues become relevant for political discussion and to define and enforce the rules that guide political discussion and decision making (ibid.). This broader definition incorporates two important features of Carrier women's public participation: their struggle for improvement of the immediate human condition, which is central to determining critical political issues, and their access to and political manipulation of traditional ideologies of nurture, which constitute a crucial nonmaterial resource. Clearly the politics of Saik'uz can be considered local-level as define by Swartz. A small reserve community of fewer than 400 permanent residents, subordinate to federal authority under the direction of the DIAND, and without economic independence, Saik'uz is subjected to the intervention of two larger political entities, namely, the province of British Columbia and the Canadian state. 4 The concept of power has been called an " 'essentially contested concept' --one of those concepts which 'inevitably involves endless disputes about their proper uses on the part of their users'.... Weber's definition, 'the chance of a man or a number of men [sic] to realize their own will in a communal action even against the resistance of others' ... has had a major influence on recent developments of the concept. Another common characteristic of definitions of power is the suggestion of the ability to limit choices for others" (Eisenstein 1984:33). 21 Nevertheless, the people of Saik'uz struggle to retain control over their immediate interests. Insofar as possible, they attempt to direct community affairs through their elected band council and its administrative staff or through kinship networks and voluntary associations. Yet internal community politics, the focus of this study, are constrained by outside intervention. Not only is the formal, elected leadership curtailed by the direct, overriding authority of the state, but the informal, or "parapolitical," structure of voluntary associations is curbed by its dependence upon the state for access to the scarce resources that come to Saik'uz in the form of government subsidies. More generally, of course, provincial and federal policies and practices impinge as heavily here as anywhere else in their jurisdictions. I use Swartz's definition of politics for two reasons. First, it focuses on events and , therefore, on the actions of those involved in the public realm whether they be divisive.or co-operative. This well suits my purpose with regard to presenting women's political strategies as a focal point for analyzing the relations between gender and politics. S e c o n d , it permits me to follow F .G. Bailey's view of politics as a "competitive game" (1969a:1) marked by contests involving well matched competing teams. Being a game, political contestation is guided by rules, directed by leaders, and motivated by the desire to win prizes and rewards. Team leaders call upon two discrete groups of supporters: a core personnel morally tied to the leader through "multiplex relationships" (1969a:45) and teams of followers who constitute either a moral following, who share common sentiments and ethical precepts and whose loyalty, therefore, can be taken for granted, or a contract team, 22 whose interests are instrumental and self-centered (1969a:28). The concerns of contract team members may well focus on material and social benefits such as would derive from patronage for material g o o d s , employment, social recognition, etc. The political contest is guided by two sets of rules, the normative, which are professed publicly, stated vaguely, and predicated upon ethical and moral precepts; and pragmatic rules, which, in contrast, are private and have to d o with effective strategies (1969a:5). In my analysis I go further to suggest that within the political struggles of Saik'uz, a further element emerges, a proclivity for women to form their own political teams. A s I will demonstrate, in circumstances where the interests of women and men conflict, women break rank with dual gender teams b a s e d on kinship. When they perceive the need to compete directly with men or to confront male challenges to their public participation, women form their own teams of moral and contract followers. These teams momentarily create their own rules and priorities in order to gain an advantage or public goal. In short, the paradigm of political teams permits analysis of women's involvement as core members, leaders, and followers of political groups. In this regard Bailey's political paradigm is applicable as well. His model of the "parapolitical" structure provides a useful unit of analysis for the political role of women's voluntary associations in local-level politics. He defines parapolitical structures as those which are partly regulated by, and partly independent 23 of, larger encapsulating political structures, and which, s o to speak, fight battles with these larger structures in a way which for them seldom ends in victory, rarely in dramatic defeat, but usually in a long drawn stalemate and defeat by attrition (1969b:281). A s Eidheim reminds us, voluntary associations coalesce into a parapolitical structure when a constituted public apparatus cannot adequately accommodate either certain local interests or dispersed interests (1969:210). Analysis of the political struggles within women's voluntary associations and between the parapolitical and formal structure is important not only to understanding the political lives of women but to comprehension of the public realm in its entirety. While it is a useful heuristic device to impose artificial separations between the parapolitical and the political, ultimately they must be reunited. When both aspects are viewed as components within one central competition for the same resources, rewards, and positions of influence, this unity is possible. Finally, it must be kept in mind that women's political involvement does not exist apart from their participation in a wide range of social institutions and situations that involve men and women. Analysis of organizations at the community level 7 entails consideration of the bases of women's support within family and kin groups. Where politics are closely tied to kin networks, as in this case , women and men engage in c o m m o n political struggles and employ c o m m o n political strategies. Nevertheless, contradictions between male interests and female interests also co -exist. Analysis must proceed with the coexistence of gender unity and gender conflicts in mind. Political models that allow for consideration of the full range of 24 women's political actions and loyalties in relation to male political agendas are essential. Consequently, this study employs an analytical framework that, on the one hand, illuminates a political process common to women and men, while on the other hand, identifies the opportunities, constraints and political obligations that are particular to women's experiences. A s indicated earlier, contemporary case studies of indigenous women's social position have not concentrated either on their direct political involvement or on their exercising of public power. Rather, they have focussed on analysis of women's position vis-a-vis men. Two trends in theoretical explanations of women' status have developed. Historical materialists debate whether or not capitalism is directly responsible for women's position, and, if so , whether subjugation of colonized, indigenous women is inevitable (Anderson 1985; Albers 1983; Etienne and Leacock 1980; Leacock 1978; 1986). Others argue that cultural and social traditions uphold precapitalist relationships (Sanday 1981; Klein 1975; Powers 1986). This study takes both views into account. I maintain that in order to understand fully women's political involvement we need to identify the material and nonmaterial resources available to them, their ability to control these resources, and the cultural matrix which values or devalues women's reproductive, economic, and social roles. M e t h o d o l o g y This study is based primarily upon field research within the tradition of "community studies." My objective, in Arensberg's terms is to study social conditions in "their full natural, living setting and relationship" (1954:111). While this 25 study concerns itself with the over-all picture of community life, its particular focus is upon the lives of women, especially women who form, or who are perceived to form, an elite core of community leaders. I did not, however, confine myself to the situations or social interpretations of female leaders, or even to those of women more generally. I sought as well views of men. When dealing with women and men, I attempted to identify informants whose understanding of the past was most extensive and whose participation within the political structures gave them advantages of insight and experience. Nevertheless, there is a bias towards female informants. Amongst the elders, women outnumber men. Few men worked at the administrative office during the research period, and these individuals were not necessarily the best informants. One was a white man, another a young man who did not belong to the band but who resided there as a consequence of his personal relationships. In general, access to women's views is much easier for the female ethnographer. A s I have stated elsewhere (Fiske 1986), and as I will elaborate below, female elders are honoured for their cultural and historical knowledge. Men turn to well- informed women for their own understanding and direct the outsider to these same women when asked questions they cannot or prefer not to answer. The female perspective of this study, therefore, not only comes from the preference of the researcher, but also reflects attitudes of the informants. Community study requires several complementary forms of data collection. Observation of and participation in routine events lie at its heart. Complement ing 26 observational learning are data collected through formal and informal interviews, census data, and archival searches. I spent a year, 1983-84, doing field research during which time 9 months were spent living on the reserve in the home of a mother and her teenaged daughter. Return visits were made during the early winter through to the summer of 1985, the latter being a two month stay at the home of another woman who then lived on her own. For several months I was hired by the band council to research historical land use and settlement patterns. I worked out of the band office with the assistance of one Saik'uz woman. This project enabled me to interview men more easily than otherwise would have been the case and to participate more fully in village affairs. A s a hired researcher I was able to attend important political meetings within the region, to represent band interests at the provincial level, and to search state documents which otherwise would have been c losed to me. I participated in women's voluntary association activities and in women's fishing, family celebrations, and community events. The last point raises questions of ethics. Given the current political climate regarding land claims and aboriginal rights, knowledge of land use and territorial claims is sensitive. Consequently, this dissertation provides few specifics with regard to resource use and land tenure. In order to honour expectations of confidentiality (throughout all names used are fictitious), I have focussed primarily upon women's political strategies, paying less attention to specific details of political issues related to resource management, aboriginal rights, and land claims. 27 The need to appreciate the sensitivity of resource related problems is but one of several factors that direct the way research can be done in Saik'uz. First, Carrier tradition places a priority on observational learning. Direct questions and intensive inquiries are not appreciated. S e c o n d , observation goes hand in hand with participation. Learning is not disconnected from involvement in community life. Women in particular stress a holistic view of learning that leads to particular accomplishments. For them, to understand the technology and procedures of netting salmon, for example, is to enter freely into the work and thus to contribute to a household and/or community economic activity. Third, it is expected that outsiders who observe and record community life or who record oral histories will in their turn, contribute to the community. Engagement in community projects or contribution of relevant work from outside the community is sought as a reasonable exchange for what is taken from the people, particularly from the elders. Fourth, there are issues other than those related to confidential research on the resource base that are sensitive in nature. Social behaviours and attitudes which meet with general disapproval or which are ill understood or stigmatized by outsiders are d iscussed reluctantly, if at all. Problems of family violence, alcohol dependency, and adolescent rebellion are only occasionally d iscussed. Similarly, knowledge d e e m e d "precious" has been kept confidential, particularly with respect to spiritual beliefs, women's fertility, and menstruation. Although these matters may be d iscussed privately, they cannot be related to a larger, more open audience for fear they will be either misconstrued or mocked . 28 These concerns are not rare. Increasingly, ethnographers describe the distrust and even displeasure expressed towards outsiders who write about native Indian communities. (Blackman 1982:16; Colson 1953:xii; Klein 1975:30; Mitchell 1976). A s Klein points out, studied communities are justifiably concerned that their images not be cast negatively (1975:30-31). This creates a particular problems for the researcher and can limit the nature of ethnographic documentation. With this in mind, I have confined discussion of such sensitive material in two ways. "Precious" - knowledge is referred to categorically, but without inclusion of details considered private. For example, female puberty seclusion is mentioned, but personal experiences are not. Reference to socially sensitive behaviours s u c h as alcohol dependency and family violence occurs primarily within the context of informants' statements and only where such behaviours impinge upon the subjects of analysis: women's public roles and political strategies. The understanding of the elders and councillors who approved this research was clear: I would focus on two issues, namely, the historical transformation of women's daily lives and their present day accomplishments. In consequence I have not collected the same detailed data about men's lives as I have about women. The lack of detail about men also reflects some concerns of the female elders. They often feel that men have suffered differently from women under colonialism. The social frustrations faced by men who encounter unending poverty and unemployment have led to behaviours considered inappropriate, and this acutely distresses the Carrier people. They are also disturbed by the negative stereotypes 29 and unsympathetic responses of the dominant society. My undertaking with the community, therefore, was to limit my research as far as possible to the more immediate issues of the political process and to accentuate the underlying issues of family and community responsibility. Organizat ion This study begins with an introduction to the people and their environment. The next chapter provides a description of contemporary life from the outsider's perspective. Then, working from the written historical record, I summarize the history of the Central Carrier. In Chapter 3 I focus on changes in the gender division of labour and social responsibilities within a transformed material and social context. In Chapter 4, I offer a short discussion of outsiders' views of women and menstrual pollution. I then investigate Carrier perspectives. First, I turn to an analysis of sexual meanings and symbols in Carrier myth. The early myths depict strong images of respected and honoured women; old woman upon whom the creator heroes were dependent, and young medicine women and adolescents who confronted and destroyed uncontrolled male powers. This is the cosmological matrix from which the contemporary women emerge. It holds the ideological base for women's current ideals and personal survival strategies. I then look at the various interpretations given to the past and to the changes in women's social, economic, and political status. This leads to an investigation of women's lives and their perceptions of their social and domestic responsibilities. Contemporary women are motivated to political 30 action by traditional ideals of feminine achievement and by strong commitment to their families' well being. Therefore in Chapter 5, I concentrate on how family decision making and domestic authority facilitate female leaders' entry in the socio-political structure imposed by Euro-Canadian society. Chapters 6 and 7 provide an analysis of social organization in relation to women's domestic and community responsibilities. Women's political strategies are analyzed in Chapter 8. The ability of female leaders to assume a key role in the internal politics of Saik'uz is analyzed and then situated within the broader political forces which encapsulate reserve life. Chapter 9 turns to other studies of native Indian women's participation in local-level politics. In this chapter, I present a summary of the major findings of these studies in order to draw out the theoretical implications of my own case study. In the final chapter I present my summary and conclusions. 31 CHAPTER TWO SAIK'UZ TODAY Introduction This chapter offers a brief introduction to the Carrier people, their land, and the village life of the Stoney Creek band. The purpose is to introduce the social and economic issues central to political decision-making. I describe the village, its economic situation, and its administrative structure. I then outline the major political issues that tie Saik'uz to the larger political structures and shape intravillage political life. The People The Carrier Indians are an Athapaskan-speaking people with cultural traditions similar to ones of their Athapaskan neighbours, the Sekani to the north, the Beaver to the north east, and the Chilcotin to the southwest (Map 1). Anthropologists and linguists have divided the Carrier peoples into three groups on the basis of similar dialect and social organization. Morice offers a tripartite linguistic division of the Carrier: the Western or Babine Carrier of the Bulkley Valley and Babine Lake, the Upper Carrier of the Nechako Plateau, and the Lower Carrier south of the Nechako Plateau. Duff and Hudson also provide a tripartite division. Goldman makes a sociopolitical division between Upper and Lower Carrier. The Upper Carrier include all groups influenced by the Gitksan sociopolitical system, 32 Map 1 I n d i a n s o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ( A d a p t e d f r o m D u f f 1 9 6 4 : 1 4 ) . 33 and the Lower Carrier comprise the southern groups who remained outside this influence. Tobey avoids using a tripartite division, referring instead to the Carrier as a tribe, a "linguistic grouping," and to fourteen subtribes, which she defines as "named and localized socioterritorial units (1981:413)." O n the basis of linguistic similarities, Walker and Wilkinson also offer a tripartite division (Walker et al. 1974). They label the north eastern bands of the Stuart Tremblay region as well as those centrally located on the Nechako River as Central Carrier (Map 1). Kari points out that linguistic differences between the Carrier of the Babine and Bulkley regions and the remainder of the Carrier are sufficiently distinct to consider the dialect of the Babine and Bulkley areas to be a distinct language. Map 2 shows the Carrier internal divisions and their subdivisions of the late nineteenth century according to Tobey and H u d s o n . 1 At the time of contact with Europeans, the Carrier peoples consisted of twelve localized units; each was named after a geographical feature and each had one or more semi-permanent villages (Hudson 1972). The subdivisions of the Carrier were labelled septs by Morice (1893), subtribes by Jenness (1943) and Duff (1951), and bands by Hudson (1972). The localized units were not unified political entities. A c o m m o n dialect, marriage and kinship ties, and an interest in c o m m o n resources underlay the social cohesion of each subdivision. Relations between the divisions were amicable (Tobey 1 Tobey 's classification has been altered with respect to the Tl'azt'enne (Stuart-Trembleur Band). She identifies them as the Tachiwoten, but according to Hudson (1983:49) the Tachiwoten were a village group of the Tl'azt'enne. 34 Map 2 I n t e r n a l D i v i s i o n s of t h e C a r r i e r ( A d a p t e d f r o m Tobey 1981:414; Hudson 1972:173; Hudson 1983:49). 1981:415). Economic , kinship, and ceremonial relations were independently established by each village (Hudson 1972:100). The social organization and ceremonial behaviour of various subdivisions were most readily distinguished by the varying presence of coastal cultural traits. Prior to European contact, the Lower Carrier engaged in regular trade and ceremonial exchanges with the Bella Coola, while the Central Carrier of the Nechako River turned to the Gitksan. The term Carrier is a misnomer. It is an English gloss for a term applied by the neighbouring groups in reference to a cultural practice not known amongst themselves, namely, widows carrying on their backs the relics of their deceased husbands throughout a lengthy mourning period (Morice 1892:111). The origins of other terms applied by the Europeans, Negailer (Alexander Mackenzie) and Tacuilies (Harmon) are obscure and have fallen into disuse. Although the collective term Carrier continues to be recognized, there is a growing preference on their part for reverting to the aboriginal practice of designating social identity according to membership in the indigenous subdivisions, indicated by the suffix tenne (glossed as "people"), and by reference to an individual's village, indicated by the suffix woten (glossed as "people of..." [cf. Hudson 1983:49]). The three labels given to indicate linguistic distinctions are rarely used by the Carrier. This study is concerned with the Carrier who are known as the Stoney Creek Band or the Saik'uz Whut'enne, "people of Stoney Creek," an aggregation of the Nulkiwoten and Tachickwoten shown on Map 2. The dialect of the Saik'uz Whut'enne 36 has been categorized as Central (Walker et al. 1974) and the people as a band of the Upper Carrier (Hudson 1972:13). It must be noted, however, that the contemporary population descends from Lower and Central Carrier groups. According to the Saik'uz Whut'enne, depopulation and economic changes in the nineteenth century forced several dispersed populations to Saik'uz, where they merged with the Tachickwoten and Nulkiwoten who were established nearby. 2 Consequently, the cultural traditions of contemporary Saik'uz Whut'enne contain features drawn from several aboriginal groups. The people of Stoney Creek constitute an "Indian band" as defined in the Indian Act. At the time of research, band membership was 465, with some 360 residing regularly on the reserve. T h e L a n d Prior to Euro-Canadian contact, the territory of the Carrier e n c o m p a s s e d a large portion of the region now known as the central interior of British Columbia. It is a rugged region marked by numerous rivers, streams, lakes, and swamps that lie between a series of high plateaus and ranges of low mountains and hills. The climate throughout the area is reasonably uniform. Summers are cool and short. Frost free periods rarely exceed more than six weeks. Winters are long. Although very cold periods d o occur in mid-winter, they are not overly severe or of long duration. 2 Jenness informs us of the merging of the villages of Nulki Lake and Tachick Lake but makes no mention of the aggregation of peoples from further away (1943:586). 37 The forests consist primarily of spruce, fir, and lodgepole pine, the former two now being of considerable importance to the forest industry. Birch, northern black cottonwood, and aspen are also c o m m o n species. Stands of willow and a variety of low lying shrubs line the river beds and lake shores. A m o n g those important to the Carrier are the huckleberry, raspberry, blueberry, saskatoon berry, and s o a p berry. A variety of grasses and flowering plants are also found throughout the area. The region supports a variety of mammals and waterfowl. Prior to 1850, caribou were found in the area, apparently never in large numbers. The moose , which did not appear until early in this century, is now c o m m o n (Hudson 1983:65; Cranny 1986:22). According to Cranny, the mule deer is increasing and expanding its territory. Other sizeable mammals to be found are the wolf, coyote, lynx, black bear, and grizzly. Small fur bearing mammals were abundant when Europeans arrived in 1805, and beaver, mink, muskrat, fisher, marten, otter, weasel, hare, marmot, and fox are all still found within the area. The region is summer home to a variety of migrating waterfowl, several of which were once important to the Carrier. The whistling swan, C a n a d a goose , several species of duck, grebes, and loon are still found in large numbers. A wide variety of fishes are also found within this region. Fish resources include two species of salmon: the sockeye, which has been a primary food resource, and the spring or chinook. Sturgeon are known in the large lakes and rivers, and char, kokanee, rainbow trout, suckers, Columbia River dace , burbot, and mountain white fish are found throughout the region. According to Cranny (1986) 38 and Hudson (1983), fish provided the basic subsistence of the aboriginal Carrier. Although early observers (Harmon 1957:152, 247-48; H B C A B.188/a/2 fo.56d, cited by Cranny 1986:53) stress the importance of sockeye salmon as the dietary staple, there is evidence that other fish species were of considerable significance as well. Dramatic fluctuations in salmon migrations suggest that the sockeye was not always sufficient to subsistence needs (Cranny 1986:18; Hudson 1983:46-47). Since 1805, when the first fur trading posts were established, resource exploitation has been shaped by capitalist interests in a series of staple resources exploited for distant markets. During the first half of the nineteenth century, furs were the staple resource. Gold was significant for a few years between 1860 and 1880. Settlement and agricultural development in the Nechako River Valley began in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but it did not b lossom until the G r a n d Trunk Railway was completed in 1914. The forestry industry has expanded rapidly since 1940. Large pulp and paper mills and sawmills, owned by transnational corporations, have operated since the 1960s and now provide the economic mainstay of the Central Interior. Large-scale resource development and state limitations on a c c e s s to crown lands have reduced the resource areas of the Carrier to lands set aside as Indian reserves. Residence in a reserve village is now central to Carrier social identity. T h e Vi l lage The contemporary village of Saik'uz (Stoney Creek) is located in Reserve Number 1, the largest of the Stoney Creek Band's reserves, a short distance from 39 Nulki and Tachick Lakes (Map 3). It is difficult to determine precisely how long a village has stood here or what its relations were to the settlements of the Nulkiwoten and Tachickwoten. There is evidence to suggest that unlike most Carrier villages, Stoney Creek, also known as Sy-cuz in the nineteenth century (Morice 1892), emerged as a permanent settlement at its present site only after it became a stopping place for itinerant travellers, such as priests and traders. The village appears to have grown when the Hudson Bay C o m p a n y established a temporary trading post there. By the mid-nineteenth century, it had eclipsed the settlements on the shores of Nulki Lake (then known as Laketown) and Tachick Lake. Over the past century, the population at Laketown has dwindled to fewer than 20 regular residents. Other former fishing stations and settlements are now visited only for seasonal resource exploitation. Today, Saik'uz is a small reserve village with a permanent population of some 360 residents. Partially sheltered from the adjacent ranches by the forested reserve that surrounds it, the village is divided by a busy highway, formerly an aboriginal trading route known as the "grease trail." The creek from which the village and its people take their names meanders between the houses and links Nulki and Tachick Lakes. There is little to attract the attention of casual visitors or strangers passing through the reserve. Apart from the houses, there is little development. Village social life revolves around the community hall and baseball d iamond. The hall, a plain, simple, frame building with adjacent "totem poles" commemorating the 40 Scale is also applicable to inset. Map 3 I n d i a n R e s e r v e s No . 1-8 o f S t o n e y C r e e k Band 41 provincial centennial of confederation is rarely empty. Here the people gather regularly for meetings, potlatches, in Carrier balhats (from the Chinook jargon for giving away), children's dance practices, and weekly bingo games , as well as for private celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries. Throughout the winter and spring the elders and children gather weekly for Indian dancing, a blend of competitive Cree dances popular at intertribal pow wows, and traditional Carrier social dances with their attendant singing and drumming. In front of the hall is one of the two baseball d iamonds. From early spring, to September the baseball diamond is the focus of social activity. The village boasts three ball teams (two women's and one men's) that play in regional native and mixed leagues. The men's team is a serious contender in regional and provincial tournaments. Their games attract crowds of supporters who c o m e to enjoy the festive atmosphere of the tournaments and to demonstrate their pride in their athletic ambassadors . Other public buildings serve more serious interests. The craft centre, a single room, log building is used for adult education c lasses, spiritual meetings, and a miscellany of social gatherings. Saturday and Sunday m a s s e s are held in the small c lapboard church. Otherwise it stands empty except for funerals and the occasional wedding. The laundromat, not easily recognized as such , for it, too, is an attractive log structure, is in continuous use and offers an opportunity for people to visit while tending to routine domestic tasks. Further into the village, across the creek, one finds a new health clinic, the band administrative offices, and a two room school . 42 There kindergarten, alternate secondary, and adult c lasses are held. The school yard has few items of playground equipment for the young children. B e y o n d the school lie a few rather isolated homes separated by open fields and woods . A short distance from the village centre stands a small store, owned by a woman resident on the reserve. Here one can buy candy, sundries, canned g o o d s , and souvenirs either marked Stoney Creek or "Sai Kuz." The store serves the occasional needs of most villagers, white families who live nearby, and passers by. Above the store counter is a hand printed sign saying "No Credit," but in fact few reserve residents are without accounts here. For some, whose income is pitifully small and who are plagued by constant shortfalls in cash, credit is essential. A s the reserve slopes downward to the western shore of Nulki Lake and away from the village there are few homes, and these are surrounded by open fields. Privately owned ranches separate the main reserve from Laketown (Reserve 3, Map 3). Laketown was once a separate community of family farms and fishing stations with its own church. All that remains are four homes and a large cross of peeled logs marking the former cemetery. Today, one older woman dwells at Laketown. She shares her home with grandchildren and great grandchildren, and infrequently her son . The other houses are used intermittently, two by brothers who alternate residence between Laketown and Vancouver, five hundred miles to the south. A footpath connects this cluster of homes to two other homes on the lake shore. Owned by a brother and his sister, they are sheltered from the road by trees and invisible to the passing traffic. Maps from the Stoney Creek 43 administration office include one more homesite in the Laketown community, although it falls outside of designated reserve boundaries. This property is owned by a nonstatus member of Saik'uz who was enfranchised in the 1950s, but who remains active in the community. 3 The federal government did not establish reserve lands for the Stoney Creek band until 1892. By then white settlers had established themselves on lands situated around the fishing sites on Nulki and Tachick Lakes. Hence the band no longer p o s s e s s e s its former unbroken tract of territory that once connected the Tachick and Nulki fishing sites. In all, five discrete reserves were allotted between the lakes' shores. O n the fifth, and most remote, lives a solitary family, a young woman, her white husband , and infant child. More distant reserves are used for pasture, fishing, and hunting. Social pleasures are concentrated in the reserve village or are pursued in nearby Vanderhoof. Organized social activities rarely involve the surrounding Euro-Canadian families. Individuals develop friendships or affinal kin relations with members of the dominant population. These relationships, however, d o not weaken the social cohesion of the village or intrude into its ties to neighbouring Carrier 3 Enfranchisement or loss of Indian status refers to the process whereby. Indians (primarily men) were granted full Canadian citizenship while simultaneously loosing their rights to residence on a reserve, to share in a band's resources, and to benefit from the services offered by DIAND. Enfranchisement was not always voluntary. Rather under conditions specified by the Indian Act (1951) it could be imposed by the state. Men lost status (i.e., became enfranchised) when, as adults, they were enfranchised or when, as minor children their fathers were enfranchised. Others are nonstatus because their status Indian mothers married non-Indians. 44 bands and the dispersed native populations either of Vanderhoof 20 kilometers to the north or of Prince George some 90 kilometers to the east. A s for the Euro-Canadians, few apart from state and school representatives or affinal kin visit the village. Infrequently, weekend beach parties attract a crowd from town, but these events d o not lead to lasting social relations. Sports fishers and hunters have little social interaction with the reserve members. Saik'uz suffers visibly from a chronic shortage of money. For the most part the homes are small with few comforts beyond the basic necessities. Several are still without water. For the individual homeowners, outbuildings are rare. The older houses have a wood shed , storage shed, and perhaps a smoke house of simple construction. With two exceptions, garages or carports and workshops are unknown. The newer houses, now built with basements, have been placed on small lots along the village roads and clustered together for the most economical provision of water and sewage services. Their small lots look bare and empty in compar ison to the yards of the older homes, which appear cluttered and disorderly to the casual visitor. The untutored eye fails to recognize them as the centre of women's work. With their variety of equipment, work tables, garden plots, smoke houses, boats and canoes, as well as laundry facilities such as basins and lines, the yards contain what is necessary for the women to provide for their families. In the yards, men's possess ions also accumulate: car and truck parts and bodies, always needed for repairs, and miscellaneous machinery and equipment are kept on hand. 45 The federal government finances the costs of houses, which are allocated to the Saik'uz band council through the Carrier Sekani Tribal Counci l . But the housing allocation is woefully inadequate, and each year the new homes added seem only to keep pace with the loss of condemned buildings and the increased requests of nonresidents to return to the reserve, s o that the annual improvement in accommodat ion is negligible. Members of the band who reside elsewhere but would prefer to live on the reserve have little hope of doing s o because of lack of accommodat ion and reliable employment. Compound ing the problems of housing is the residents' inability to maintain and improve existing homes. Because older homes, even those built as recently as fifteen years ago , were not constructed according to reasonable standards for heavy family use in a harsh climate, they not only deteriorate quickly, they lack many of the amenities and extras that would make them more suitable for the large families which inhabit them. Repair and remodelling costs are beyond the incomes of most residents; the only alternative is to seek government aid through a rural homeowner's assistance program. These funds are insufficient to meet the needs of all villagers, s o each year many must go without. Substandard housing quickly takes on an appearance of neglect and misuse that contrasts sharply with the newer homes with their modern, suburban image. The shortage of money is further revealed by the lack of community facilities, services, and maintenance. A quonset hut, once intended as a fire hall, lies crumpled on its side, a victim of high winds. The street pavement has been raised 46 by frost only to sink deeply into its gravel bed . Playground equipment for the children is minimal and aging, while indoor recreational facilities are nonexistent. Beyond the village, at the Nulki lake shore, a partially completed log building, a potlatch house that is intended to serve as a cultural centre, speaks to the aspirations of a village frustrated by inadequate resources and dependency upon irregular and unpredictable state financing. The Economics of Dependency The socio-economic conditions of Saik'uz are best characterized as "welfare colonialism" or "welfare dependency" (Tanner 1983:2). At all levels of economic management, from personal reliance on social assistance payments to the development of small enterprises, the people are dependent upon funding from the federal government. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs provides monies for community administration, education, social assistance, housing and maintenance of community services. Other federal departments contribute lesser amounts. Health and Welfare, Secretary of State, and Canadian Employment and Immigration contribute to community services, adult training, job creation schemes, and cultural programs. Most of the funds pass directly from the state agencies to the band's elected council , to be managed by the council's administrative staff. Some, however, circulate through the administration of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council , an umbrella association with fourteen member bands. Housing funds, for example, are handed over to the tribal council to be redistributed among the competing bands. Other 47 funds, earmarked for small community development s c h e m e s and job creation programs, are obtained by voluntary associations. The federal government's dominant position in the local e c o n o m y is strengthened by the community's inability to raise its own taxes or to freely exploit its natural resources. Under the provisions of the Indian Act, the Minister of Indian Affairs retains the right to control exploitation of natural resources. Without either a land base large enough for self- sufficiency or adequate resources necessary to create independent, small businesses, capital that does c o m e to Saik'uz immediately flows out to neighbouring commercial centres. The small store provides no revenue to the band, and currently it is the only business enterprise on reserve land. The majority of adults are directly and immediately dependent upon state subsidies and income support, whether they are employed on the reserve or dependent upon social assistance. Only three women are employed steadily off the reserve, one as a cook in a parochial school , one as a teaching assistant in adult education at the local college, and one as a Carrier language instructor in the Catholic school system. Permanent jobs on the reserve are provided by the elected band council . Twelve women, eight working full time, are employed as administrative and support staff. Another six women work a few hours a week providing home services to the elders, but this offers only a minimum wage and an insecure source of employment. The men fare no better. In fact they are not s o fortunate. It is rare to find more than three men employed steadily on the reserve. During the spring and 48 summer months, when federal agencies fund short term employment, more men are working. Housing construction and repair, and forestry work can employ up to twenty individuals for twenty weeks, the minimum period of employment required to receive unemployment insurance. In addition to work on the reserve, a handful of men are employed elsewhere. Two work in a sawmill, three with the department of highways, and one with a small logging firm that has a permit to harvest timber on lands designated for agricultural development. The last man also traps and works as a casual ranch-hand. Bush activities for the men remain severely limited. Trapping is a poor source of income and requires a capital investment that men are unable to raise independently. The largest line, once shared by a number of trappers but now worked by one man, offers a gross income of no more than $20,000.00 if worked to its total potential-an impossible task given that the provincial government has issued permits for two decades of continuous logging within its boundaries. Other lines are either too small to provide adequate returns or have been depleted by logging, recreational use, and nearby residential development. The current regional economic situation is grim. Due to the failure of international markets, forestry is experiencing hard times. For those women and men who desire work, the prospects are very poor indeed. Opportunities are limited to casual labour on such short-term projects as forestry maintenance projects, summer fire fighting, and fruit picking in the Okanagan orchards to the south. In the 4 9 face of underemployment, dependence upon the federal government for personal income is inescapable for the majority. The Administrative Structure Another consequence of a state controlled economy has been the creation of a small bureaucracy at the band level. A s indicated above, the b a n d administrative structure, consisting of an elected band council and its hired staff, acts in accordance with state policies. Five councillors, one of them a chief councillor, are elected every two years. They administer the Saik'uz band according to the mandate set out in the Indian Act. Eligible electors include all the listed members over the age of twenty-one. (Prior to 1984 only reserve residents were eligible to vote and/or run for office. Thereafter, the band received ministerial approval to include nonresidents.) The band council has limited powers. With the approval of the minister of Indian Affairs, it can establish by-laws regulating use of reserve lands. It can also monitor s o m e aspects of personal behaviour (such as property maintenance), administer the band budget, and allocate community resources: housing, education assistance, and funds for home repairs, for example. Beyond these limited powers, the council does not have a clearly defined social or economic function. The chief, or a councillor appointed by her/him, acts as the band delegate to the monthly Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and as the delegate to provincial organizations representing such specific interests as fisheries, forestry, or trapping. Other council members are involved in extra-community affairs as alternate delegates for the chief 50 councillor and/or as representatives on a variety of associations pertaining to issues of economic development, social welfare, education, and band management and planning. In practice, the elected council is an extension of state bureaucracy. The main function of the administrative structure is to dispense g o o d s and services flowing from the state. Hence, the elected council is subject to outside authorities that ultimately determine acceptable distribution of its subsidies and programs. Frequently the council must act within an atmosphere of confusion and contradictory information. As formulated by DIAND, state policies not only change in a seemingly arbitrary and confusing manner, they are fully communicated neither to the council nor to its committees. Advisory notices are received from the regional DIAND office by the administrative staff and duplicated for each band councillor. But these circulars are of a bureaucratic nature. Their jargon and cryptic language are not understood readily. Moreover, their significance is buried beneath vague references to established policy mandates and Other circulars, often referred to only by a file number. Confusion results in considerable dissension over what the state intends and what it will permit the.counci l to do. Within this atmosphere of uncertainty, a council 's actions can be justified either as an appropriate response to state articulated rules and regulations or, alternatively, as the "Indian Way" of looking after one's people. The elected council does not operate alone. Three advisory committees are appointed by the council. They offer advice on housing allocation, 51 on education policies, such as student/teacher relationships and education budget administration, and on child welfare, including emergency care and parental workshops. It is generally accepted that the council should take directions from its advisory committees which are appointed to ensure that the administration understands and adheres to traditional concepts of leadership. All too frequently the two are contradictory. Advisory committees, particularly those dominated by elders, call upon the chief and council to intervene in family disputes, to control access to alcohol, to provide services to nonstatus residents, and to encourage self-help and community sharing. Since the council lacks the authority to act in this regard, it often yields to the expectations of government personnel, being careful to act within the minor powers permitted by the Indian Act. Self-administration was introduced to Saik'uz by DIAND in the early 1970s. The administrative staff comprises five administrative positions: the band manager, education co-ordinator, social welfare worker, child welfare worker, and a maintenance supervisor. In addition, it employs a community health representative plus two alcohol and drug counsellors. The band manager and her staff administer an annual budget of approximately $800,000.00. Although the staff has some discretionary powers in its budgetary expenditures, the weight of responsibility lies with the regional DIAND office, which initially sets the departmental allocations for education, social assistance, maintenance, etc. The chief councillor has limited administrative privileges, however, all uses of funds not specifically mandated by DIAND--for example personal loans-must be approved by the band council. 52 The funds themselves are supervised closely by the state. In addition to routine review of the books by DIAND accountants, an independent monthly audit is required. Despite external and internal controls over the budget, its adminstration appears to be the most significant source of tension between the community at large, the band council, and the administrative staff. Dissension over budget allocation arises over welfare assessments, employment, recreation funds (primarily in support of the ball teams) and miscellaneous personal expenses. Each member of the administrative staff is responsible for independent decisions that directly affect individual members of the community. They classify the qualifications of each social assistance recipient and hence determine the rate of monthly assistance payments, allocate educational allowances for post secondary students, and determine other numerous but small, financial matters. A s well, the band manager is responsible for hiring seasonal and part-time workers, which is always a bone of contention since the jobs are few and short term, while the unemployed are many. Sharing a c o m m o n work place draws the staff together as a distinct social unit that shares interests and concerns not faced by other reserve residents. The social unity of the administrators is strengthened by their c o m m o n attendance-at the expense of the band~at political and cultural events sponsored by the tribal council and other bands. They attend education and health conferences, inter-tribal alcohol and drug abuse events, and local workshops run by both native and nonnative organizations. 53 The social unity of the administrative and support staff is enhanced by the fact that most are women. Clerical and service work is viewed as female work in the same way as in the dominant society. This means that women are far more likely than men to be hired by the band council. It also means that most employees will be young or middle aged women with secondary or post -secondary education. The consequences of underdevelopment reach beyond the emergence of a bureaucracy to penetrate the most intimate decisions and social interactions of the band members. The economics of welfare colonialism means that the band council and administrators assume control over resources and decisions that elsewhere would be considered private. Furthermore, these decisions never rest solely in the hands of the band's administrative structure but are subject to state intervention. T h e Polit ical i s s u e s The Saik'uz Whut'enne confront the same critical political issues as d o other aboriginal people across Canada: land claims, environmental protection and management, self-determination and self-defined band membership, and a continual, struggle against poverty and its attendant social crises, such as, alcohol and drug abuse and family conflict. The band council does not act independently on many of these issues. Instead its interests are represented to the state through the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council under the direction of the Council 's elected executive and its administrative officers. Concerns over regional economic development draw the band and tribal council into confrontations with the provincial and federal governments. Few 54 economic or environmental issues are acted on independently at the b a n d level. Moreover, neither the band council nor the tribal council represents all Carrier interest groups. At the time of research, major economic development in the region was being proposed by the Alcan corporation, a Canadian b a s e d multinational aluminum company. Alcan wished to expand its production of hydro electric power by further damming of the Nechako river (it had built Kenny Dam in 1952 to power its smelter in Kitimat on the Pacific coast). It has now proposed constructing a new aluminum smelter in central British Columbia. One of its contemplated sites is located within the traditional trapping and hunting territory of the Saik'uz Whut'enne. Alcan's proposed development has been resisted by the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council , which fears that, among other long term effects, the lower water tables resulting from further hydro electric development will threaten the annual sockeye run. Consequently, study of the environmental and social impacts of Alcan's expansion was co-ordinated by the tribal council on behalf of its member bands. Nonetheless, the Carrier are not united in their strategies to protect the environment. Individual women of Saik'uz have joined local environmental activists struggling to minimize rather than to prevent entirely further damage to the Nechako River, a strategy disapproved of by the tribal council leaders. Also divisive at both the band and tribal levels is support for Alcan development voiced by individuals who hope that it may lead to employment for Carrier men. 55 Further conflict is generated when voluntary associations take up the issue, as I will d iscuss later. Suffice it to say here that in 1983, Alcan, along with other corporations and community service groups, provided funds for job creation s c h e m e s directed towards status and nonstatus youth who had particular difficulty obtaining jobs. Acceptance of these jobs by a voluntary association with executive members from Saik'uz created further tensions with the tribal council. The Carrier Sekani tribal council also co-ordinates research and negotiations for the Carrier's specific and comprehensive land claims. DIAND policy is to fund the collective claims of a number of small bands rather than to consider each band's claims independently. The Saik'uz Whut'enne, therefore, do not negotiate their claims directly with DIAND, or with any other federal or provincial agency including the courts, but act through the tribal council's consultants and legal advisers. Nor does the band council have autonomy with respect to constitutional negotiations surrounding aboriginal political rights. Again, representation of band concerns is in the hands of the tribal council. At the time of research, the only issue affecting constitutional negotiations for aboriginal rights that a band could confront independently was the question of women's Indian status and band membership. At that time, the Indian Act, Section 12(1)(b), ruled that a woman lost her status and band membership upon marriage to a non-Indian. Children of the marriage were also considered nonstatus Indians. The reverse was not true. Non-Indian women married to Indian men were granted Indian status, and s o were the children of the marriage. 56 L o s s of status and band membership created social tensions. W o m e n without status were stripped of their right to reserve residence, to burial in the reserve cemetery, and to the social services offered by DIAND. For many nonstatus Saik'uz Whut'enne, the most bitter loss was free access to their traditional food resources. The presence of nonstatus Indians on the Saik'uz reserve and their struggle to regain rights divides families and the community. Some families support the struggle for reinstatement and argue for provision of housing and other privileges to selected nonstatus families. Others oppose the residence of nonstatus women and uphold the Indian Act on the grounds that women should join their husbands' communities and raise their children there. Following years of protest from Indian women across C a n a d a and their appeal for international intervention from the Human Rights Committee under Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the federal government moved to end the discriminatory practice set out in 12(1)(b). In 1982, by means of a Governor General's proclamation, the federal government granted suspension of Section 12(1)(b) to individual bands upon their request (Schwartz 1986:330-31). It was not until 1984, that the Saik'uz band council exercised this option. Exemption from Section 12(1)(b) did not, of course, end the controversy over status and membership issues. Individual and band council interventions are affected by political lobbying groups, including the tribal council 's delegations to constitutional debates and urban-based native women's groups who 57 are locked in a contest with one another over constitutionally guaranteed sexual equality and a band's right to determine its membership (ibid.). Political decision making pertaining to widely-shared social problems is also influenced by the presence of community associations as well as by chapters of provincial voluntary associations. A s this study will show, women have relied on voluntary associations much more frequently than men. In some instances, particularly when the provincial government must be confronted on environmental, educational, and social issues, the women join intercultural associations and/or work closely with native women's organizations. W o m e n join national organizations funded by federal agencies such as Health and Welfare and the Women's program of the Secretary of State. These organizations operate independently of elected councils in the struggle to transform the social conditions of economic dependency: unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, substandard educational achievement, and family crises including child apprehension and conflict. The political issues confronting the Saik'uz Whut'enne are complex. Like any other community, Saik'uz is subordinated to provincial and federal mandates. The band council, cannot effect decisions of major importance. Environmental concerns, land claims, and economic development are mediated through the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council . Where band council decisions can be executed, in matters of purely local concern such as housing allocation and employment, personal and public interests flow together in a complex interchange of individual, family, and community competition for scarce resources. 58 The character of Saik'uz politics is further complicated by the interventions of the council 's administrative staff and advisory committees and by the interventions of voluntary associations. Through this intricate web of bureaucratic structures and voluntary associations, Saik'uz Whut'enne attempt to maintain control over their own lives. Before proceeding with an analysis of this process, and the particulars of women's involvement within it, it will be useful to consider the historical development of the Saik'uz band, paying particular attention to changing gender relations and the differential impact of colonization and industrialization upon women and men. 59 C H A P T E R T H R E E  H I S T O R Y O F T H E S A I K ' U Z W H U T ' E N N E Introduction Although my concern is with the contemporary, political c ircumstances of Carrier women, a review of early Carrier history and culture is required in order to understand current world views and social interactions. This chapter aims to reveal the historical transformation of economic relationships that have been a major factor in shaping the nature and quality of gender relationships. A s others have demonstrated, the causes of women's equality or subordination are internal to social systems (Sacks 1979:104-05; Albers 1983:179; Bourque and Warren 1981:82,211; Leacock 1986). Hence, women's roles must be analyzed in their historical and social contexts. The view is taken that this economic history is best seen in terms of the shifting fortunes of female versus male dominated institutions and economic advantages because, as this chapter will illustrate, from the demise of aboriginal subsistence economy to the present, economic advantages have accrued to women and men unequally. 1 I suggest that this swing in relative fortunes of women and 1 Margaret Blackman demonstrated a similar process for the Haida women. While she never argues that economic advantages resulted in clear political dominance, she does illustrate that women benefited from s o m e stages of colonialism and suffered from others (Blackman 1982). Albers analyzes the 60 men has played an important role in shaping women's current socio-political position. The elders' accounts in this chapter are taken from persons born in the first 15 years of the twentieth century or earlier. T a p e d oral histories of one former village chief, now deceased , were made available from his daughter. The excerpts of informants' statements are taken from taped interviews with nine elders: four women whose parent or grandparents lived at Cheslatta, 2 one woman with a parent from Shelley, a man and a woman who identify themselves as Tatukwoten, one woman with a parent from Nadleh, and one man with parents from Nulki and Tachick. Information from these elders was supplemented with interviews of two Nadleh elders (sisters) whose parents had been raised at Saik'uz. Another elderly woman, who preferred not to be taped, provided some stories of her grandmother and great-grandmother, both of whom lived at Nulki during the nineteenth century. Three of the narrators descend from families without claims to high status as ascr ibed by traditional culture; the remaining either are direct descendants of nineteenth century clan leaders and village chiefs, or are women married to men directly d e s c e n d e d from clan leaders and village chiefs. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of aboriginal social organization contradictions of colonialism for Sioux women and concludes that during periods of female economic advantages the balance of power shifts in favour of women (Albers 1983). 2 One elder spoke only Carrier, therefore taped translations were provided by her daughter. 61 and the impact of the fur trade. It concentrates on the ramifications of settlement/missionization, and modernization. Abor ig ina l Soc ia l Organizat ion Northern Athapaskan social organization was not uniform; diversity not only existed between various Athapaskan groups, but between the localized socio-territorial units, bands, of each group. Although it was earlier a s s u m e d that Eastern Athapaskan bands were patrilineal and patrilocal (Steward, 1961), it is now commonly argued that bilateral kinship ties provided the basic social unit through which critical social obligations were instituted. (Helm 1965; Riches 1981:18; Vanstone 1974:46; Wilson 1987:239). The Western Athapaskan of British Columbia, Yukon Territory, and Alaska had matrilineal descent groups (sibs and/or moieties or phratries) with hereditary leaders. Carrier socio-economic organization was equally diverse. The Algatcho, according to Goldman (1963), were essentially egalitarian with super imposed ranked patrilineal crest groups borrowed from the Bella Coo la . The Lower Carrier of Kluskus and Nazko were neither stratified nor divided into clans (Kew, cited in Tobey 1981:419). The Babine (Western) Carrier, however, were organized into ranked matriclans that controlled resource areas and whose members publicized their social status by potlatching (Jenness 1943). Saik'uz Whut'enne also had matriclans and potlatching, as did the Central Carrier of Stuart Lake. The theoretical implications of this diversity are significant. Go ldman (1963) and Steward (1961) argue that matrilineal organization and potlatching were 62 borrowed from coastal societies. Hudson disagrees; he asserts that ranked matriclan organization provided the framework for local resource control and a c c e s s to resources of other productive groups (1983:71). Conversely, Matson suggests few resources could have been easily controlled, and community ownership of fishing weirs was more likely than clan ownership (Matson 1985:250). Kew (cited by Tobey 1981:419) suggests organizational diversity may be the consequence of environmental variation. De Laguna (1971) asserts that matrilineality was very ancient a m o n g the Athapaskans. Dyen and Aberle (1974:410,418) postulate that most Athapaskans, including the Carrier, were originally matrilineal. Aberle believes "that rank was a feature of early Athapaskan social organization in the linguistic subgroup that Dyen and he label 'Canadian, ' and that where egalitarian band organization is found, it is a secondary development" (personal communication June 14, 1989). Legros found that nineteenth century Tutchone society was stratified; rich families monopol ized trading relations and the best resource areas; poor families lived as social inferiors or inhabited the poorest ecological zones (Legros 1985:38,62). Aberle points to the fact that the Tutchone recognized a hereditary nobility, the dannozhi . while the Carrier use dunezah to designate their nobility. Conversely, Ridington points out that among the egalitarian Beaver, who use dunne-za to refer to themselves as a people, the term has no connotation of nobility (Ridington 1978:iii). The alternative hypotheses are either the term was applied first by Proto-Athapaskans to a high ranking social division and used later by some groups as a self-identifying reference, or the reverse obtained. Its use to indicate stratification 63 a m o n g the Northern Tutchone and the Carrier, however, suggests its reference to a ranked position is earlier. 3  T h e ' U d a ' D u n e Accord ing to creation stories of the Saik'uz Whut'enne, the 'uda' dune, or "first people," settled at Tatuk. 4 Stas, the creator, gave each family a kevoh . 5 a hunting territory, and taught the people to manage the land and resources. E a c h kevoh was occup ied by a sadeku. a bilateral extended family. 6 Residence patterns appear to have been neolocal, although there may have been a virilocal preference (Goldman 1963:335). The first gathering of the 'uda' dune, called by Stas, is said to have provided 3 I am grateful to Dr. Aberle for bringing this to my attention. 4 There are two sources for these stories: taped oral histories dictated by a man, now d e c e a s e d , who was born in the 1880s and who is considered to have been well-informed about his parents' and grandparents' eras, and a man s o m e 20 years younger whose ancestors are from Tatuk. He, too, has an extensive knowledge or oral history and a large repertoire of traditional stories. 5 The term keyoh is said by the elders of Saik'uz to take its meaning from yoh. house, but in fact the term most frequently indicates the hunting area and fishing sites of the residential group. Walker et al.(1974:117) provide two meanings for keyoh: town and country. Aberle (personal communication 1988) notes that the Navajo kevah is a cognate with the Carrier term. The Navajo keyah refers to a "person's place," that is one's "home and surroundings." This cor responds to the meaning of the Carrier keyoh. Navajos offer a very different folk etymology for the term; they "gloss the ke of kevah as foot, and thus one's home is the place where one places one's foot." 6 Go ldman states that the Algatcho sadeku consisted of "a group of siblings [sic], their wives and children" (1963:334). He argues that residential g roups were bilateral. Following Goldman, Grossman (1965) describes the residential g roups as non-unilineal descent groups. 64 the prototype for subsequent gatherings, the du qhe hu'telh-dulh. or "the big gathering." E a c h family appointed a buts' owhudilhzulh-un. the "first person," to mediate interfamily disputes and to negotiate intergroup relations. Oral tradition states that as the people multiplied, they found they needed a system of "government" with undisputed leaders to mediate "all the problems of the people." Thus, say the elders, the big gathering was transformed to the potlatch, balhats. where authority resided with the clan leaders. We cannot be certain when the matrilineal system with its ranked positions and potlatches first appeared among the Saik'uz Whut'enne. 7 We do know that it existed by the mid-nineteenth century. By then, if not much earlier, they were divided into matrilineal clans, each with names, crests, and other intangible property held by its members. The Central Carrier were incorporated into the potlatch complexes of their coastal neighbours (Goldman 1963; 1941; Hudson 1972). 8 Early observers have left us contradictory accounts of women's position relative to men. Nevertheless, there exists considerable evidence strongly suggesting that to a large degree women enjoyed the same social opportunities as 7 Tobey (1981) provides a succinct statement on the debate concerning the antiquity of the potlatch and matrilineality among the Carrier. See , as well, Bishop (1983), Dyen and Aberle (1974), and Hudson (1983). 8 Whether or not the term balhats (balhach Walker et al.) displaced the use of du qhe hu'telh-dulh to refer to ceremonial feasts is unclear. Making a statement general to the Northwest Coast , Jorgensen (1980:145) states, "It is very likely that the development of the potlatch from distributions was a rather recent phenomenon stimulated by the desire of Europeans for furs and hides and the desire of Northwest Coast natives for trade goods.. . ." 65 did men. Goldman unequivocally describes the Lower Carrier as egalitarian. "Because of a relatively strong stress upon sex equality, the sex factor was of little significance" (1963:356). Within the sadeku. "the first born of a line of siblings, male or female, was the 'boss'" (Goldman 1963:358). Leadership beyond the sadeku was achieved; women and men became known as meotih. "chief (Goldman 1963:360,362). Speaking of the Stuart Lake Carrier, McLean maintains that, because of their significant economic contributions, women enjoyed a higher social esteem and greater privileges than known amongst other native groups (1932:180). The residential group formed an independent unit of production and consumption. The gender division of labour was flexible. MacKenzie commented that "[men] take a greater share in the labour of women than is c o m m o n a m o n g the savage tribes" (MacKenzie July 16; quoted by Sheppe 1962:210; also see Harmon 1903:249). Productive activities were organized by senior women and men. W o m e n gained prestige and economic importance with age as they a s s u m e d responsibilities for organizing women's task groups. A male elder states, Each family had two people in charge, like a boss. The mother was in charge of the girls and the father was in charge of the boys. A n d they trained them how to prepare food for drying and storage. That's what the mothers teach their daughters. A n d the boys learn how to trap and how to hunt. W o o d was their chore and they were taught by their fathers. It appears that the flexible gender division of labour permitted work to be shared by a marital couple and militated against the denigration of routine chores within the 66 camp, while at the same time, gender-discrete work groups provided a basis for gender autonomy. Accord ing to Hudson (1983:58) and Cranny (1986), primary resources, in order of importance, were fish, small game, and berries. Large mammals, being relatively scarce and difficult to obtain, were of minor significance. It appears, therefore, that women may have contributed the bulk of subsistence foods.ln spring, women netted and trapped spawning fish and returning waterfowl. During the summer salmon run, they fished with dip nets, usually upstream of the barricades or traps utilized by men, and split, cleaned and dried the salmon. When not busy with the salmon, women foraged for berries, which they also dried and stored for winter consumption. At the end of the salmon run, they travelled to their lakeside fishing sites (Morice 1904:21), to harvest and preserve Rocky Mountain white fish and char. Throughout the winter months, women and men snared, fished, and trapped, the women working close to home, the men further afield. Women stored the winter provisions in caches over which they exercised the rights of distribution. Accord ing to one elderly man: The women dried it and then put it in their caches. . . . I guess the women had their own boss. But the women worked together and they shared what they put up, just like we d o today. Accord ing to Morice, netting fish was associated with women's supernatural powers (1910:141), while berry production was highly prized (1910:21; n.d.:192,198). Very likely association of supernatural powers with women's fishing reflects the 67 importance of fresh water fish to the diet and the significance of women's work. McLean correctly links the high status of women to their subsistence production: A m o n g this tribe ... the women are held in much higher consideration than among other Indians: they assist at the councils, and some ladies of distinction are even admitted to the feasts. This consideration they doubtless owe to the efficient aid they afford in procuring the means of subsistence. The one sex is as actively employed during the fishing season as the other. The men construct the weirs, repair them when necessary, and capture the fish; the women split them u p - a most laborious operation when salmon is plentiful-suspend them on the scaffolds, attend to the drying, &c. They also collect berries, and dig up the edible roots that are found in the country, and which are of great service in years of scarcity. Thus the labour of the women contributes as much to the support of the community as that of the men (1932:180).9 W o m e n and men had equal access to valued resources. Although the data are sketchy on the question of inheritance, it seems women and men inherited different resource tracts and owned different property. 1 0 Morice stresses women's ownership of fishing and berry grounds and fish nets (1904:21; 1907:187; 1910:427;421). There is no indication that the development of ranked society disadvantaged 9 Jorgensen (1980: 151) states that "men dominated fishing pursuits everywhere in western North America," and argues further that men wove the basketry traps attached to weirs. This statement contradicts McLean and Harmon who describe women making fishing baskets and nets. 1 0 G o o d y has coined the term "homogeneous inheritance" to denote sex-linked transmission of property. He argues that modes of inheritance affect the arrangement of marriages and the nature of clans. While the Carrier data are not clear on inheritance practices, sex-linked property transmission does not appear to have alienated women from their fathers' resource areas as G o o d y suggests is the norm in Africa (Goody 1976:6-7). Apparently, women (or their husbands) were free to take resources in their fathers' territories after marriage. 68 women vis-a-vis men. Names and titles p a s s e d through the matriline to women and men, although men may have been favoured (Morice 1889:125; 142; 1906:202; M c L e a n 1932:180). Speaking of the Lower Carrier, Goldman declares, social status did not imply political power, [and] it is evident that rank distinctions were for the most part of no extraordinary social significance (1963:359). Morice suggests that leaders' authority was more persuasive than obligatory (1889:143). Evidently, high ranking women and men exercised similar influence (ibid.:124). Harmon (1903:209,261), Jenness (1943:501,521), McLean (1932:180,182) and Morice (1932:41; 1889:150) all mention the active participation of high ranking women at feasts and potlatches, and McLean and Morice stress the relative privileges these women enjoyed vis-a-vis lower ranking men and women (McLean 1932:182; Morice 1889:151). T h e Fur T r a d e 1806-1862 The Northwest C o m p a n y brought the fur trade directly to the Carrier in 1806. A s individuals obtained personal credit from and traded directly with the trading companies , trapping technology became available to all and its returns became viewed as individual property (Hudson 1983:85,86,88,103). Individualized dependence on an outside economic institution launched fundamental changes in social organization and resource management. Hudson suggests individual a c c e s s to trapping technology undermined dunezah control over fur production (1983:86). Bishop argues that ... "the atomizing effect of the fur trade ... made it difficult for nobles to accrue much power" (1983:154-155). Cranny concurs, asserting that as 69 early as the 1820s, depopulation in conjunction with individualized production resulted in smaller socio-economic units, undermining the influence of the dunezah (1986:80). The traders attempted to manipulate indigenous social hierarchies to their own end . While they sought personal relations with women, in hope of gaining influence over their male kin, the traders granted special social and economic privileges to influential men whom they dubbed "chiefs." These men received annual gratuities (Mulhall 1980:193), the best jobs and deferential treatment (Hudson 1983:94). Nonetheless, neither the village chief nor the dunezah had much control over production (Morice 1978:199; Hudson 1983:90,94). Whatever the effects may have been on dunezah control of production, potlatching persisted, and high ranking women lost neither social prestige nor access to names and titles. The impact of commodity production on the gender division of labour is not clear. The residential unit remained the subsistence production unit, and female leaders continued to organize women's collective labour. The fur trade may have enhanced women's productive significance. For even as they, too, t rapped , 1 1 women a s s u m e d greater responsibility for food production in order to compensate 1 1 W o m e n speak of their mothers and grandmothers routinely trapping alongside the men. The most common practice for married women was to set up a line leading out of a camp they shared with her husband and children. Children were left in the c a m p if sufficiently independent or if an older sibling was able to assume responsibility. 70 for male reductions in hunting. 1 2 The fur traders depended upon fish purchased from the Carrier (Harmon 1903:177; Bishop 1983:155). If, as Cranny (1986:71) proposes , fur production was in conflict with fish production, it is plausible that women engaged in greater fish production than formerly the case . Given their traditional control over surpluses of dried foods, they may have traded it as well . 1 3 Unfortunately, there is no record of the extent of independent female trade. The fur traders' records speak only of a general category of "women"; individual transactions are not listed. Studies of trading practices elsewhere, however, reveal that men often acted as brokers for women in the face of European preference for negotiating with men (Klein 1980; Littlefield 1987). In short, the shift to individualized dependence on trade does not appear to have created a sharp division between a male/public and female/private economy. The collective and public nature of women's work persisted. Neither women's leadership within the residential group nor their participation in economic exchange 1 2 Others have argued that women's increased subsistence production has led to the creation of a private/public division of production and resulted in women's subordination. Leacock goes so far as to conclude that universally commodity production benefits men at the expense of women, but the basis of her claim has been questioned by Anderson, who re-examined Leacock 's analysis of the Montagnais-Naskapi (Anderson 1985; Leacock 1980; 1986), and has been found inapplicable to the colonial experience of the Coastal Algonkian (Rothenberg 1980). 1 3 It is interesting to compare the Carrier with neighbouring groups. MacDonald provides ethnographic evidence for Gitksan women controlling cache pits, particularly during periods of hostility (1984:70-71). Littlefield (1987) demonstrates that on the coast female trade was far more extensive than previously realized. 71 and distribution, was undermined directly. Settlement 1862-1910 The last third of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, was an era of rapid flux between periods of relative prosperity and considerable hardship. The Car iboo Gold Rush of 1858 created a brief period of prosperity. Enterprising women and men established pack services, hauling g o o d s from Quesnel to Saik'uz and beyond (Knight 1978:245). When the business of free traders,, who came to compete with the Hudson Bay Company failed, men from Saik'uz established their own "stores and trading posts" to serve the Indian and non-Indian populations. A male elder recollects: Before my time they had Hudson Bay here. I don't remember it. I was told. Another Boston man [American] put up a store. I don't remember his name. He is the one who made the Hudson Bay broke because he was putting up sales. He went broke and everything quit. [Then] the Indian people themselves had little stores. They used to get their stock from Quesnel. . . . To get their supplies they used boat and horses to go to Quesnel . All the stores were quite a distance from here and by doing that, getting supplies at Quesnel , they got better prices for their furs. A s the same man recalls, when transportation services were taken over by white men, Carrier men became the employees. At last there came a scow to get supplies and it employed eleven men. My dad built that scow and they made two or three trips to Quesnel in the summer. He used to bring in supplies for the white settlers who moved in around here. One aftermath of the Car iboo gold rush was the influx of white settlers. They came to settle and farm, and in their first years employed Carrier men to saw timber, 72 to pack g o o d s , to clear land, and to tend livestock. Apparently the village chief directed the labour contracted to the settlers on a piece-work basis, for example, a set sum per acre cleared. The demise of the Hudson Bay monopoly undermined women's productive roles. Native food and hand-crafted products declined in value as free traders imported European food and goods (Fisher 1977:111; Elliot 1958:155). Hudson Bay traders dismissed female Carrier labourers. The influx of miners and free traders generated interracial tensions. Euro-Canadian men a s s u m e d "rights" to Carrier women; frequently mistreated them; and abandoned women and children without provision for their welfare (Fisher 1977:100,113; cf. Morice 1905:316). Carrier men complained to the colonial authorities that "miners abused their women and were generally insulting-accusations corroborated by Euro-Canadian observers (Fisher 1977:100). In the midst of economic expansion, the Saik'uz Whut'enne experienced rapid depopulation; the 1862 smallpox epidemic wiped out their southern neighbours at Blackwater and decimated the Tatukwoten and other southern residential groups of the Nulkiwoten. 1 4 It is not clear if the subsequent movement to the permanent village of Saik'uz enhanced the authority of male leaders, in particular the village chiefs who mediated community relationships with Euro-Canadians. By 1890, the entire resource area surrounding Saik'uz was associated with Chief Paul (Kelcho). A descendant of 1 4 According to Duff, the entire Athapaskan population of B .C . stood at 8,800 in 1835. By 1885, it was reduced to 3,750 (1964: 39). 73 Paul offered the following description of his ancestor's role: All this was Chief Paul's territory. He was in charge if anything went wrong. For the traplines there was a headman. The headman invited those who had no line to trap, with him. Sometimes a line was no g o o d . Then that guy went to the headman and he [the headman] fixed him up. The chief's influence, however, may have been limited by the economic crisis of the 1890s and further depopulation. Although the population counts of Indian agents show only minor increases and decreases from 1891 to 1910 (Table 1), there is evidence that a series of epidemics struck Saik'uz (Morice 1978:195). Saik'uz Whut'enne tell us that residential groups were reduced to a few members, making their continued independence as productive units impossible, and altering their resource exploitation patterns. Fur resources were seriously depleted. Low salmon runs threatened survival and created new needs for imported provisions ( H B C A B. 188/b/15, fo. 285 cited by Hudson 1983:97). People worked out various compromises between subsistence and commodity production and wage labour. To diversify their economic base, the Carrier of Saik'uz turned to agricultural production, and men travelled further afield in search of wages. Families either left to join relatives elsewhere or retreated to their lakeshore settlements where they had their gardens, hay meadows, and fishing stations (Cranny 1986:90). Where some families had been wiped out or forced to move elsewhere, resource areas remained unused. Furthermore, the turn to migrant wage labour meant that some men who had routinely and intensely trapped and hunted 74 Table 1 Department of Indian Affairs' Population Estimates for the Stoney Creek Indian Band 1891-1920 by 5 Year Averages Years Population 1891-1895 1896-1900 1901-1905 1906-1910 1911-1915 1 1916-1920 2 97 97 103 110 161 109 1. In 1911 an Indian Agent was stationed in Vanderhoof. The large increase in population undoubtedly reflects greater accuracy in recording the true population. Prior to 1911, the estimates were derived from various sources by the Indian Agents at the West Coast Agency. 2. In 1918 one third of the band died from Spanish influenza. Source: All data are taken from DIAND Annual Reports apart from 1916-1920 which includes figures reported by Father Cocco la OMI in Records of the Oblate Missions of British Columbia (Microfilm UBCL) . 75 were no longer doing s o . In some instances, women took over from the absent men. In other cases , because of the declining fur resources, this made no sense . Although trapping was less intense, it was no less valued, as one woman explains. They still went out. They trapped just a little maybe to make a bit of money and to teach the kids. That way the kids would be able to survive and to be trappers later. Knowledge of trapping and bush remained "precious" and was seen as the birthright for future generations. All that time, the old timers didn't make much of a living just trapping. Since then they started doing other things, but the lines are still there for the young generations. When we don't hunt out there, the animals regenerate for the next bunch to come along. The bush is always there, and its owned just like before. During this period, status-bearing goods purchased from traders and commercial centres were not as readily available to women as to men. While men laboured directly for cash , women produced primarily for domestic use. O n the whole, it was men who participated in the emerging public economic sector and in the mediating institutions imposed by missionaries and government officials. C h u r c h a n d State Intervention At the same time that they faced grave economic and social disruptions from resource scarcity and depopulation, the Saik'uz Whut'enne converted to Catholicism. Members of the Order of The Oblates of Mary Immaculate began regular visits to Saik'uz in 1868. To strengthen their own authority, the priests created a quasi-military hierarchy that would adhere first to church law and second either to the state 76 or to indigenous tradition. High ranking men were selected as "chiefs," "captains," "subcaptains," "watchmen," and "soldiers" (Morice 1930:54). It now became possible for the men of one family to assume several influential positions: brokers with the fur traders and settlers, church chief or captain, and village chief. Often, as was the case with Chief Paul (circa 1892), one man acted in all these capacities. Patrilineal success ion to the positions became the general rule and continues to the present. Descendants of the first church chiefs of the Nulkiwoten and Tachickwoten continue to hold these honorary positions. Conversion to Catholicism had far reaching consequences for Carrier women. They were barred from public meetings, chastised for intervening in community affairs, and encouraged to abandon wage labour and trapping when it took them from the village. Men were encouraged to assume authoritarian roles. For example, two Oblate priests, Fathers Morice and C o c c o l a , chastised the men of Stoney Creek and Fraser Lake for being too easily led by women (Fiske 1981:100). In other words, the Oblates struggled to impose a strict dichotomy between female and male labour and a clear hierarchy of male authority and female submission. Moreover, the potlatch, outlawed in 1884, was censured by the church chiefs, forcing it underground, and further reducing women's access to public acclamation and leadership roles. In the eyes of the state, the church, and the general public, Indians were never perceived as businessmen nor even primarily as labourers. Rather, state and church policies concentrated on transforming their subsistence/commodity 77 production economy to one of subsistence agriculture. When reserves for the Saik'uz Whut'enne were established in 1892, a prime consideration was the inclusion of sufficient agricultural land (Report of Indian Reserve Commissioner, Department of Indian Affairs Annual Report 1892:265). In fact, farming efforts had preceded both the Oblate missionaries and the Indian Agents, who did not begin regular visits to the area until the 1890s. Under state policy and church influence, agricultural efforts increased, and the Saik'uz men were soon known as "progressive" and excellent farmers. Despite small land holdings, limited tools and draught animals, as well as the extended absences of men who were working elsewhere, initial attempts at agriculture were successful . In 1893, a provincial survey team noted that "The Indians in the Nechaco raise potatoes of a very g o o d quality, turnips, cabbages , and onions" and reported that their livestock "was generally in first class condition in the spring" (B.C. Sessional Papers 1894:992,996). In fact, their competitive rearing and selling of livestock incited envy and resentment among their white competitors (Allard 1913: Oblate Records, U B C L AW1 R4664). In 1916, the Indian Agent described the Saik'uz Whut'enne as "industrious; progressive and provident," and "the most highly advanced Indians in the Agency" (Department of Indian Affairs Annual Report 1916). Eager to expand their farms, the people sought additional aid in the form of implements, supplies, stock, and instruction from the government. A n elderly man remembers that "everyone wanted to farm. They were all going to make it in this way." Agricultural work was adjusted to the existing seasonal round of the men, 78 who undertook heavy farm labour only in the late spring and fall. At other times they were away, trapping or working for wages. Consequently, the women's seasonal round was also transformed. Women and elders were left to tend the livestock and fields. Women who had once merged child care with bush activities were now bound to the village. In the absence of men, women shared responsibilities and the fruits of their labour. Co-operatively, they produced items for trade with the settlers and provided care to orphans and elders who had lost their families in epidemics. A n elderly woman describes how her own grandmother managed . Granny raised her kids here [at Saik'uz]. Auntie went out on the trapline and she never married until there weren't no little kids left. Granny had a garden and she went to Corkscrew [fishing site not far from the village on the opposite lake shore] to dip the suckers. In that way she kept everybody. A n d it was only then that the men went away to work, down to Quesnel with the pack horses and over to the other side of Fort George. While the men were away the women took care of all the business. Everybody they looked after, the old people, the sick, and the babies. They got together, those womans [sic], and worked and shared out s o no one went hungry. And the kids, they hauled the water and made the w o o d for the old folks. Although farming could never have s u c c e e d e d without the labour of women, their critical contribution was recognized neither by the state nor by the church. The Indian agent subdivided farming allotments according to the notion of male-headed nuclear families. Initially, women gained possession rights only when widowed or when in the absence of male heirs, they inherited from their parents. This sex-biased land appropriation clearly benefited men. Farming created new role relationships 79 among men. Successful farmers, who were rewarded by greater state assistance than was granted to others, could extract labour from other men, a practice which further enhanced social differences among men and which created asymmetrical relations of prestige between men and women. In spite of the Carriers' eagerness to farm and the assistance of the state, agriculture remained limited. Climate, a lack of capital, the absence of local markets, and high transportation costs prevented the development of large-scale production. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Carrier sought greater economic diversity. E c o n o m i c E x p a n s i o n and Settlement 1911-1950 i) E c o n o m i c Diversi ty 1 5 The arrival of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1914 and state intervention into fishing and trapping created more dramatic changes in productive relations. A s early as 1911, the men of Saik'uz were engaged in contract work for the railroad company. In 1913, the Stuart Lake Indian Agent noted that O n recommendation contractors did not hesitate to give contracts of clearing right of way, ties and cordwood cutting, and freighting to the Indians who in every case made g o o d (Department of Indian Affairs, Annual Report 1913:269). Although they faced some competition from white settlers and transients, Carrier men were at an advantage: they were supported by the subsistence production of women and children. Entire families gathered at the tie camps scattered along the railway line. Working beside the men, women peeled, hewed, and hauled the ties. 1 5 The patterns of labour described here were c o m m o n throughout British Columbia. For comparative accounts see Knight 1978, McDonald 1987. 80 Assisted by their children, they also hunted, fished, snared, and performed routine domestic chores. During World War I, with most of the settlers away, the Carrier gained a virtual monopoly in the tie business. With men employed at ranches, more women entered into tie production. "Why we hacked all those ties, our mothers and aunties went to work there when the men went away," explained a woman. Another said, "If the men weren't here to do it, we did." Despite their active involvement in tie production, women never had the same economic opportunities as men did. W o m e n were unable to bid on production contracts and, when working with their husbands or other male kin, they rarely received individual wages. Nevertheless, women were not forced into a subordinate position within the Saik'uz economy. Tie production could neither sustain all families through its earnings, nor ensure a relatively egalitarian redistribution of its wealth throughout the community. Through control of their food distribution, women earned prestige as providers and influenced community decision making. Their subsistence production, more than cash earnings, remained critical for the overall well being of the community at large. One elderly woman recalls her adolescent years, when she worked alongside her mother and grandmother. In the twenties the men worked out every-where. Somet imes we were left alone for a long time. The women did it all then, and they fed everybody. If they [the men] came back without money or supplies we fed them too. We fed everybody in this way. Other avenues were open to women seeking an independent income. Fur 81 prices rose, and women trapped their own lines or those belonging to their husbands , as two women recal l . 1 6 My m o m was an expert trapper and did her share of trapping just like a man. I learned how to trap by watching what my Mother and Auntie done. When I got married no one had to teach me.... My mother-in-law came here from Cheslatta when she got married. Right from then to an old woman she trapped. Following completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad in 1914, men established small businesses that would serve settlers' needs: transportation services, lumber supplies, and sundry labour including blacksmithing and carpentry. These businesses were short lived. The town of Vanderhoof expanded quickly. White businesses soon displaced Carrier entrepreneurs and forced them into manual labour. Men were granted contracts to clear large tracts of land but, as at the tie c a m p s , the work was carried on by entire families. Mothers packing young children, older children, and related single adults all worked together. A s with tie production, farm labour and land clearing offered little opportunity for women who sought an independent income. Frequently, men alone received payment for the work performed by their wives and families. Except in the rare cases where the settlers needed domestic labour, women were not hired directly. At the same time, women who independently sought wage labour were 1 6 Trapping was c o m m o n to the Carrier women of Moricetown and Cheslatta also. S e e Niezel and Niezel (1978) for the reminiscences of s o m e Moricetown women. 82 censured by the priests. Although women were once again disadvantaged by exclusion from wage earnings, they were not forced into economic dependency. Despite wage and contract labour, the Carrier remained dependent upon the subsistence production of women and children. Often men, rather than women, were economic dependents . 1 7 ii) C h a n g e s in S u b s i s t e n c e Product ion In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the state extended its control over the people and resources of the Central Interior. In the process, the Saik'uz Whut'enne lost control over their traditional means of production and experienced dramatic changes in the gender division of labour. Bowing to popular opinion and pressure from the commercial salmon industry, which had grown rapidly from 1880 to 1900 and which feared over-exploitation of the resource, the Federal Department of Fisheries moved to abolish native use of fish weirs and traps throughout the province. In 1911, the chiefs of the Fort Fraser and Fort St. J a m e s bands signed the Barricade Agreement, which promised state delivery of nets to each family, farming implements, protection of fishing sites, and a vocational school . The agreement stipulated that the weirs be destroyed and that nets be used only under conditions set forth by The Department of Fisheries (Lane 1 7 Hudson makes the same point with respect to the Tl 'azt 'enne. "no Tl'azt'enne could afford to become dependent on wage labour.... the women and children fished and ran small traplines to support the families (1983:135; see also 1979:4). Knight speaks of similar situations elsewhere (1978:35). 83 1978). 1 8 The transition from barricades to family owned nets brought an end to collective labour required for weirs and reinforced the shift to domestic production units (cf. Hudson 1983:108). Furthermore, since men no longer constructed communal weirs and since net fishing was traditionally women's work, men were marginalized. While women set the nets and processed all the fish, men performed ancillary work: carrying heavy loads, providing firewood, and helping with transportation. Hence, salmon fishing came to be viewed as "women's work"; with this new gender division of labour, salmon were distributed, exchanged, and sold at the discretion of the women. Transition to net fishing reduced the fishery. Not only were insufficient nets initially supplied, but by 1914, the state had reneged on its promised delivery. At the same time, the salmon runs failed. In 1914, the catch was reduced to fewer than 400 at Nadleh (Hudson 1983:110). The fishery could no longer be d e p e n d e d upon, and the Carrier turned to other fish resources and game (moose were just entering 1 8 Imposition of state authority over resource use created tensions and ambiguity for the chief and the dunezah. These men were called upon to sign agreements with the government no matter how strongly they objected to the terms. Speaking of her father-in-law, a woman stated, His father, that's when he was chief. He signed that fishing treaty. Couldn't even read it.... it has his mark there. But he didn't want to. He never thought he was putting to a stop our fishing. He never meant that.... I guess the bishop, him he told the chiefs to sign. 84 the region) for their subsistence. The collapse of the salmon run did not diminish its cultural significance. By the mid-century, when the runs were once again reliable, women who were skilled in the use and care of their nets gained prestige. Today, elders recall with pride the skills of their mothers and grandmothers, explaining that it was from these women that they learned to fish: Grandmother taught me how to set net. She was very patient. She just sat and watched me prepare it until it was right. She knew what to do and everyone respected her for it. iii) C h a n g e s in Fur T rapp ing Just as state and church agents had negotiated solely with men in matters of reserve allotments, the barricade agreement, and the establishment of education, they again ignored women when they introduced registered traplines in 1926. Although women had always trapped and had enjoyed the s a m e resource rights as men, they were not registered with the men as trapline owners. Initially, all traplines were registered to men. With the approval of the Indian agent, widows were granted lines only in the absence of adult male heirs. Officially, at least, state seizure of animal resource management excluded women from inheriting property of mothers, fathers, and brothers. At the same time, men were denied inheritance of their mothers' or sisters' lines. A s a consequence of trapline registration, the Saik'uz Whut'enne lost trapping 85 areas. The state transferred lines temporarily lying empty because of depopula t ion 1 9 or male absence to white trappers, many of whom needed a c a s h return to maintain their farms. As a means to control production (Hudson 1983:136), the provincial government ignored longstanding corporate interests of extended families and clans and strove for individual ownership with father-to-son inheritance. Reluctantly, government officials conceded to "company" (shared) lines; these, however, accommodated patrilineal families rather than the matriclans. Other forms of control over fur production included quotas and seasonal closures. In 1919 and 1920 beaver trapping was prohibited. Ironically, the barriers to women's trapping were erected at the s a m e time women became freer to trap. In 1922, the Lejac Residential School , run by the Sisters of Child Jesus and the Oblates, opened at Fraser Lake. Parents who placed their children in the school were now freer to trap and hunt than when they had been accompanied by young children. Women generally welcomed the greater mobility and access to independent earnings, as one explains, All that time we were there, Granny was out trapping. Auntie, too, she trapped all over just like the men. We didn't go home then. Not until the summer when they were fishing. Overall, the interventions of the state and church had contradictory consequences for women. The state's insistence on a net salmon fishery displaced 1 9 The Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 devastated the Saikuz Whut'enne. Between 1915 and 1920 the population decrease was 32 percent (see Table 1 page 82). 86 male collective labour and reinforced the importance of female domestic production units. Moreover, the move towards a male hierarchy of leadership did not completely thwart women's influence. As the cash economy drew men away from the community, women were left to manage on their own and to take charge of community affairs, frustrating the Oblate priests' desire for male domination. The strength of women's economic position was, however, balanced by male control of cash incomes as the economy shifted away from subsistence and commodity production to wage labour. Women might well have faced serious erosion of their social position if the depression of the 1930s had not virtually wiped out opportunities for wage labour. iv) T h e D e p r e s s i o n Years 1929-1939 The d e p r e s s e d state of the economy brought Carrier men into unfavourable rivalry for work and resources. Competition for tie contracts was fierce. A s one long-time nonnative resident of the region stated, When we first came here [in the 1920s], my husband hired the Indians to clear the land. But after the crash [1929] he couldn't hire them anymore. He went out looking for work and got a tie contract. S o m e white men viewed their Indian competition with hostility, speaking of them as "enemies"; others tried to obtain the sub-contracts and hire Indian men as cheap labour. In the words of one woman, then the white men got those contracts and our men went to work for them. We didn't get any contracts of our own until the war. But in the thirties we still got that work, even then we hacked for the white contractors. 87 Because the economic impact of the depression was as devastating for white farmers, they no longer hired Carrier farmhands. One nonnative woman recalls, Everything ground to a halt then. We got rid of livestock and s topped clearing the land. Everybody suffered, the whites and the Indians, and all the men were off looking for work. Tie contracts in the winter kept everyone going. Men left Saik'uz to seek work. They found little, however, and faced harsh discrimination as white men complained to the government and church leaders that they were "left out because of those Indians who take our jobs" (P.A.B.C. Records of the Oblates). The best Carrier men could do was to work elsewhere at any type of seasonal labour. 2 0 S o m e found short-term employment in the Fraser Valley hop fields, some in the Okanagan orchards, and some in Prince George and Prince Rupert. The few skilled workers were more fortunate than most, as one recalls. Me and M , we did okay even then because we were carpenters. We got some work at the school [Lejac] and for the priests too. Generally everyone suffered. Insufficient capital and external market conditions undermined their farming efforts. There were few employment opportunities for women. S o m e did go to the Prince Rupert fish canneries or to the Fraser Valley hop fields. They made "a very little bit of money," however, and taking their young children proved too burdensome. "We packed all those kids with us and s o we couldn't work fast. The little bit of money we made didn't help." Most women 2 0 Figures from the Stuart Lake Agency reveal the abrupt decline in wage earnings from a regional total of $22,635 in 1929 to nothing at all in 1933 and 1934 (cited by Hudson 1983:143). 88 stayed home. O n e women explained, No, we didn't do anything different. It was just harder. I told you we went house to house peddling, that's all. It was hard times because we had such a little bit of money. She a d d e d , We stayed put while the men went all over for work. We did the fishing, had our big gardens in them days too. You bet, them days we fed the men. They sure were glad for us women. It was our caches that kept their bellies full. Reliance on subsistence activities of women increased. Women continued to support their families and to produce food for general distribution. One woman stated, Whatever extra we had we shared. When S had the only soap in Saik'uz she shared that with everybody. S a m e thing with extra rice, oats, flour, fish; we women shared that. S and me, we get together with our fish, go to town and come back to give out the flour, tea, and sugar. Women supplemented their subsistence production through trade with neighbouring farm women, exchanging food and hand-crafted items for clothing, patches for quilts, and Euro-Canadian food items. Additionally, Saik'uz Whut'enne women gave gifts of food to the farm women. A woman recalls how she and a friend ... went to the white ladies who were having a hard time. Everyone was in a bad way and we helped each other out. Fish and dried meat, that's what we would give to them. They suffered too, poor things and we helped them just like they helped us. The deprivation of these years undermined male control over wealth. Trapping 89 incomes plummeted along with wages. The economic situation was, of course, too depressed for women to gain lasting economic advantage, but the temporary reliance on their domestic production meant women once again controlled the critical resources. Modernizat ion 1939-1985 i) T h e War Years 1939-1945 The entry of C a n a d a into an international war brought a new burst of prosperity to the regional economy of central British Columbia. Farmers easily found markets for their produce, and local farms once again hired Carrier men. Military demand for metals also created jobs. Men obtained contracts to clear land and cut pit poles for a mercury mine near Fort St. James . Fur prices held steady, allowing women and men to earn a regular seasonal income. Experienced carpenters and skilled tradesmen found "there was no end of work. Whatever job we wanted we got." O n c e again, they were drawn to distant parts of the province where they worked on road construction, farms, and timber production. An elderly man remembers, Me, I went all over to work. Lots of work them days. In the spring we cleared land for that new highway [Alaska highway] past Prince George. In the winter we hack ties and cut pit props. The others, they went up to that mine at the fort [Fort St. James] . At Saik'uz, land clearing dominated the spring and summer months. Men and women, accompanied by all their children and camping wherever they worked, cleared land for the Vanderhoof airport, for service roads, for telecommunication services. Contracts were still given to men on a per acre basis, and, while 90 women's labour was essential, women failed to receive individual wages. We had to clear land to get money. The airport land in Vanderhoof was cleared by us Indians. All the lands across Vanderhoof - Mrs. McKetchi, also Jean French's m o m . W e cleared their land. Also Cameron we cleared. For cheap wages we laboured. I had children while I was working. I had to pack them everywhere I worked, even when I c h o p p e d a tree, I had one on my back. (Sophie Thomas in Stoney Creek Indian Band 1984:11). Several men volunteered for the forces. S o m e went no further than military bases in southern British Columbia, where they were found unfit for active duty. Three men served overseas and one returned a decorated war hero. In the words of one woman, Lots of men go, they volunteer. Lots of them c o m e back because something wrong with them.... [My husband] went overseas for four and a half years.... Dick Patrick was a war hero. He got them medals for bravery, for running behind them enemy lines. He let everyone know what a good Indian is, a warrior just like the old timers. ii) T h e Post -War Years 1946-1960 For a few years following the war, the Saik'uz Whut'enne continued to prosper. The tie industry continued to bring lucrative contracts. At the same time, the forestry industry expanded, creating a demand for native labour. By the mid 1950s, several hundred mills were operating in the region (Hudson 1983:142). W o m e n were hired as c o o k s and laundresses in the forestry camps, while men contracted hauling services. Economic expansion once again proved unreliable. Hard times followed the 91 temporary prosperity. Fur prices declined in 1952 and commodity prices rose (Hudson 1983:132). The regional population, which had been rising rapidly since the beginning of the century (in the first two decades it increased 195.5 per cent), swelled once again.. Between 1941 and 1951 it increased be 59.3 per cent, and in the following ten years another 84.3 per cent (Table 2). The forestry industry was transformed by mechanization, which displaced the small sawmills hiring native labour and attracted a large labour force of white men. Tie c a m p s dwindled to a few, then disappeared altogether. Highway development brought s o m e new jobs, but never replaced the tie industry. A women sadly recollects, That's all there was after the tie camps, the highways and a little bit of land clearing. Our men didn't get the jobs, the whites did. Just a few went to work, and they kept the jobs. My husband, M , S , a few others did that. But there wasn't work for everybody. Men continued to seek work elsewhere, with irregular results. Forestry training c a m p s , sponsored by the Department of Indian Affairs, provided some work, which continued into the next decade. Men turned to unskilled labour elsewhere, in the Okanagan fruit orchards, in the Chilcotin forests and ranches, and in more remote forest areas. Unfortunately, none of these jobs paid well or provided much security. With the men either unemployed or locked into low paying short-term jobs, women entered the labour market in greater numbers than before. The regional white population had a larger portion of men than women. A s Table 3 shows, men between the ages of 25 and 44 years outnumbered women of the same ages by 2,287. Of all adults over 15 years of age, women formed only 92 Table 2 Population Trends of Census Division 8, Central Interior of British Columbia 1901-1961 Year Population Increase Over Ten Years Number Percent 1901 4,523 1911 8,411 3,888 85.9 1921 17,631 9,200 109.6 1931 21,534 3,903 22.1 1941 25,276 3,742 17.4 1951 40,276 15,000 59.3 1961 74,240 33,964 84.3 Source: Regional Index of British Columbia 1966:424 93 Table 3 Adult Population of Census Division 8, • Central Interior of British Columbia 1961 By A g e Group and Sex A q e Group Male Female Total 15-19 2,749 2,499 5,248 20-24 2,716 2,503 5,219 25-29 3,225 2,503 5,728 30-34 3,332 2,565 5,897 35-39 2,832 2,340 5,172 40-44 2,289 1,983 4,272 45-49 2,034 1,570 3,604 50-54 1,731 1,107 2,838 55-59 1,442 756 2,198 60-64 1,002 557 1,559 65 & over 1,953 1,069 3,022 Total 25,303 19,452 44,755 Source: Regional Index of British Columbia 1966:425 94 43.9 per cent of the population. Hence, work that typically falls to women, for example domestic services or janitorial work in the service industries, became available to Carrier women. In the 1950s, the new hospital in Vanderhoof hired native women for its laundry and cleaning staff. Despite being gruelling, ill paid, and undertaken in the poorest of working conditions, this work was eagerly sought by women with large families to raise. One woman moved from the reserve to town in order to work in the laundry and recalls: I worked in the hospital for thirteen years. In 1958 he [her husband] lost his tie contracts so I went to work. I helped out in the laundry. All the sheets, pillow cases , gowns, everything had to be washed and ironed. We worked in pairs at the mangles. We put through the sheets together. That was hard work. I started at 7:30 in the morning that's why I moved to town with my children. The laundry has a low roof and is full of steam. We worked like that from first thing in the morning until evening. The hospital administrators were pleased with her work and treated her well. After several years: I was transferred to the sewing room. I could sit all day mending or I could help out elsewhere. For a while I was in charge of the first floor [cleaning staff].... I walked to work in the morning and back home at 4:30.... After a while I invested in a better truck. A nurse told me we would lose our medical if we were off the reserve for too long, so I invested in a better truck and moved back. At least one other woman went to work for a long period in the hospital laundry. Still another became a practical nurse. Others did similar work at nearby fishing resorts. One woman worked full time at the hospital and spent her holidays working at the resort adjacent to the reserve: "I spent my holidays at that fishing 95 lodge even though the wages were so small. After a couple of years I quit that." From the end of the war through to 1970, women found domestic work in private homes, motels, schools, and other public institutions. Some worked steadily for ten to fifteen years, but only a very few earned sufficient wages to be able to save for future needs or for investment. One exceptional woman actually accumulated sufficient capital to start her own ranch. She leased reserve land, held by a male cousin, for grazing her stock and raising hay. Aided by her husband, daughters, and sons, she expanded the ranch. In time, she was in a position to hire other men. One of the men explained, [she] had a ranch here. She got some help from [her husband] but she hired us men to work too. We did the clearing and the haying, any work for her. She was real g o o d to us. I always worked for her. At that time, women were able not only to work for wages, but to find g o o d markets for their handicrafts. From the late 1930s through to the end of the 1950s, the Department of Indian Affairs provided support for Indian fairs and found other markets for the woman's work. A woman recalls that, Mr. came and picked up all our moccasins, mukluks, everything we had ready. He went to every reserve and got what the women made. He took it to Victoria, to the fair, to sell it for us. After the fair he came back with the money. At the same time, some women lost their freedom to fish and trap as they chose. In 1949, the establishment of a day school on the reserve reduced young women's mobility. Three women recall its effect on their lives. I still snared and trapped right here, but most of the time I 96 didn't go far. In the fall to fish for char and whitefish sometimes but not like before. W e didn't go to Clucuz Lake anymore. After that we had kids at home everyday. I sure missed that, we had a harder time getting whitefish 'cuz that was our place and we didn't have one here. We moved here from Noonla because of the school , away from our berry patch and everything. M o m stopped trapping then. I don't think she went out after the war. Then she leased her line. She still holds onto it, and my sister will get it after her. In 1944, the federal government introduced family allowances, payable to mothers. This partially offset their loss of a trapping income and subsistence production. The small but regular payments meant that women who were in a position to share and lend this income could exert some influence over others. The situation of the depression had emerged once again as women's subsistence production and cash earnings became the mainstay of the Saik'uz Whut'enne. This swing in relative female and male fortunes was accentuated by further incursions of the state into resource use and management. With the increased settlement, came new conflicts over land and resources, and with that, rising state intervention in the management of natural, renewable resources. In accordance with advice of a provincial wildlife official, harvesting limits were placed upon each trapline, and "tags" were issued to control beaver exploitation. From early in the 1950s through to 1972, an Indian agent annually renewed the ownership and use of traplines registered to Indians. It was the department's policy to encourage men who had not regularly used their lines either to transfer them to another band 97 member, as approved by the department or, failing that, to sell their lines to non-Indians. Evidence of the efforts of the state officials to control use of the lines is found in the individual records DIAND maintained for each trapline registered to Saik'uz trappers. Prior to 1959, all enfranchised trappers were deleted routinely from membership in a "trapline company" (shared line); all line owners who had been absent to work were requested to transfer their lines; and all those who appeared to the agent to have permanently left the reserve were either struck from company membership or had their lines transferred to another man at the agents' discretion. From 1959 to 1975, only one woman inherited and retained ownership of a line. Lines that had formerly passed between sisters were arbitrarily p a s s e d from mother to son, and lines held by women, but not used by them, were p a s s e d to sons even when the brother and/or other matrilineal relatives requested a c c e s s to them. Reaction to these interventions varied. S o m e men complained that the white man's notions of private property and ownership could not be applied to "Indian land," which was held by the present generation for the benefit of all the future generations. Traplines were to the Indians what "money in the bank" would be to a white man one argued, something which would be used for survival in the future. Trappers pointed out that it was only because of poor prices and of the need to work elsewhere that they were not trapping. When the right time came they, or their 98 successors , would use the lines. To avoid losing their lines either by default or by transfer, several men chose to rent the lines to white men. However, these rentals, as with all aspects of trapping, were subject to the agent's approval. In some cases the agent conc luded that the line "would be best used" by another Indian, while in other instances leasing was encouraged. For those registered owners who did lease their lines, greater protection over them resulted. Today, these lines tend to remain in Indian hands and to be leased to whites. Others, attracted by immediate cash gains, sold their lines to white trappers. Population growth continued through the 1970s and 1980s, but at a slower pace than formerly. Between 1971 and 1986, the population of the Bulkley-Nechacko Census division, in which Saik'uz is located, increased from 27,145 to 37,470, a growth of 27.2 per cent (Statistics Canada , C e n s u s of C a n a d a 1971, 1986). 2 1 The continuing expansion of the Euro-Canadian labour force further exacerbated the underemployment of the Carrier. A s with other Carrier bands, the Saik'uz Whut'enne became irrelevant to the industrial labour force (cf. Hudson 1983:151). iii) The Present Industrial development continued at a steady pace into the 1970s and further alienated the Carrier people from their land and their past. Women continued to work in the bush, albeit on a smaller scale and closer to home, to provide fish, meat (small mammals, fowl etc.), and berries, but with decreasing returns. The men 2 1 C e n s u s division boundaries changed between 1966 and 1971, therefore data in Tables 2 and 3 do not extend into the 1970s.. 99 also hunted, but now in competition with white men, who had the advantage of better transportation and who regarded hunting as a sport to which they had a right. A s game decreased, state intervention into the native hunting practices grew by means of increased enforcement of seasonal regulations and catch limits. The traumatic turn of events in the 1950s and 1960s set the stage for the present day economic situation, high unemployment, decreased access to subsistence production, and an overwhelming sense of alienation from the work of the surrounding white communities. S u m m a r y a n d C o n c l u s i o n s T o paraphrase Leacock (1981:140): With regard to the autonomy of women, nothing in the structure of aboriginal Carrier society necessitated special deference to men. During the precontract era women and men had equal a c c e s s to subsistence resources and exercised control over their own labour. Local leadership rested on personal negotiation and the abilities of senior male and female members of the resident group. O n a wider level, women and men of distinction enjoyed public acclaim and opportunities to wield influence from prominent positions within the clan system. The situation of economic hardship that prevails today has its origins in the changing nature of the regional political economy of three decades earlier. Although traumatic changes pushed women and men out of the labour force, and eroded the basis of their subsistence economy, the economic autonomy of women, while weakened and threatened, was not utterly destroyed. 100 Today, as in the past, the Saik'uz Whut'enne rely on family production of subsistence. In a highly-limited way, women continue to produce subsistence goods , to control food allocation, and to obtain and control cash income independently of men. Two important conclusions can be drawn from the data presented here. First, women's control over domestic provisions counterbalanced the negative effects of dependency upon male cash earnings. S e c o n d , efforts by the church and state to displace women from public affairs and to subordinate them to male domination were not successful . While women's material circumstances have been sufficient for them to retain a high measure of personal autonomy, women's roles in social production and domestic provisioning are neither the only nor necessarily the most significant factors contributing to their contemporary political circumstances. Patterns of social interactions and economic specialization also have an ideological dimension. In the next chapter, I look beyond material conditions to consider the role of cultural values and sexual stereotypes in reinforcing and transforming gender relations. 101 C H A P T E R F O U R  A S A I K ' U Z V IEW O F C H A N G I N G G E N D E R R E L A T I O N S  Introduction Gender relations are as much a matter of cultural tradition as they are of material circumstances. In this chapter, I look at various interpretations given to past transformations of women's social, economic and political status. My goal is to add women's views of Carrier culture and history to the ethnographic record. My emphasis is on the meanings women attribute to Carrier cosmology and to historical events. I believe that a better appreciation of the Carrier conception of the spiritual, sexual, and social condition of women will generate a clearer understanding of the way Carrier see gender relations in real life. I illustrate women's use of myths and historical narratives to legitimate their current political practices and consider how this shapes gender interaction. Two levels of interpretation are needed: an exploration of traditional gender c o d e s e m b e d d e d in myth and ritual traditions, and an interpretation of the way in which these cultural elements are taken out of their original context and given a new significance within contemporary political relations (cf. Larsen 1983:39). This chapter is organized into four sections. First, I turn to Carrier myth for the symbolic representation of female roles and cultural ideals. S e c o n d , I look at cultural traditions of the aboriginal period, concentrating on the ritual behaviours and social proscriptions attached to rites of passage . Outside observers' explanations are 102 contrasted with contemporary elderly women's views. Third, I describe social contexts in which women manipulate cultural elements that define traditional gender. relations and responsibilities. Finally, I turn to women's interpretations of their history, paying particular attention to their understandings of the impact of missionaries, state intrusions, and economic upheavals. Before beginning, it is necessary to make a statement about gender-discrete interpretations of female sexuality and physiology. It has been pointed out that androcentric biases concerning female physiology have unfavourably coloured the ethnography of native women. Goldenweiser's attitude towards women typifies the Euro-centric male biases pervading observers' accounts: ... Woman is handicapped in matters sacred by the fact that she herself is not merely a human but also a w o m a n - a peculiar creature with a distracting and at times repulsive [emphasis added] periodicity in her life cycle, a peculiar and only partly understood relationship to the fact of birth, and a fascinating and always disturbing influence on man via sex (Goldenweiser 1937:140-142 quoted in Kehoe 1983:61). Driver, who provides the most extensive account of girls' puberty rites, makes similar assumptions. He states that universally "menstruation, and probably everything to do with sex, is unclean" (1941:56). Perry offers a more sophisticated and useful understanding in his discussion of the variations of the female referent in Athapaskan cultures. He conceptualized femaleness as "an abstract quality with an existence independent of discrete persons and capable of imbuing and affecting individuals to varying degrees" (1977:99). He rightly suggests that "it can be handled in the same manner as other Athabaskan concepts involving power. It was neither g o o d 103 nor bad inherently, but potentially dangerous when present in excessive degrees" (ibid.:105). Efforts to expose the intellectual limits of androcentric interpretations are undercut by the continuing reluctance of observers to accept indigenous women's perceptions of their lives and of the sacred or esoteric significance of their reproductive capacities. Buckley, for example, readily dismissed a young Yurok woman's positive interpretation of menstrual rules as "incredible" and as an indication that tradition had been "rationalized and reinterpreted" to conform with "modern notions of women's rights" (Buckley 1982:49). It was not until he found comparable interpretations in Kroeber's unpublished 1 Yurok data that Buckley accepted the young woman's explications of her ritual practices. This led Buckley to argue that Yurok men and women had discrete views on sacred powers: men feared menstrual pollution; women celebrated menstrual purity (ibid.:52). Wisely, he asserts, "Clearly then, there are two gender-specific views, of which only one, that of the male, has b e c o m e known through published ethnographies" and that serious consideration of the contemporary feminine perspective is salient to understanding the complexities of aboriginal cosmologies (ibid.:52, 57). T h e C o s m o l o q i c a l Matrix 1 According to Buckley, Yurok women provided Kroeber with detailed, unequivocally positive accounts of menstruation as a time of purity and menstrual rites as a source of personal strength and spiritual development. Yet Kroeber omitted all reference to them in his publications and never challenged male notions of female pollution and debasement. In fact, he makes regular reference to female "periodic illnesses" (e.g., 1925:80). 104 i) Selection and Analysis of the Narratives It is beyond the s c o p e of this work to provide a detailed account of the procedures followed in the content analysis of the selected myths and to provide a comprehensive discussion of the plots and themes of the selected myths. Briefly, the following portrait of mythological female character is drawn from an analysis of twenty-two narratives recorded by Jenness (1934), twenty of them attributed to Fort Fraser narrators (Nadleh), and two attributed to Stoney Creek (Saik'uz) narrators, and ten narratives recorded during my own field work (Table 4). Jenness 's collection is salient since elders and others engaged in cultural and educational activities p o s s e s s copies of them. Included in my collection are popular stories of women humiliating federal fisheries officers by sitting on them. Versions of these tales are c o m m o n among the Carrier; Saik'uz Whut'enne have their favourite renditions that locate incidents within their own territory. My analysis of the narratives focuses primarily on the representation of female characters and appropriate feminine behaviour as these compare to male characters and masculinity. I ask: How are women depicted, and what is their relation to men? I organize my discussion according to the following criteria: 1) personality characteristics of female actors; 2) appropriate and inappropriate social behaviour; 3) acquisition and use of medicine power; and 4) portrayal of sexuality and procreation, Personalities are evaluated according to their display of passivity, assertiveness, self 105 Table 4 Selection of Tales from Jenness and from Fieldwork Jenness 1. The Giant's Grandson or the Salmon Boy (Fort Fraser) 3. The Orphan Boy as a Culture Hero (Fort Fraser) 4. Variant (Fort Fraser) 6. The W o m a n Who Married a Grizzly (Fort Fraser) 7. The D o g Children (Hagwilget and Fort Fraser) 13. The Two Lost Sisters (Fort Fraser) 17. The Sky Boy and the Magic Arrows (Hagwilgate and Fort Fraser) 20. The Boy who had Medicine for Fish (Fort Fraser) 21. The Man who Ate his Wives (Fort Fraser) 22. The Girl who Married the Sekani (Fort Fraser) 23. The Boys ' Vengeance (Fort Fraser) 30. Ayasu (Fort Fraser) 31. Chicken Hawk (Fort Fraser) 32. The Monstrous Bear (Fort Fraser) 33. The Orphan's Revenge (Fort Fraser) 34. The Magic Arrows (Fort Fraser) 35. The Bear Wife (Fort Fraser) 36. The Girls who were Carried into the Sky (Fort Fraser) 38. The Swift Runner (Fort Fraser) 40. Another Trickster Story (Stony Creek) 64. Dwarfs (a. Stony Creek) (b. Fort Fraser) Fiske I. Estas, The Culture Hero (male narrator) II. The Orphan Boy who Married the Chief's Daughter (male narrator) III. Galbaniyeh (female narrator) IV. Girl who Married Bear (male narrator) V. Girl who Married Dog (male narrator) VI. The Daughter-in-Law (female narrator) VII. B o p a the Prophet (two versions, a male and a female narrator) VIII. The Starving Brothers (male narrator) IX. Chinlac Massacre (male narrator) X. The Fisheries Officer (three versions, female narrators) 106 reliance, wilfulness, competence, and wisdom. Appropriate and inappropriate behaviour is characterized by kindness, altruism, selfishness, and wickedness. Recurring characters include Old Woman, who is both a creator figure and an influential advisor to male creator heroes. Other characters include adolescent girls, female guardian animals, and wives of brutal husbands . Prominent male characters are chiefs, shamans, culture heroes, ii) Women in Mythology In order to understand the way the Carrier a s s e s s the role of women it is necessary to begin with what the Carrier perceive to be the beginning: the stories of the creation of the Carrier lands and social system. The creation myths depict strong images of respected and honoured women. Like other creators, Old Woman is instrumental in transforming an inchoate world to its present form. She transforms a tiny creek into the Nechako river and extends a mere five minutes of light into daytime. Old Woman is a critical intermediary between male creator heroes and their adversaries. She saves the young, and often arrogant or brash male culture heroes from the powers of S a (the "sky god") and intervenes between evil chiefs and vulnerable youngsters. Old Woman is a fountain of wisdom. She teaches young heroes to develop their medicine powers. She provides the knowledge to undo the wickedness of chiefs who no longer control their medicine powers and she intervenes in the vision quests of young girls. She is helpful to the young and vulnerable, a caring grandmother to orphaned children, and a counsellor to willful children and young 107 women. The cosmology of the Saik'uz Whut'enne has no male counterpart to the Old Woman. There is no male figure, young or old, who is consistently g o o d , wise, and kind. In myth, Old Woman is the sole model of steadfast character, nurture, and wisdom. Primeval women of Carrier myth are assertive, self-reliant, and courageous. Assertive behaviour is marked by pragmatic action underscored by clever strategy and artifice. Women are competent in the skills of survival. Women who face difficult situations are particularly adept at subterfuge. Through clever deception women rid themselves of brutal husbands and overpower cannibals. Others risk their own lives to help the less fortunate. It is interesting to note that medicine power is represented by female and male animals. Young men are aided by female guardian animals whose powers correspond to those of male guardians. There are parallel stories of marriages to bears. A young girl takes a bear husband and a young man takes a bear wife. Women in myth independently act as shamans. In this respect they do not differ from male characters. Members of both sexes are acclaimed for their proficiency with medicine powers. Female and male characters gain medicine power in the same fashion, but only male characters use it unwisely or cruelly. Female characters, on the other hand, invoke medicine power for personal benefit and the c o m m o n g o o d . In one episode a young girl frees Stas, the creator hero, who is trapped in ice. In another myth, an adolescent girl uses her power to create a stream teaming with fish and thus saves a village from starvation. 108 Adolescent girls are also called upon to mediate between wicked males and their victims. For example, a group of young virgins destroy the power of two young medicine men who wantonly kill their fellow villagers. There is a clear and strong association between female's adolescent sexuality, indicated by seclusion and protective clothing, and proficiency with medicine power. Consistently, powers associated with female pubescence are cast in a positive light. Other images of female sexuality, however, are equivocal, symbolizing the potential range of actual human behaviour. That is, references to improper sexual action range from episodes of female infidelity to suggestions of seduction. These however, are balanced by accounts of faithful wives and modest virgins. The fact that women are not presented in subordinate roles is critical to understanding Carrier ideals, for in actual life cultural practices were more ambiguous and designed to articulate very forcibly the power of women's fecundity. It is important to understand how Carrier women view their cultural tradition in this regard, for the written ethnographic record offers an unrelenting and harsh view of female sexuality. iii) Rites of Passage When outside observers discuss Carrier women's sexuality and life crises two stereotypes emerge: one portrays adolescents and menstruating women as dreaded, repugnant sources of defilement; the other envisions women as servile beasts of burden victimized by hostile affines and rejected by an unfeeling community when widowed. 109 Traditionally, Carrier women were perceived to be inherently endowed with supernatural powers that were manifested by menstruation and procreation. From the onset of their first menses, adolescent girls were subjected to a period of seclusion ranging from several months to three years. A n adolescent girl was referred to as sak-oesta, "one who stays apart" (Morice n.d.:235) 2 or as a-asta, "she who stays in a hole" (ibid.:236). While sequestered, either singly or with other girls, the menstruant lived in a subterranean home connected to the village only by two strings with which they called for food or water. During this period, the girls wore a special bonnet that shaded their eyes and prevented them from gazing directly into the face of another. 3 Female kin visited pubescent girls to teach them domestic crafts, herbal lore, spiritual knowledge, and a wide range of practical skiils. Prohibitions governing future menses and pregnancies were learned. At no time should menstruating women step over any item of male technology, nor should they look directly at equipment used for hunting or trapping or at fresh running water. Adolescent girls were also instructed in correct deportment and modesty. High born girls in particular were cautioned to behave in a manner appropriate to their social status. At the end of their seclusion, the pubescent girl were ceremoniously reintegrated into the community. Noble families held large potlatches to commemorate the event. 2 Elsewhere (1893:80) Morice glosses sak-oesta as virgin. 3 It should be noted that while Morice provides the fullest description of the ritual attire, he admits to never having seen it (Morice 1893:165). 110 The girl shed her ritually prescribed bonnet and mantle and received a new ceremonial headdress from her father's sister (Morice 1893:165). All menstruants observed strict dietary and behavioural proscriptions. Fresh meats and berries were avoided, direct contact with water and hunting and fishing equipment prohibited, and personal movement restricted. Childbirth commonly took place in an isolated location in the presence of other women. Interpretation of these cultural practices has been based on androcentric notions of a universal abhorrence of menstrual blood and its association with profanity and defilement. Morice links Carrier views to biblical depictions of feminine defilement and pollution (Morice n.d.:235). He argues that the term for menstrual b lood, hwotsi. was also used to designate "evil" (1910:971). Hence, he portrays the adolescent girl as that most dreaded creature.... She was considered by the Carrier so much an etre a part, that she must constantly wear s o m e badge to remind the people of her terrible infirmity, and thereby guard them against the baleful influences she was s u p p o s e d to p o s s e s s (ibid.). Elsewhere, he refers to an "excessive repugnance for, and dread of, menstruating women" (ibid.: 107) and suggests that women's avoidance of a hunter's path indicated that "the hunter would also prefer to see her tear herself up on the bush and thorn than to let her pass in the narrow trail wherein he may have deposited his snares...." because the animals would be "offended" by her defilement and avoid his snares (ibid.; n.d.:236). Morice goes on to state, "a woman having her menses is legally impure, and must be deprived even of the sight of any object endowed with 111 magic properties" (ibid.: 195). In keeping with his notions of Carrier women as lowly persons suffering miserable lives, Morice perceives female seclusion to be a "very trying ordeal" accompanied by "bodily mortifications and penitential privations" (1892:112) and interprets the proscriptions guiding women's movement as indications of deliberate ill treatment (1893:107). He presents women's work from the same perspective. Heavy labour is "drudgery," an indication of women's lowly self-esteem and social inferiority (1893:118,124,148,164; 1910:983; 1889:122). Morice's interpretation of puberty rites and menstrual proscriptions has not been overtly challenged by other observers, even though their data indicate disagreement. Jenness , for example, remarks that the powers of pubescent girls were for "good and evil" (1943:525), but he holds to the concept of menstrual pollution (ibid.).4 Goldman speaks of girls and boys undergoing puberty rites calculated to develop practical motor skills, to gain a guardian spirit, and to enhance health and industriousness. Without elaborating, he states that menstruants were "dangerous to the food supply and practised the usual avoidance of contact with hunters, their equipment, the paths hunters followed, etc." (1963:335). Accounts of death and mourning rituals reinforce images of female misery and 4 Driver records few instances of the girls' curing power outside of the North Pacific Coast and the Athapaskan Southwest where he found it to be the most distinct ideological feature of puberty rites (1941:34). While he did not consider the possibility that this feature might be more widespread, even if not recorded, he does infer that the notion of pollution was more common than generally known (ibid.:29). 112 lowly status. Prior to European influence the Carrier cremated their dead . At the cremation of their husbands, widows were forced by affinal relatives into the funeral pyre to anoint themselves and the body with its dripping fat. It is said that the husband's family were particularly cruel if they suspected the widow had been unfaithful or regarded her as lazy, ungenerous, or a poor mother. Evidently some were forced repeatedly into the flames until they became ill and thoroughly singed (Morice 1889:145). Following the cremation, the widow packed the bones in a skin bag upon her back. Until released from her mourning several years later, she had her face smeared with charcoal and pitch, her hair shorn, and her clothes torn to rags. Her official mourning ended either when the deceased 's heir completed his succession potlatches or when she was deemed to have provided sufficient goods and services to his family. Although it is certain that men were not subjected to carrying the relics of their d e c e a s e d wives, the extent to which Carrier men experienced similar mourning ordeals is unclear. Goldman contradicts himself with regard to the cremation rituals. O n the one hand, he declares that these were reserved for women, on the other, he records two incidents of men enduring similar rites (Legare 1986:123). Morice's accounts are also equivocal. He goes to great lengths to suggest that widows were accorded the lowest social esteem and subjected to harsh if not brutal treatment from their husbands' brothers and sisters. In only one of his various accounts of mourning does he speak of male experiences. In most respects this differed little from that of women. Spouses did not hold property in c o m m o n ; with widowhood 113 property reverted to the deceased 's kin. Widowers gave up personal property, offered gifts to the deceased 's kin, adopted mourning clothing, and provided services to affinal kin (Morice 1889:144-46). Despite the parallel situations, Morice does not suggest that the male experience constituted the "miserable lot" tolerated by women. The earliest available accounts shed little light on the situation. O g d e n describes a man's cremation and the mourning ordeals of his wife but makes no mention of observing a woman's cremation (Ogden 1853:130). McLean asserts that widows withstood extreme degradation from the entire community, including children: every child in the village might c o m m a n d her and beat her unmercifully if they chose, no one interfered (1932:155). Harmon, who elsewhere comments on men's open affection for their wives, suggests that widows, especially young ones, would rather commit suicide than remarry (Harmon 1903:232; cf. McLean 1932:182). Despite the statements of Morice and others, there is.little reason to conclude that either connotations of female sexuality or life crisis rituals symbolized social inferiority or sexual pollution. To clarify, it is necessary to turn again to mythological accounts. Jenness narrates episodes of medicine men employing bone tubes of the same type used by menstruants, adolescent girls destroying evil medicine men, and pubescent girls exercising medicine powers (1934:176,177,158,200). Accord ing to Saik'uz Whut'enne stories, during their vision quests or when facing extraordinary challenges, culture heroes adopted the same food proscriptions as pubescent girls. 114 For example, Galbaniyeh, the swift runner of Saik'uz narratives, fed solely on dried roe and salmon. Since these similarities existed in practice as well as in myth, it is insufficient and erroneous to dismiss ritual and prescribed separation solely on the assumption that the female is polluting or defiling. Many of the proscriptions required of pubescent girls applied equally during the boy's vision quest. According to Saik'uz elders, during a vision quest the youth would eat only dried foods, primarily dried fish and fish roe, and at all costs would avoid fresh meat and grease . 5 Morice tells us that pubescent boys and girls used bone drinking tubes and avoided touching their hair, for, "immediate contact between the fingers and the head were then reputed productive of fatal diseases" (1892:82). Hunters also carried a bone c o m b (Morice 1893:108). Men were held responsible, independently of women, for sexual abstinence prior to a hunt, and, as well, were required to fast, sweat, and thirst in order to maintain harmonious relations with other powers . 6 5 McKennan tells us that adolescent boys of the Chandalar Kutchin observed puberty rituals similar to those of girls. "When the boy's nipples began to harden and his voice began to change ... he wore a short, conical cap whose fringe hung down over his eyes ... [and] mittens." He took precautions to avoid future ill luck and, in seclusion with other youths, under went rigourous training directed by an older man (1965:59). , . 6 Bock points out that among North American Indians, "in their special relationship to hunting, menstruants were not a separate class." Rather, anyone who was ill, was associated with illness, or who was acquiring or practicing medicine powers was thought to be potentially dangerous to hunting power (4967:215). Writing on the Tanana, G u e d o n states that potlatch hosts were "vulnerable to bad luck" and avoided behaviors that might "draw attention of the norihuman powers to the participants." T o avoid repercussions, for two 30 day periods, the host should 115 Equally significant is the fact that pubescent girls performed services calculated to increase personal well being and g o o d fortune. For example, they tattooed adolescent boys (no doubt a painful procedure, which, interestingly, is never descr ibed as an ordeal or bodily mortification), performed healing rituals, and used their powers to neutralize malevolent behaviour (Jenness 1934:176; 1943:525; Morice 1893:166). Countervailing negative stereotypes of women's bodies and supernatural powers is the ceremonial association of women's hair with the status and power of the dunezah. The dunezah's ceremonial wig, made entirely of the hair of the ts'ekezah (Morice 1893:176), is described by Morice as a beautiful head appendage, made up of the hair of three women interspersed with numerous Dentalium shells, etc., which the tenezas wore on grand occasions (Morice 1932:642): Of all ceremonial attire, the wig was most important to the wearer's identity. A s Morice explains, "[the wigs] shared with him the traditional name which they were intended to honour." To part with it meant "forfeiting one's rank and title" (Morice 1893:175). It is interesting to note that wigs of woman's hair were customarily dunezah attire; ts'ekezah wore head-dresses of colourful feathers and shells. Carrier women do not share the negative views of outside observers. O n the contrary, the majority of elders regard pubescent seclusion as a respected tradition vital to individual competence and community well being. While reluctant to provide practice the same ritual taboos as a girl reaching her puberty... (1981: 581). 116 details about seclusion practices, female elders insist that it was a period of intense instruction and learning. Without it, young girls were unlikely to develop strong characters and healthy bodies. When a young girl gets her menstruation she has to stay in a bush no matter how many they are even the single one has to stay in the bush. There's a shelter made for them they stay in there and there's a white string going to them and another string painted red and these two strings they pull, the white string they want water and the red string they pull if they want food, they don't go in public when they're menstruation. They had to be dry to go in the public, that's how strict they were with their health and that's why they're healthy (Veronica George, Stoney Creek Indian Band 1984:19). Seclusion was a time to develop spiritual awareness and a time for young girls to learn to control their inherent powers and to live in balance with the animals. Indiscriminate behaviour offended animals, and any careless or arrogant sexual display was offensive to all. An elderly man explained, Granny, she used to tell them girls how to behave. That's what they did in there all that time. They learned to be strong, how to get along, not to offend the animals or make sickness. It appears that at this time girls acquired medicine power and learned herbal cures. One woman reluctantly offered, The old timers who went that way, they cured the people.... I can't tell you nothing more. You don't just spill all that knowledge anywhere. It's precious, and whites, them, they make fun of us.... Great care was taken to provide secluded girls with rigorous instruction in material arts, cultural ideals, and esoteric knowledge. It was believed that the quality of the girls' conduct during seclusion would influence their adult character. If the secluded 117 girls were virtuous, industrious, and attentive to the teachings of their older kinswomen they would remain s o throughout their lives. Although these views are not elaborated upon publicly, they are revealed in elders' criticisms of alleged inappropriate modern behaviour. One woman, particularly o p p o s e d to rock music, complained that without the old ways of teaching, young girls could not develop strong characters. "Them girls, they don't grow up right, not like the old timers who stayed apart." 7 A similar perception was voiced by the male elder. He feared that adolescent girls would ignore their grandmothers' teachings and remain lazy all their lives. Them, they're all c rooked. Everyone's haywire they hang out with. It's no g o o d now ... they should stay away from them wild boys ... [they should] be off by themselves.... The reluctance of informed elders to discuss menstrual seclusion makes analyses limited. It is worth noting, however, that Carrier practices are comparable in many respects to Yurok observances, and may well have had similar significance. From Buckley, we learn that Yurok women view their menstruation as a time of purity. He tells us that dietary and behavioural proscriptions force them to be fully conscious of their bodies and consequently of their spiritual powers. Women secluded themselves to avoid disrupting their spiritual meditation with mundane tasks. The menstrual hut offered an isolated place for a woman to "go into [her]self and make [her]self stronger" (Buckley 1982:49). 7 Saik'uz elders use the euphemism to "stay apart" in reference to menstrual seclusion. 118 At the same time, Yurok men avoided the complementary, negative influences of menstruation that would affect their psychic or spiritual life ... their ability to exercise power in, among other things, the accumulation of wealth. A menstruating woman who s e d u c e d an unwary man was therefore cisash ([worse than] a d o g ... (ibid.:50). 8 Contemporary Carrier references to menstrual pollution and sexual conduct reflect this better-known male view and appear to contradict the private interpretations of the elders and the symbolic sense expressed in traditional myth. Although contemporary perceptions of menstrual "pollution" may have c o m e as a consequence of assimilating Euro-Canadian attitudes with traditional male views, it is also likely that ambiguous and contradictory explanations emerge from changing socio-political relations. Many younger women, particularly ones without children, express ignorance of traditional views of menstruation. They are familiar with some behaviour proscriptions and the more public view held by their male peers, namely, the notion that women could "hurt" men with their menstrual flow or careless behaviour. A s we will see, it appears that a culture of teasing and sexual competitiveness has affected women's understanding of traditional cosmology. iv) The Social Context Stories the elders tell to the young and outsiders almost invariably contain some aspect of gender relations. During Indian Days at the local secondary school , an 8 In a complementary fashion, women applied the same term to men who forced their attentions on menstruating women. 119 elder woman related stories of Galbaniyeh to an eighth grade audience. In her version, she emphasized the relationship between the hero and his grandmother. She explained that it was this old woman who had prepared Galbaniyeh, Swift Runner, by teaching him to avoid greasy foods, fresh meat, excessive behaviours, and displays of pride. Old Woman instructed Galbaniyeh to be generous, to respect the animals, and to honour the elders. Atypically, the narrator was not content with these indirect allusions to the contemporary significance of elderly women in daily life. Rather, she ended her narration with direct statements of the importance of grandmothers in training the young and in guiding the community. She also emphasized the role of Lame Woman, once ugly but later made beautiful in the sweat lodge. She dwelt on Lame Woman's hard work, skilled hands, and modest behaviour. A n d , adding humour, she alluded to Lame Woman's determination to win the husband of her choice, apparently an "Indian way" for women to behave. After finishing her story, the narrator remarked to a few adults that when she married "it had gone the white man's way." The priest and church chief had arranged her marriage to a man she barely knew. Unlike Lame Woman, she had not pursued the man of her choice. Women appear to favour tales that depict positive female role models. It is not unusual to find women stressing the significant role of Old Woman. For example, one woman stressed, "Stas, even he, that one, asked an old woman." Another time she pointed out, "Galbaniyeh, he wasn't nothing without a woman." It appears that these stories are related to demonstrate that it is "the white man's way, not the Indian 120 way that puts women down." In recalling mythical foremothers, contemporary elders liken themselves to grandmothers of myth and legend. They claim validity for their own knowledge because they learned it from their genealogical grandmothers. Thus a woman may be viewed as knowledgeable because she was raised by her grandmother, while the actions and knowledge of others may be open to skepticism and dismissal if they had been orphaned or left without a grandmother. In challenging the knowledge of her contemporary, a highly respected elder said. "She spent too much time in the residential school . Her mother died, and an orphan doesn't know much without her grandmother." She went on to add, "You can't lead your people the white man way, they don't raise up the girls right for that." When narrating tales privately, particularly to an outsider or to children unfamiliar with the tale, women tend towards explication of modern behaviour in reference to mythical representation. For example, when an elder related the myth of Galbaniyeh to me and s o m e of her grand-daughters, she paused to praise a young daughter-in-law, saying that like Lame Woman, she was a g o o d worker and a g o o d wife. A m o n g celebrated stories of women's powerful sexuality, tales of women accosting and sitting on federal fisheries officers are highly popular. The stories vary in detail, but all relate a similar incident. A fisheries officer arrives at the riverside to check nets or to destroy traps. While the men remain on the shore, the women force the officer into the water and sit down upon him. The stories provide one illustration of how women evoke traditional symbols to justify and explain their assertive social 121 and political action. References to women sitting on fisheries officers are made either in highly charged political contexts or in direct reference to former political confrontations. This was brought to my attention most forcibly when the band administration staff found themselves confronting situations involving representatives of the provincial Fish and Wildlife Branch of the Department of Recreation and Conservation. O n the first occasion, an officer, not well liked by the community, arrived unannounced at the band administration office. Not introducing himself, he brusquely asked the receptionist in the lobby where the band manager could be found. He proceeded without invitation to her office. His visit was brief; his discussion more or less a monologue, sufficiently loud to carry down the corridor, was punctuated by an occasional quiet murmur from the band manager. He left as he had arrived, without acknowledging the workers he brushed past, and thereby missing the knowing looks they shared. The band manager appeared from her office and said to no one in particular, "Women used to sit on them." She then turned to me and said, "You should ask Mom about it." The officer had come to "call a meeting" of the chief and band to discuss regulations for net fishing. Specifically, he wished to further limit the use of gill nets in the streams and lakes and to supervise and record all catches. Deferring to his demands, the band manager had agreed to a meeting which she announced to the staff with the words, "We'll have to get the women together. Maybe we could get the elders' van." 122 At the meeting, which occurred some weeks later, the elderly women were prominent. A few men gathered at the back of the assembly. The same fisheries officer was introduced and asked to "take the meeting." He did s o reluctantly because the elected chief, a man in his early forties, was not present. After beginning to address the meeting, the officer paused to ask where the men were and to inquire if they were too lazy to c o m e out. Angered by his attitude several women rose to defend the men, explaining that "fishing is women's business; women speak for fish." They made it clear that men had other responsibilities for which they took charge. Later, the officer addressed several young men, again offending older women who rose to ask him why he listened to young men, who they said, "didn't know beans." At the conclusion of the meeting, after the officer had left, references were once again made to sitting on fisheries officers. Although women were sharing their stories amongst themselves, it was apparent that young men and women were expected to listen. A few days later, during an informal, private discussion with the elected chief, the story was raised again. Dissatisfied with the officer's expectations, the chief abruptly asked, "Did you know that women used to sit on those guys?" A s the meeting ended, he indicated his reluctance to involve himself directly, preferring to leave the matter in the hands of the women. Women narrate these stories proudly. These episodes reveal the prominence of assertive women in actions taken to protect fishing rights and to proclaim the independence of Carrier resource management. They also illuminate the pride 123 women have in the powers that stem from their physiology. Allusions to menstrual flow and genitalia evoke a multidimensional sense of power: women's sexuality is not necessarily dangerous or offensive, but it is at o d d s with the powers of men and of animals. O n the one hand, circumspect behaviour protects everyone from its potency, on the other hand, deliberate public confrontation, such as the legendary case of the fisheries officer, indicates a positive valence of power--a socially c o n d o n e d confrontation in the community's interest. In fact, the humiliation of the fisheries officer has the same symbolic connotation as found in the myth The Boys'  Vengeance (Jenness 1934:175). 9 Controlled use of female sexuality is an approved method of diminishing hostile male powers. Related before an audience of young women and men, the stories have another message: women's, particularly elders', rights to political action are not to be discounted by young men. The message for the non-Indian audience is that Carrier women are unlike white women; they are neither to be subordinated to male authority nor to be ignored as political leaders in their own right. Rather, they are to be viewed as autonomous actors, willing and able to stand up for their rights as Carrier people. The fact remains, however, that men are ambivalent in their attitudes toward female autonomy and sexuality. This is made evident by their allusions to the 9 In this narrative, a community is being ravaged by two young, evil medicine men. Old Woman advises the community to have twenty adolescent girls confront the two boys. This is done, and the evil power is destroyed (Jenness 1934:175-177). 124 destructive potency of female sexuality. When in the bush with a male hunter, a middle-aged woman instructed me to walk behind him, at the edge of the path. She explained he would travel in a circular route (to avoid crossing our intended path), and return to the boat before us. His rifle would be placed in the back of the boat, as far as possible from where we would sit. When asked to explain her instructions, she said simply, "The animals wouldn't like it if we polluted his gun." Further questions were met with discomfort and a final retort, "He can't hunt if you don't behave." In fact, great care was taken to prevent our contact with the gun, and when hunting proved unsuccessful, we were teased. "I guess you guys stepped over it anyway.... Why are you so crooked, ruining my hunt?" Teasing also takes place between young men and older women. At a political meeting an elder, acting as an advisor to the Tribal Council , playfully threatened to sit on the chair of a councillor. With considerable humour she suggested that he would be "in real trouble" if she "shamed" him in this fashion. Not all encounters of this nature are marked by g o o d humour. Gender antagonism is revealed when men accuse women of deliberately violating taboos. A young woman of twenty recalled an incident from her childhood that had bewildered and intimidated her. A n uncle (mother's sister's husband), known for a propensity toward violence, had a c c u s e d his wife of touching his gun while menstruating and had threatened to punish her. The woman's mother intervened and suggested that the gun be cleansed by a young "virgin." The five year old child was commanded to shoot the rifle. At the time, this had little meaning for the girl who 125 now recalls only that it was "frightening" and that her mother and aunts were angry at the accusation and the threatened violence. In sum, there exist two views of female powers: a positive view articulated by elderly women, and a more negative, but often teasing, perception of pollution expressed by men and young women. These opposing views are expressed in different social circumstances and they influence interpretations of gender relations. T h e G o o d T i m e s and the Hard T imes When people of Saik'uz speak of their past they invariably compare their present or past hardships with better times. This is neither unusual nor surprising: historical reconstructions are grounded in the search for a past era of cultural autonomy and social achievement. What is of interest, however, is that women and men select different historical periods as "the good and the hard times." In the remainder of this chapter I contrast women and men's oral histories, relating them to gender-discrete understandings of women's changing social positions, economic roles, and community responsibilities. Saik'uz elders d o not share a consensual view of the quality of life enjoyed by their foremothers. S o m e women and men perceive the aboriginal way of life as a g o o d time for women. They claim that prior to European contact women enjoyed high social status as the "grandmothers of the people." They also speak of domestic harmony and women's domestic authority. That [fighting] started since that time. During my time, with drinking the fighting came. The old timers, my granny, he [sic], even her, she was respected. Granny had authority.... 126 Male elders who speak of the respect for mothers and grandmothers impress upon us that this did not automatically protect women from violence and subordination. The legendary massacre of Chin lac , 1 0 they remind us, e n d e d with the murder and captivity of women. [The. Blackwater chief] took a woman back with him for his wife. She was just like a slave to him then and she kept watching out, waiting.... S o m e women also stress the fate of young girls and women who were exchanged as peace offerings. "Poor things," said one woman, "there wasn't any women's lib for them." She spoke of the hard times suffered by widows and of women's physical labours. Away back then, before my grandparents' time [women] were just like slaves ... [it] was a man's world. Women were just like pack animals and never had a say. A few elder women argue that men and women shared clan leadership. These women say a clan mother and a clan father "stood beside one another," Just because the men had 'big shot names' they didn't b o s s over the women ... every clan had a mother and a father. A n elder from Nadleh, whose father was a chief and whose mother was raised in Saik'uz, says, The respected people, those big shots with names, they were the council in them days. The chief, he had to listen to them, 1 0 There are several accounts of an attack on Chinlac that resulted in the massacre of the entire village, apart from one woman who was taken captive. Accord ing to Morice's version, the Chilcotin attacked Chinlac in 1745 (1978:15-19). Saik'uz accounts attribute the attack to the Blackwater Carrier. 127 not do what he pleased. He looked after the people... . When asked if women "were pushed around," as one Saik'uz male elder had suggested, she went on to say, 'Uloo [mother], she was married to a chief. She had a name and everyone respected her. She was the boss . It was a matriarchy ... it wasn't any different for a chief. Women had names too, and they made the decisions. Chiefs were more for show after the priests came. 'Uloo, she came from Stoney Creek and she knew the old timers' way. Chiefs listened to the women just like everybody else. Accounts of the aboriginal subsistence cycle also reveal gender-specific views of women's social position. While women stress that their foremothers were centrally involved in food production and trapping, men tend to locate women's activities in the domestic routine and to minimize women's contributions when describing hunting and trapping. Men stress the hard labour of hunting caribou or the risks involved in hunting bears. Reminiscences of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reveal similar differences in female and male world views. Elderly men acclaim the collective and individual s u c c e s s of their grandfathers and fathers to a far greater degree than they praise their grandmothers and mothers. While men tend towards glorification of the past--as when they say, "they had everything them days, ... the men made a real g o o d living trapping and hunting for everybody,"--they make scant reference to the work of women. Men describe hunting and trapping as if this were solely their work. "Women sometimes helped. But it was their work to make skins and dry meat." A s one stated, 128 Everybody made a g o o d living them days. The men trapped all over. Plenty of furs during that time for everybody. Chief Paul, this was his territory and he ran it for all the men.... O n the other hand, women speak proudly of foremothers who trapped and hunted alongside the men. In their eyes women laboured independently and shared equally the burden of production. According to one elderly woman, All the women, they trap too. Just like the men. They pack their babies with them and work their lines next to their husbands' . Sure women worked hard back then. Poor things, they worked just like men in the bush.. . . My mother-in-law came here from Cheslatta when she got married. Right from then to an old woman she trapped. In men's eyes, their forefathers prospered as a result of their hard work and rugged personalities. Men praise their forefathers for their farming s u c c e s s e s and for their entrepreneurship. Two men offered the following views: Even before the surveyors come, we had our farms going. After that time, we had our farms all over, Tatuk, Laketown, Noonla, all over ... we started working the land. A little at a time we kept improving the land, making it a little bigger.... The barley grew tall and we had a g o o d crop out of it. We were all g o o d farmers back in that time, everybody was making it on their farms. The women too, they helped on the farms. Daddy and Granddad left after seeding. Sometimes we all went. Me, I remember even before I walk going too. They went to Quesnel to sell their furs and get supplies. Granny and 'uloo [mother] they all went. When we get back we cut the grain and make hay for the livestock ... sometimes Granny and 'uloo, they stay behind. My dad , he had a sawmill right where the town is now. In the 129 summer too he was busy making timber to sell. He sold to the farmers all over here. That's before the town, before when they get ready and build the railroad. Men tend to describe women's farm work, as "helping out." They also pass over women's work in the tie camps. In contradistinction, women perceive domestic work as integral to both farming and tie production. "They all made those ties, the women raising them kids right there in that camp." "Mom and d a d , back then, they started the first farm." While not contradicting their statements as to the domest ic authority of women and the respect for mothers and grandmothers, older men counter claims of full equality with reference to the prominence of male chiefs of the late nineteenth century. Tradition speaks of one Nulki family maintaining an unbroken line of patrilineal succession as the dyeeyaz . 1 1 "little" or "second" chief. The rule of succession for the dyeecho. "big chief," from Tachick was originally within the matriline. The mother of the earliest Tachick chiefs now recalled by name, Kelcho (Paul) and his brother Adam, was Tachickwoten, their father Nescosliwoten. After Kelcho, succession was patrilineal, according to one of his male descendants, It went through the men. We go back to chief Kelcho. He had four wives but just two were from here. Him and his brother, A d a m they called him, were chiefs. After him [Kelcho, baptised Paul] his son, Antoine. You can see it all in the graveyard. Down through the sons , to today. Now we don't do it that way anymore. Them young guys get in there with election and it doesn't matter who their father was Just the church chiefs, their fathers, they were the big shots. 1 1 Dyee, often spelt "tyee," is Chinook jargon for "chief." 130 Men speak of this era as a g o o d time, making few if any references to hardship and social disruptions unless pressed to d o so . The smallpox epidemic of 1862 is important in men's narratives because it marked the beginnings of Saik'uz, and the 1918 influenza epidemic is stressed because it is associated with subsequent loss of trapping areas. Other epidemics, however, are mentioned only in relation to personal histories. Women, however, stress the social burdens experienced by their foremothers and suggest that the ramifications of depopulation were felt differently by women and men. For example, in order to provide care for orphans, some young women were forced to postpone motherhood, while some older women assumed full responsibility for grandchildren. Men say little of the inequities of a system of contract labour that favoured them. Gender tensions that developed with railroad tie production and entrepreneurship are revealed only by the women. They remind us of their unpaid labour and dependency on men for cash. ... they started the tie business. Hundreds, maybe thousands of ties them womans [sic] peeled, but they didn't get money for that. Just the men did. It was the same thing for us. It was a man's world. Hundreds of ties I peeled... . A n d what did I get paid? Nothing. Just the men. Those men got it all. In the twenties the men worked out everywhere. Sometimes [the women] were left alone for a long time. The women did it all then and fed everybody. If they [the men] came back without money or supplies, the women fed them too. Women's and men's accounts of this period also differ with respect to conversion 131 to Christianity. W o m e n discuss at length the contradictory impact of the Catholic missionaries. Although they are quick to praise the church for ending traditional treatment of widows and for teaching women new domestic skills, women are equally prompt to criticise the priests' attitudes towards aboriginal marriage practices. A n elderly descendent of Chief Kelcho offered this account: They made it just one boss, dyeecho. That was Kelcho. Dyeeyaz. he was for Laketown. The priest spoke against Kelcho's wives. Then he sent away the old one and all her children. Long ago they married real close, cousins that's who. But that was too close, it makes the blood weak, just like water. S o they changed that too. Just a few, they got married, but the people spoke against it. Brothers and sisters they marry [i.e. brothers of one family marry sisters of another]. Chief John and his brother they do that. But that they give up too. A n d when a man he dies it used to be his brother got his wife. That too, everything the priest puts a stop to. M o n o g a m o u s sexual relations were idealized. Harsh punishments, whipping at the altar, for example, were meted out to alleged transgressors. The priest's appointed watchmen and policemen were charged with maintaining close surveillance over the entire community. A n elderly woman stated, The church chief and the sundayman ... were in charge... . and , they were fooling around. The [church] chief, he took them to the church ... hands tied up like this [behind the back]. A curfew that applied equally to children and to single adults, persisted until the 1930s. Two women, childhood playmates, recall, The bell rang at nine. We were out playing at the edge of the bush. We sure run when we heard that bell. Everybody had 132 to be inside. The watchman, he went around the whole village. We run real fast up behind the village. That time he didn't catch us. Everybody was s u p p o s e d to be inside. If kids were caught, the watchmen, they were like police men, they licked us. I didn't get caught much, but once I got licked. Perceptions of church control over the personal lives of the people vary and are not specific to gender. The rigidity of the church hierarchy is viewed with mixed feelings. Whippings at the altar and in the church schools are remembered with bitterness. But much of the control of the church chief and his captain is spoken of with nostalgia. This is particularly so when the elders consider current difficulties associated with rearing children, and the overall stress of living in a tightly b o u n d e d community. The same two women lamenting the past, shared their views: It was all different back then. Even when I was a kid [1920s], the chief was in charge. Everybody obeyed the chief and the sundayman. No drinking, no running around. You got punished. Taken to the chief and captain. Nine o'clock church bell. We'd be out playing and hear that bell. Run home fast as anything.... Everything different. The chief, he could do something to set things right, but now nothing. Who's got authority? The chief and council change every two years. They can't do nothing. Elections are no g o o d . Nobody people can get in there and they can't d o nothing about the drinking.... The general sentiment of nostalgia for a past social harmony is the clearest point of agreement between women and men as to what constituted a "good time for the people." The Catholic priests opposed matrilineal descent; Morice (1902), for example, 133 argued that it was contrary to Catholic principles and a barrier to moral advancement. Emphasis on patrilineal descent brought with it a new set of gender perceptions that restricted women's public roles for the following half century. In the words of one older woman, The church business was all run by men. We used to be a matriarchy and the church was going to put a stop to all of that. The men thought they were big shots who could stand on their own. It is a c o m m o n perception among women of Saik'uz that conversion to Catholicism introduced the most radical changes distinguishing their traditional life from their current one. This is particularly apparent in their descriptions of their youth and early adulthood. While men are apt to point to trapline registration in 1926 and economic hardships after 1929 as the crises that ended "the g o o d times" and disrupted an established life style, women are less likely to speak of an abrupt transition from g o o d to hard times. Rather, with respect to their experiences in the Lejac Residential School and their arranged marriages, women commonly speak of the constraints imposed by church-based authority. Today 's female elders were among the first students at the Lejac School when it opened in 1922. 1 2 They present contradictory recollections of their school years. All remember the loneliness, resentment, boredom, and humiliation they endured due 1 2 My earlier research (1981) provides a fuller account of Carrier women's perceptions of the Lejac School . What follows here is a brief synopsis of women's recollections based in part on the earlier research as well as on informants' statements recorded in 1983 and 1984. 134 to the restricted and tightly organised school routine. Despite hardships and limited scholastic education, however, women claim to be grateful for learning practical domestic skills and learning to read. S o m e credit schooling for their later s u c c e s s as mothers, chiefs, councillors, and workers. Marriages were arranged by the priest and his chief for young girls as soon as they left residential school or when they sought work outside the reserve. Three women describe their arranged marriages. Even way back then, them priests and chiefs, they fixed the marriages. They did that to my mother, I think, and they did that to me. The chief c o m e s up and says, "Who you're gonna marry?" That was all dec ided by them those days. Father C o c c o l a kept me in Lejac for a long, long time. I was an orphan, and he wouldn't let me out until I was ready to get married. One day he told me I was going to marry that old man. His wife was dead and he had a bunch of kids. S o , I married him. Gee , it sure was hard.... The chief and priest found out I worked for a white lady. At that time the priests were very hard on the young people. The chief found out and made me get married right away. They tell me I go wild if I go some place else. That's why they force marriage. It was all in the hands of the priest. He watched us growing up and then him and the church chief they forced us to get married. Just like that, maybe 15, maybe 16. Just that quick they made it happen. Lots of girls cry all the way to the altar. Me, I didn't cry. I was too proud. I didn't let anybody see my tears. One woman recalls fighting against her arranged marriage and her bitterness when she failed. She points to the priest as the cause of too much "fooling around" because the young girls were married too young and to men for whom they didn't 135 care. It was for the men that these marriages were made, she explains, not for the young girls. It was only for the men. The priests kept the women out of everything and treated them like babies. That's the neydoh [white man's] way of doing things. Men have less to say about their marriages. Only one broached the subject during an interview, and his reminiscences were unhappy ones. He remembers his marriage ceremony. The priest stood us up together. Put her hand there, in mine, and told her to obey me always. Told me I was the b o s s and we would stay together. [He repeats the gesture several times.] Nobody else, just her for the rest of my life, just her.... Not like them old timers eh? They had two wives. Kelcho, he had four. But me, just one, the one the priest and chief give me. Them young guys, they get to choose. Nowadays they have a say. With the separation of female and male labour in the 1920s and 1930s came separate realms of decision making. In periods of male absence women assumed community leadership; in male presence they were officially si lenced by priests and state representatives. An elderly woman offered the following criticisms. The priests and chiefs were in charge then. They g o right past the women. What do they think women d o by themselves? All the time the men were away working, the women did everything. They ran this place then.... Consequently, tensions grew between women and men, as indicated by another woman's comment: It was the white man's way to go over the heads of us women. Our mothers, they were quiet about it I guess , but it caused trouble. The women had to speak up at home where they had great influence. They had to get their husbands to act. It was 136 the women who were behind the men.... Women who now enter the political forum as councillors and chiefs suggest that the generation of women before would not have approved. Apparently these women accepted the church's position that public roles are the province of men. S o m e elders now say that in their mothers' generation, women who were married to the chiefs were most severely restricted. According to a daughter-in-law of a former chief, They [chief's wives] were trained to be quiet and to let their husbands do the talking. They would never approve of women doing men's business. Never. My mother-in-law, she was married to a chief. She was always quiet. She never spoke up. It wasn't right then. She wouldn't like me doing this now.... Men who oppose female leadership resort to the words of the priests. One man offered this view: Men, dunezah. that's who should be chief. That is the way we follow G o d , the way it is with the church. Government is s u p p o s e d to be in G o d ' s way or it won't work. Women's focus on growing gender differences with respect to work and social responsibility continues to characterize their life stories of the depression years. Once again, men's stories say little about women's lives and work. They present the depression years as a hard time for men that ended with the prosperity of the war years, as illustrated by the accounts of two elders. We sure had a hard time. The white guys, they got the big contracts. We went all over for jobs and we hacked for them white guys. It was tough until the war time. Since that time, when they registered them traplines, then we 137 suffered. It was hard to get jobs, and we were losing all our lines. The tie business, when it went, we were in trouble. Right until the war, then I signed up.... Interestingly, women are less prone than men to characterize the war years as a g o o d time. Although men tend to celebrate the return of better economic times, their sisters and wives recall their own extraordinary hard work, family tensions, and personal struggles. Just as before: when the men went away us women had to stay and look after everything ourselves. Nearly everybody had horses. Nearly everybody had cattle. We had to help one another, us women. The cattle needed to be inside when it froze. The horses too. We had to feed them two times a day. Water them two times too. All the time he was gone, I did all the things I did when he was here. Put up the hay myself, garden, keep the cattle. O n c e you got to depend on yourself you got to depend on yourself. You can't wait for that one to come around. They blame war time prosperity for increased alcohol use and marital problems. That guy [speaker's husband] was a g o o d provider. But when he was working up at that mine he spent all his cheque on drinking. After that, he wanted to drink like them white guys. Before that time liquor was no problem. We were too close to the [church] chief. Everybody stayed sober... . That drinking ruined us when the war came and our men went away. They could get booze anywhere then. He made himself a white man. It wasn't no land he was after, it was the booze. I stuck it out .... The priest said, "You gotta stay, he's your husband and you can't run off." But he was drinking all the time. , him too, that's when he started, and look at [his wife], she was beaten up when he went haywire with that booze. O n c e again, women stress the impact of illness, but men rarely do so . A young 138 woman stated, M o m took in when he had T.B. Then we all got it. Five of us were sent away to hospital. My brother, he spent five years without his feet ever touching the floor, just lying there sick. My sister lost a lung, and me too. We were all real sick. If M o m hadn't nursed [the sick man] no one would have taken care of him. She didn't know it would get her kids too. Even after the war, while the men were still working, epidemics plagued families: Those were hard years for us women. Our babies died of that typhoid. The creek water was no g o o d anymore. Full of d e a d fishes, and polluted.... When the post-war boom ended, gender separation and conflicts became more dramatic and more firmly rooted to economic structures. Women no longer enjoyed the s a m e freedom to work at bush subsistence activities. The introduction of day school and family allowance payments (which were linked to regular school attendance) tied them to the reserve. A woman recalls, I stayed back with the kids and he [speaker's husband] went to the [fish] camp with his mother, maybe others. Before that we all went. We had the school here now, and the kids were all home with us. I fish here, at home then. Since that time [1944-1956], everything is different. We had them baby cheques and the kids at home. We don't go into the bush the same as before then. That little bit of money sure helped. No more tie camps after that, and not so much work for the men. We women, I guess you would say, were stuck doing it all. Our husbands they went to work for the highways if they could, and we went to get jobs too. That's with all the kids at home. There were hard times again. No more work for the men. The loss of jobs for men brought new feelings of demoralization. W o m e n and men point to a further increase in alcohol use. A man said, 139 ... men just gave up. That's when they drank, and me, sure me too, I drank. We didn't have any work you see, and it was hard not to work. Then they brought in that welfare and that made it too easy to drink. Drinking is killing my people. All of us started drinking then and too many are still going at it.... That liquor destroyed us. It's still with us. Even me, I still drink, haven't s topped yet. It'll kill me maybe. That guy [speaker's wife] she stopped. She's a g o o d woman now. Me, I still drink this poison. A s difficult at this period was for women, they found new hope and purpose in employment opportunities in the expanding towns and tourist industry. Women who remained working at the hospital or local fish resorts are ambivalent about the opportunities of the late fifties and sixties. Since that time there hasn't been work for anybody. We lost the hospital jobs by 1970 when M retired. Not since then, when everything was mechanized and the tie camps gone ... Since that time we are nobody. But for most, the g o o d times had passed by ten years earlier. Two older women see the construction of the Kemano Dam in 1952 as the symbol of a lost lifeway. One points to ecological changes that have created greater hardships and to the flooding of her grandmother's grave at Cheslatta; the other to the destruction of the mythological home of the Carrier dwarfs. Why do they suffer us? When they made that dam nobody was ready. Just a little bit in front of the water, they were running from it. Everything they lost.... The bones came up. My grandmother, all of them, their bones floated away. I tell them, why do they suffer my people? Now the creek is gone. Look at it. No fish can live in it any more. Since that time, nothing lives in that creek. Everything 140 is hard on my people since that time. The dam, that's where the little people, the dwarfs, they lived. They sure must have been happy. Laughing all the time. Sure, they laughed at everything. Both end their stories with the same sentiment, "since that time we are nobody." G e n d e r In T h e Political Context Gender-discrete interpretations of the past come to the fore in public debates on political issues. Women lay public claim to a past matriarchy or female equality when they contest tribal and council elections and when they debate the reinstatement of non-status persons and their future role in self-government. It is not unusual for men to discount these claims. While men seem never to disparage maternal authority, they often reject the notion of female authority in the public realm and even the idea of prevailing gender equality. When women discredit male leadership as "the white man's way," their male opposition upholds it on the same grounds. Male leaders legitimate their position within the context of Christian law, the "word of Jesus." In this context forefathers are praised for their conversion to Catholicism-for accepting G o d ' s will that "men be the bosses"--and for acquiescing in state definitions of Indianness as given in the Indian Act (1951: Section 12 [1] [b]). In the words of one band chief, whose mother was from Saik'uz, "Jesus never said, 'In 1984 women were going to be equal.'" At a Carrier Sekani Tribal Assembly, the same chief discredited his sister's assertion of a past matriarchy, "Maybe that's the way it was with the old timers. That's not G o d ' s way." In rebuttal, the sister addressed the assembly as follows: 141 We were a matriarchy. In every household the mother had the authority. My mother married a chief, but she was the b o s s . He never went against her. Just like her mother, the old timers, it was the women who were in charge. This confrontation led the assembly into a general debate on the question of band membership and the issue of reinstating women who had involuntarily lost their Indian status. A number of women and men suggested that the bands should take a c o m m o n stand on the question of women's status. They argued that a matrilineal people should not "lose its women because of white man's law" and suggested that bands which had not yet done so, declare themselves exempt from the Indian Act as provided for by the Governor General's Proclamation in 1982. A heated exchange followed. Two of the women speakers, both of whom wished to marry white men without loss of band membership, showed their distress. This in turn prompted two men, one married to a white woman struggling to be incorporated into Carrier society, to oppose band exemption. He remarked to bystanders surrounding him, "It sure tickles me to see them cry. They're white women already." The past status of women leaders is important to those who seek self-government with legislative powers. O n the one hand, there are women who are adamant that any forthcoming system of self-government acknowledge either a past matriarchy, or at least female equality. On the other hand, there are men who argue for a future government of hereditary chiefs assisted by an elected council. In the latter case , men argue for a patrilineal succession of duly recognized dunezah 142 whose forefathers include dyeeyaz or dyeecho. While both sides agree that future governing bodies should be structured upon the ideals of the balhats and clan system, they differ on the issue of gender. It is not surprising, therefore, that female leaders seize opportunities to press their case. At the 1984 All Clan Gathering of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council , women from Saik'uz stressed the past roles of female clan leaders. Each clan had a clan mother and a clan father. They s tood beside each other. Without a mother and a father, the clan was like a broken family.... A matriarchal past was also described. The women had the authority. We were a matriarchy. Our grandmothers were bosses , and everyone listened to them. The nature of the clan gathering was transformed from an open discussion of past balhats practices to their actual enactment when a woman, a close friend and distant relative of the leading women of Saik'uz, was insulted. Since she was ts'ekezah, with an honourary name to mark her high status, careful ceremony was required to return her to the hall, which she had left, and to wipe out the insult to her name. Her strongest support came from women from Saik'uz. W o m e n of the appropriate clan spoke on her behalf and raised the prerequisite money and g o o d s for her to return without embarrassment. While men also involved themselves and contributed to the "payout," they contented themselves with following the leadership of the women. Women are conscious that actions such as these make a statement about 143 prevailing gender relations. An elder women had the following explanation of the incident and her role within it. B was insulted and the opposite clan brings her back. We women did that for her. She'll return it with interest to us. It's important for us women to do this s o the younger generation will learn.... A s e c o n d woman a d d e d , Yes , that's right. It's up to us women. All those young people, they're here to learn the clan system. They watch us. It's the women who have to teach them kids. Our men don't do nothing, they aren't even here.... We need strong women in the clans. We have our clan leaders, they're like clan mothers. If the women don't do it , nobody 's going to do it. H , she should get seated so she can follow her mother. She could be clan leader some day, maybe. A n d one woman, a clan leader, explained the connection between this incident and a general concern for future self- government. We had self-government before that time. The potlatch, that was our self-government. That's what this clan gathering is all about, to find out how to go about it. But we're not like you white folks you know. We show our younger generation. That's what they'll learn from watching us... . They'll learn self-government and they'll be ready for it. We need g o o d leaders, and now they see how we do it for our people. When pushed for further explanation, she added , Without our clan leaders we are going to be nobody people, just nothing. Women pass on what we know to the younger generation. We show respect, that's why we brought B back inside. When she pays us back with interest she'll be respected. That's why she does it. If you don't, people won't 144 listen to you.. . . They won't respect the name. You can't lead your people like that, in shame. You gotta wipe out the insult and make the name g o o d . Then you can lead again. Despite their insistence that this incident provided a learning experience for the young, women consciously played out their act before an important male audience. A short time earlier, a male chief had addressed the crowd on the issue of self-government and the need for self-determination of citizenship within a Carrier nation. He criticized federal governments proposals for reinstating nonstatus women and their children. Several of the women involved in the insult payment had been affected by the nonstatus issue (the insulted women had a consensual marriage with a white man in order to retain her status). They expressed concern that resistance to reforming legislation would perpetuate the sexual discrimination of the Indian Act. Arguing that all women "should be brought back in" because "we are from our mother's side," several of the women rose to again emphasize the role women play in transmitting their culture to the young people. It seems to be no coincidence, therefore, that within an hour of this debate these same women demonstrated their high status and their cultural knowledge before a group of male leaders who saw this gathering as their own opportunity "to learn about our own self-government from the elders." S u m m a r y A n d C o n c l u s i o n s In changing material conditions, traditional images, stereotypes, and symbols are granted new meanings. Women and men have gender-specific views of women's sexual and reproductive functions. Whereas men are ambivalent about women's 145 sexuality and uneasy about menstrual pollution, female elders are unequivocal in their perceptions of women's inherent powers and strengths. Gender-specif ic perceptions are illustrated by relative emphasis men and women grant male and female productive roles and the church-based system of male dominance. Men's historical narratives tend to diminish women's economic production. Women's accounts, however, stress the collective basis of production locating all of women's labour, including domestic tasks, at the centre of economic activities. Although women do not share a consensual view of the quality of life in aboriginal times, they do have c o m m o n interpretations of the impact of Christian conversion. Women recognize that Catholic ideology and practice created formal structures of female subordination and significantly reshaped male perceptions of femaleness to include notions of a God-granted mandate for male superordination. When women and men publicly confront and challenge each other they draw upon gender-divergent views of Carrier and Christian ideologies. Women legitimate their political struggle by reference to aboriginal perceptions of femaleness, while some men justify their opposition to women by reference to male interpretations of Christian doctrine and Euro-Canadian practice. In the next chapter, I consider the influence of women's cultural views on socialization practices and the definition of women's community responsibilities. 146 0 C H A P T E R FIVE  W O M E N ' S L IVES: D A U G H T E R S , M O T H E R S . L E A D E R S Introduction In Chapter Four, I d iscussed the meanings of sexual differentiation within Carrier cultural tradition. I stressed the importance of understanding gender-specific definitions and interpretations of sexual symbols and changing gender relations. I concluded that female stereotypes and mythological symbols are viewed positively by women and are seen as an historical mandate for contemporary female leadership. I now ask, What is the connection between the strong value placed on nurturing and women's motivation for public leadership? How are domestic and community responsibilities linked in the women's world view? In substance and organization, this chapter adheres as closely as possible to the structure the Saik'uz Whut'enne give to their thoughts and world view. Two popular vernacular phrases signify the essence of women's self-esteem and cultural significance. The first, "a little girl is not for nothing," is a statement on female fecundity and cultural identity in a matrilineal society. The second , "unless there is a woman," is a comment on women's necessary contributions to all successful family and community based endeavors. These two phrases, frequently found in informants' interviews and used conversationally by women to explain their views of women's social significance, provide an organizational schema for a reconstruction of the Saik'uz world view. When women of Saik'uz speak of themselves, they evoke 147 three themes: female fecundity, nurture, and social responsibility. They may speak of these as individual aspects of women's lives, but their colloquial phrases impart no arbitrary boundaries between them. Rather, using a range of figurative phrases and metaphors, the women indicate the indivisibility of reproductive roles and other broad social responsibilities. Also organized within vernacular categories is a discussion of the personal attributes of female leaders. I focus on Carrier distinctions between socially active women, labelled "strong" women and "good" women, and all other women. I discuss how these terms differentiate women according to their personal achievements. I begin with a description of socialization practices, and then turn to descriptions of women whose lives reflect cultural ideals of nurture. A Little Girl is not for Nothing i) Birth and Childhood Because matrilineal identity is so important to them, women stress their fecundity. Their world view integrates Christian principles with precontact tradition. The act of giving birth links women to the distant past, and through Christ, into the infinite future. "You come from your mother and you go to God ," an elder women exclaims to men. "You men only come in between." In this manner, women remind men that their lives and ancestral identity c o m e from women. "A little girl is not for nothing" signifies the importance given to the birth of a girl. By alluding to a female child's future role as a mother and a member of her mother's clan, this statement makes the natural value of women culturally explicit. 148 The birth of a girl is met with particular joy. She ensures the continuation of the family and clan into yet another generation. As women murmur to a tiny infant girl, they tell her that she will always walk in the moccasins of her grandmother. S o m e day she will take a grandmother's name. If her grandmother is renowned for particular gifts and leadership, they tell the baby that she, too, will be "strong" and "gifted." Whether or not the child is baptized with the name of a female relative, she will be addressed affectionately by names or nicknames of her accompl ished matrilineal ancestors. Women also greet the infant as a potential member of her matriclan. She will be "around for a long time to help," they say. "She will become a mother in her clan, that little girl; she will keep our clan going." Frequently, an infant girl will be baptized with her maternal grandmother's name, which indicates "where she came from." Sarah took her grandmother's name. Just before my mother died I told her that I was going to have a girl. S o I asked her for her name. Sarah is like my mom. She shares her things and she goes all the time to the river when we net [fish]. She will net fish and look after her people and be strong, like my mom. It's very important to hold on to the names of the old timers. We come from our mother's family. To know who we are we take our grandmothers' names as far back as we can go . My grandmother's name hasn't been taken. I could have had it, but I didn't want to be high toned and act like a big shot. My daughter wanted to take it, but she can't pay for it. Now it should go to that one [indicating her youngest daughter's first child, still an infant]. That one, too, will follow her grandfather, 149 and she can be a double header, one from both sides of the table [i.e. with membership in both clans]. She 's real smart that one, and if she's g o o d , she can take the name. 1 Men share in the pleasure a girl's birth brings to family and clan. By referring to foremothers, men, like women, express their identity. When asked for their genealogy, or when they wish to validate their claims to traditional knowledge, status, or community privilege, elders stress the social status of their matrilineal foremothers. Men refer with pride and give primacy to their foremothers' extraordinary reputations and celebrated accomplishments. They acknowledge the significance of matrilineal descent. In this regard, the need for little girls is acknowledged and the significance of female fecundity and nurture honoured, as a male elder explains, Everybody belongs in their [sic] mother's side. If there are lots of girls, that's g o o d . When we don't have girls, we are gonna die out, and then that's the end of the clan. You have to know who your mother is. That's why we want little girls.... Sure, we want boys too, a son to become a hunter, but little girls, that's who will carry on our name. Socialization towards motherhood begins early. By the age of three or four, girls are encouraged to "take care of baby." By the age of eight or nine, they are expected as a matter of routine to shoulder this responsibility. Girls of this age s p e n d long periods of time with infants. They take great pleasure in indulging the little ones, fondling them and amusing them with innovative games and songs . Girls who are willing to tend children and who are capable of providing 1 The clan/potlatch system will be described in chapter 7. The term "double header" refers to a person, usually of high status, who retains membership in both her/his mother's and father's clans. 150 competent care are viewed favourably. Adults of both sexes are quick to praise them. "That Corey, she sure minds them well. She's going to be a real g o o d mother." Not only are girls well paid for babysitting, they also receive special favours and privileges rewarding their efforts. The girls are justifiably proud. They can, however, become very scornful of peers who do not share either their personal qualities or ambitions. Tracey, she's real dumb. She can't even take care of [the baby]. She doesn't know nothing. I had to show her everything. Rebecca isn't crooked with me ... when Tracey looked after the baby, she had to take her to Grandma. She didn't even know what to do... . In a similar fashion, girls are encouraged to care for the elderly and ill. Adolescent girls are encouraged to offer housekeeping and personal services to eiders who live alone. Those who agree to do so earn prestige in the adult community and are praised publicly for their altruistic behaviour. W o m e n are also particularly important in the transmission of cultural knowledge. To say "a little girl is not for nothing" is also to imply her future as an elder to generations yet unborn. It is to anticipate future elders continuing to trace cultural knowledge to their ancestors. In adolescence, girls (and boys) take on some of these responsibilities. They perform traditional dances with younger children, they join their elders in singing and drumming Indian songs , and they are encouraged to learn Indian arts and crafts. From grandmothers, grand-daughters learn to tan m o o s e hides and to make skin clothing and moccasins. 151 Nora , 2 for example, spent hours with her grandmother, Isabelle, trying to clean and tan a m o o s e skin. Although she had made no specific plans for marriage, she had dreams of a beaded Indian wedding dress. Beth, on the other hand, wanted her mother-in-law to teach her to make birch bark baskets. At the same time, other girls, and a very few boys, were learning beading and sewing. These teenagers then taught younger children the same skills. During early childhood and preadolescence, girls spend a great deal of time with extended family members. Many grow up in three generation households, others may live for varying periods with their mothers' or fathers' female kin. Grandmothers and aunts (either MZ or FZ) are called upon to discipline young girls or to intervene when they face difficult situations with their parents or siblings. By the time the girls enter school , they have developed a sense of belonging to the extended family. Through childhood and into adolescence, their closest friendships are with their sisters and first cousins (MZD). At the same time that girls are encouraged towards nurturing roles, they, no less than boys, are soon expected to be self-reliant and independent. Mothers and older siblings are reluctant to intervene in children's quarrels or to take action against bullying from older children. Girls learn early the value of developing a "tough" demeanour; to a large measure their status among peers depends upon their ability 2 Pseudonyms are used here, and throughout the remaining text, for the reader's easier understanding of the personal relationships of the women described. The names appear on kinship charts in Chapter 6. S e e page 137ff. 152 to protect themselves against other children. Adults and peers alike expect girls to fend for themselves ("fighting back" when necessary) and not to allow others to take advantage of them. Self-assertiveness, however, is not to be confused with such antisocial behaviour as bullying. The strong emphasis on nurture does not encourage girls to esteem stereotypes of femininity offered by the dominant society. Atypical passive behaviour or feminine clothing (for example, skirts and dresses) are contemptuously dismissed as "dainty." Not until late adolescence, and then only rarely, do girls wear fancy clothing. Their female identity is expressed in a variety of other ways: fashionable hairstyles, makeup, and a wardrobe of stylish blue jeans, shirts and sweaters. The annual "Indian Princess" pageant is one of the rare occasions that emphasizes the dominant society's feminine symbols. Adolescent girls are selected for this honour by criteria c o m m o n to North American beauty pageants: attractiveness, poise, feminine dress (the girls show themselves in "evening" and "traditional" dresses), and speech-making. In 1984, the contestants had been asked to address issues on self-government; they responded with prepared statements focusing on their educational and professional aspirations, all of which would provide social services to their reserves: teaching, nursing, social work, etc. While these services conform to dominant society's gender division of labour, the girl's views of themselves or their chosen professions are not consonant with the perception of subordination or feminine passivity. Rather, they envision undertaking assertive leadership in the struggles for self-determination. 153, ii) Motherhood Given the social .emphasis on nurture and the satisfaction girls and women * derive from it, it is not surprising to find that adolescent girls eagerly anticipate motherhood. In fact, early motherhood is c o m m o n . T h o s e who c h o o s e motherhood d o not necessarily relinquish other goals. A typical attitude a m o n g young mothers is: Just because I have a baby doesn't stop me from getting grade twelve. I said I was going to be a child care worker, and that's what I'm going to do. For some, motherhood is an alternative to school or to work outside the home. One young woman, Beth, left school at the first opportunity, and s o o n married her steady boy friend. For her, marriage and child rearing became her chosen occupation. "I didn't like school much and was. never g o o d at it. I quit at sixteen, looked after grandmother, and now I'm glad to be pregnant." In Beth's eyes, schooling is unnecessary; she does not feel it will help her to become a mother or a future leader of her clan. Her mother-in-law, Lillian, who has several professional daughters'and grand-daughters, is not disturbed by Beth's lack of education. For her, a daughter-in-law who has shown maturity and concern for others is a "good thing." She 's just what my son needs. He's going to obey her, and she's going to be the authority in that family. Already, she's looking after him. She's a g o o d young woman and she'll be strong. [He] can always look up to her. This young woman exemplifies the characteristics idealized in the phrase "a 154 little girl is not for nothing." She has matured early and proven herself as a g o o d wife and mother and as a person upon whom elders can depend . With the birth of her own infant daughter, she is seen as a strong link to the future of Saik'uz. Because she has followed her maternal grandfather (a former clan chief) in his clan, and because she "sits in his seat," she provides an essential symbolic link to the past. An elderly woman of her clan explains, When we see her sitting with us we remember her grandfather. "If she's smart, she'll train her little girl to follow him too. That way, he won't be forgotten. In the old way, they would take a Carrier name and be skezah... . You see it all goes through the mother, and her grandfather, he had her come to his side [his clan] so he would be remembered by her. 3 Beth is also respected for her interest in the traditions of women's work, particularly in fishing and gathering. Beth's participation in subsistence labour enhances her prestige in the eyes of older women. Following is a description of Beth's activities during one summer (as recorded in my field notes). Beth was five months pregnant in June. Nevertheless, she was eager to plant a garden with her mother-in-law. During the summer she entreated her husband to hunt, and when any meat came to her mother or her mother-in-law, she worked beside them, cutting, freezing, and canning the meat. She helped to dry fresh fish and to pick and can berries. Long before the first salmon run, she was discussing the need for nets and a boat, since her mother owned neither. When her mother-in-law began netting salmon she regularly went to help process and store it. From her mother-in-law she received a share of fresh and canned salmon. This she took to her mother who in turn distributed it to close relatives, the first 3 The transfer of a child to another clan permits a man to select either his own child or a daughter's child as a successor . 155 being her own aged mother, and then to needy elders. A s soon as the berries were ripe, she was anxious to pick them. Sunny afternoons when her mother was not working at the [band] office, were spent gathering strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons, and blueberries. While she picked, Beth contemplated her future as a mother, and liked to spend a great deal of time talking about pregnancy and childbirth in the old days when her grandmother was born. Late in the salmon season, her mother had the opportunity to borrow nets which she set with me. When we returned with our catch early in the morning, Beth was ready at her mother's house. Under her mother's direction, she distributed fresh fish ... and then set to work cleaning and freezing the remainder. All the fish were stored in her mother's freezer, including several set aside for my use. Beth had begun work at 8:00 a.m. and did not finish until late afternoon. Lillian commented on Beth's work: That one, she works real good . She's skezah. and she lives up to it. Everyone knows she takes g o o d care of her grandmother. She'll be a g o o d mother, not lazy or running around. A great aunt (MMBW) had this to offer: Beth works hard, like her mother and grandfather. She takes the fish around for her grandmother and mother. She 's going to be a g o o d woman. She's learning the Indian way of feeding her family. The respect that the Saik'uz Whut'enne hold for mothering forms the basis of women's domestic authority, authority built on their perceptions of women's responsibility for social harmony. The women of each family-the mothers, aunts, and grandmothers-are regarded as the collective voice of family authority. Public acknowledgement of women's domestic authority reveals an important aspect of 156 gender relations. Ideally, women are assertive, capable, and independent individuals, willing to intervene in the lives of male kindred. Women do not hesitate to take action against unseemly behaviour. Mothers scold adult sons and daughters for social transgressions, sexual misconduct, and misdemeanours construed as neglect of family and/or community. Women and men alike attribute family troubles to lack of female authority and strength. A middle-aged woman, for example, described her brother's family as one without authority. According to her, because her sister-in-law did not "take charge," this family's tensions had erupted in violence. "She just let everybody run wild." Because her adolescent niece had been injured, this women felt it was her responsibility and right to intervene. A s she explains, Aunties are expected to act. We discipline our brother's kids. When I was growing up, my aunt was the one to discipline us. My mother could spoil us, but an aunt is different. When her efforts proved unsuccessful, she and one of her brothers turned to their mother. He recalls, I went right to my mother, and asked her why she let that get out of hand. I told her, and she did something about it the next day.... She should have done something before it got really bad . Clearly, a family is shamed and loses face when women are unable to control intrafamily tensions. Ineffective women are the subject of public comment and general pity. In this incident, both the daughter-in-law and her mother were held responsible. The mother-in-law's attitude demonstrates this. 157 I pity her. Her mother was never strong. She didn't stand up to her husband, and she had no authority in that family. Now they are all in a bad way.... I pity them. My other son 's wife, she was an orphan young and she didn't have a grandmother to teach her either. I guess she's going to have trouble always. Her family-there's trouble too because my son doesn't listen to her. My husband, he defers to me. Men and women accept the interventions of older, authoritative women. Seldom are mothers or aunts criticized for such intervention; it is rare, in fact, to hear any mother criticized for assertive behaviour. Married men acknowledge that when their own mothers do not reprimand them they are likely to face the ire of their mothers-in-law. One such incident happened in the middle of the salmon run. A middle a g e d man had spent a week of hard work helping his wife and her mother process the salmon, in itself a rare role for a middle-aged man. He then "went on a toot," partying all weekend. His mother-in-law admitted, I sure got after him, running into the bars and acting up. But still, he should have some fun; he worked hard all week.... He sheepishly allowed, "I knew I was in for it." When they marry, men accept the assertive roles taken by women. It is assumed that the men will not "take over" for a weak wife. A married elder, explained, Sure, I gotta admit she's the boss . She 's been boss right along. I don't say much about it, but I get crooked, party all week. Then her, she takes care of everything.... I guess everyone knows that's how it is. Just as some men rely on female kin for creating men's jobs and for personal assistance, others recognize their own personal options are limited when their female 158 kin fail to provide them with such supporting roles. A former chief, now divorced and with a reputation as a "honky tonk man," commented, I'm nothing without a g o o d woman. I can't keep a g o o d woman ... I can't be chief anymore. While some men agree that mothers or aunts should exercise domestic authority, they also maintain that no family should be without male leadership as well. Bob, a middle-aged man, one of the few Carrier with university education and with considerable experience in tribal and reserve leadership, expressed his apprehension: When the women get too strong in the family it can make pillows of the men. I was raised by my grandmother and aunts without any men about. Sometimes I think I could have been homosexual. Men can get too soft in a situation like that. Although Bob was raised in Nadleh, he said, "Here it is no different. We respect the elder women, but we need g o o d men to lead us too." Despite these reservations, he, too, turns to older women to mediate disputes and to guide troubled families. Referring to a female relation of his mother's, he said, "Auntie keeps that family going, not like V , her family are all lost." Obviously, the community has high expectations of women. When families live and prosper in harmony, the mother is praised; when the opposite occurs, she is pitied. This creates continual stress for older women. In reality, they have little direct control over the adult members of their extended families. Nevertheless, a reputation as an authoritative, concerned mother automatically c o m m a n d s high esteem. A s we shall see, mothers who wield domestic authority fairly and competently are honoured and viewed as likely community leaders. 159 Mothers' responsibilities are not confined to the nurture of young children nor to the maintenance of a well-run home. A s women mature and their children reach adulthood, mothers' responsibilities expand to include the well-being of sons-and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. In order to meet the needs of their adult children and maturing grandchildren, women seek state funds for youth employment and microeconomic projects, such as cultural and recreational centres, community service centres, etc. Men, too, stress the value they place on mothers. "You love your mother so much," explained one male elder, "because she gave you her milk and took the pain." A younger man put it this way. "Your mother is the one you can never lie to. Maybe you can hold something back from your father, but you can't from your mother. She 's the one you tell everything to." This special regard for mothers stems from the fact that younger women and men look to older women for support and advice. Like the old women of Saik'uz stor ies-grandmothers who raised orphans, or O ld Woman who aided the cultural heroes- today 's older women guide the younger generations. Young mothers rely on their own mothers for assistance in child rearing, while sons seek their mother's advice on personal issues, on obtaining funds for economic development projects, or on resolving tensions in personal relationships. A s one man explains, I don't have a head for all that number business. My sister [Elaine] and my mother do that; they're both trying to get money out of the department, so they can handle this too ... that's women's business; isn't that why you're doing this for me ? My sister and I were in business, and she took care of 160 the books.. . . If I need anything, I go to her. The speaker's elder brother also relied on his mother, Isabelle A d a m s , and his sister, Elaine, for financial help. These two women had just secured state funding for a community building project and the brothers were waiting for the resulting work. I guess I'll be working on that log house all summer. If my sister gets us that money, I'll be working again.... It's been tough. She's [speaker's wife] been working and that's no g o o d for us, me without a job. There's a lot of trouble between us. My mother, she doesn't like this. I don't know why I'm telling you [white] woman this. You don't understand ... my mother is the one I turned to. She gets me this work, I guess to straighten me out ... I'm pretty crooked ... she's the one I tell about this. The comments illustrate the importance men place on the public activities of their female kin. The phrase, "a little girl is not for nothing," embodies women's perceptions of their family roles and conveys ideas of their responsibility for community harmony. Saik'uz women impose no arbitrary distinctions between household and public responsibilities. Rather, they see the latter as the logical and necessary extension of the former: in order to perform wisely as a mother and wife, one must be able and willing to work for the benefit of the entire community. In their eyes, the best community members are those who care well for their families. Consider an elder's rhetorical question: "How can you raise healthy kids if the community is in trouble? Women get involved for their families." U n l e s s there is a W o m a n 161 While the Saik'uz elders anticipate an important role for a young mother and wife who lacks formal education, they do not discount girls' needs for schooling or for leadership opportunities. Quite the opposite. They struggle to achieve a harmonious balance between motherhood and the broader nurture and guidance of the community via social commitment and political leadership. Saik'uz women say that in a true matrilineal culture it is not just that "we come from our mothers," but that "we have clan mothers and community mothers who teach us and look after our people." Carrier leaders, therefore, desire the development of personal characteristics that will lead to future female leadership. Elders and administrators recognize the necessity of professional and technical personnel essential to effective community government. Professional careers and management responsibilities are seen, in general, as roles that augment child rearing. Accord ing to Lillian, The girls need every bit of education, just like the boys. My girls worked hard for their education. How else are they going to look after their people? They have to learn to speak up when the people suffer. That's what their education is for; to make leaders of them. If I had been to school and university, there was nothing that could have stopped me. We need our young women to become nurses and teachers. We need them to take over in the future and show the young generation how to survive. Listening to her mother say this, Lillian's youngest daughter a d d e d , Carrier women have always spoken up. I'm going to college to get my teaching certificate and then maybe law. I don't know. Business administration; we need that too. I don't see any young men ready for college. It doesn't matter so much, 162 as long as some of us get our university and come back to the [administration] office and run for councils Elders and administrators do all they can to encourage young women to remain in school and to enter post-secondary institutions. Academic s u c c e s s is honoured. Financial and personal assistance is provided. Through their voluntary associations, women acquire funds for temporary student employment. Young women are offered jobs that will help develop leadership skills. They are hired to work in the administration office, to direct recreational programs, and to organize drug and alcohol abuse workshops and cultural awareness programs. Elders and administrators also encourage young women to join service clubs for native students. Student voluntary associations have a dual mandate: to further Indian students' social and academic endeavors, and to provide a focal point for their cultural and social concerns. As executive members, girls are brought into a milieu of negotiation with school administrators and teachers. Thus they b e c o m e recognized as assertive individuals. A senior education administrator explained the pre-eminence of the girls and the rewards they received, I guess the girls take over here. In that way they are just like the women on the reserve. The education committee is women, and maybe that's where the girls learn. We try to give them opportunities to organize for themselves and to help one another to stay in school . It is very important for them to have support from each other. We also want them to be involved in the school . This year their president will get an award for her involvement. The club's president was one of three band members to graduate that year. Her grandmother, a member of the council's advisory education committee and other 163 reserve organizations, had this to say of her grand-daughter's (DD) achievement: The other kids respect her. They look up to her for what she is doing. She's trying to get a library for them out here, and she's talking about raising money for it. She works hard as president for that action group and she has lots to show for herself. She's not afraid to speak up for them. Elders provide guidance and emotional support to the administrative staff. Female elders expect the band administration to be modelled on traditional concepts of obligation and responsibility; therefore they assume that women who occupy administrative positions will extend themselves to general issues of c o m m o n concern. For example, Derilyn, the band council's college educated welfare officer, undertakes a myriad of social responsibilities that include, amongst others, executive ' membership on the Carrier Sekani Tribal Counci l , managing the men's baseball team's finances, and organizing activities for children. With her college certificate she has considerably more education than the majority. Therefore, more is expected of her than of most young women, as one woman explained, She 's got the Tigers' [men's baseball team] business in control now. They couldn't manage nothing. There, too, there has to be a woman ... unless there is a woman, they just run wild with that money ... go haywire at the tournaments. That's no g o o d . She's smart that one. She gets right in there for them kids too. That's why she keeps that job. She doesn't just stop up at her desk.... She's what we need here; she'll be a g o o d woman for the reserve. If she weren't from that other place she could get on council too. Derilyn is constrained but not isolated by the fact she is not a band member. Elected leaders and elders regret the structural limits, and treat the situation as if 164 these did not exist: This year we'll try to put her on the tribal counci l . . . she'll speak up for Saik'uz.... She'll stick by the women for us. We need someone like her speaking up for us; the big bands are just for themselves and we need her. They promote Derilyn's opportunities to participate in the tribal council, in voluntary associations, and in provincial workshops. Other members of the administration staff are treated in the same manner. Elders who are on the council 's advisory committees have a working knowledge of the staff and carefully establish personal relations with them. In summary, women are convinced that "unless there is a woman" involved in every aspect of community life the community will falter. This perception of women's social responsibility and capability underlies the elders' expectations for young women and explains the emergence of women within the core of Saik'uz leadership. W o m e n who are successful become known in their own reserve and outside as "good" and "strong" women and are recognized by natives and nonnatives for their able leadership. G o o d and St rong W o m e n The concepts "good" and "strong" distinguish middle-aged and elderly women from all others. The latter term is used almost exclusively in reference to elders. Strong women are noted for their industry, loyalty, generosity, thrift, circumspection, and sobriety. A s a result, they have established sound reputations in both native and nonnative communities. They are respected for past and present accomplishments, 165 for their reliable performances as wage labourers, and for their business acumen in sales management, in the administration of small ranches, and in successful management of state funds. In the face of physical pain, they remain strong and stoic. In times of personal crises, strong women are acclaimed for their equanimity. It is understood, however, that self-control does not indicate resignation or fatalism. Rather, strong women are people who "make things happen"; they "speak up [and] take charge." In particular, strong women take command of family and community crises. Most important, strong women are loyal to their families and consistent in their adherence to a strict moral c o d e of sexual fidelity. A woman who voluntarily leaves her marriage or whose partner has ended the union is not described as strong. The term "good" is used most frequently in reference to middle-aged women. Like their elders, g o o d women assume the responsibilities of heading their families and are active in the community. They are active in traditional forms of subsistence labour; they are keen to know and to transmit their cultural heritage; and they are consistent in their commitment to community needs. They also act as community spokeswomen and mediate cross-cultural affairs. In other words, to be a g o o d woman is to demonstrate some of the same abilities characteristic of strong women and to b e c o m e known for personal courage and sincerity. i) T h e G o o d W o m e n In today's community, prominent middle-aged women have established themselves by taking on a variety of community roles compatible with traditional 166 views of nurture: the provision of personal services, health care, and education. Unlike the pre-eminent elders, these middle-aged women are not all mothers/grandmothers of large families. In this group, mothers of large families are under-represented. Two of the most eminent are adoptive mothers. A third has not assumed a maternal role. These three women occupy important public positions. Two are band administrators, the other is central to her clan. In the hierarchy of the band administration, the community health representative (who is also an elected councillor) and the band manager are the most prominent. Anne Baptiste was the only member of her generation to enter secondary school . Inspired by her mother's success in using traditional medicines, and encouraged by her own success in science studies, Anne chose a career in nursing. Following graduation from secondary school , she worked as an orderly and janitor at the local hospital to raise money for her nursing studies. After working in a number of towns and cities, she returned to her reserve and married. With changes in her domestic life, Anne's responsibilities expanded. The man she married had been married previously and was a grandfather to two infant grand-daughters. The infants' mother could not care for them, and, when her husband died, Anne accepted guardianship of the two girls. In her capacity as a nurse, Anne cared for the ill and the homebound elders, and was drawn into caring for sick infants. She was said to be "almost like a mother." Moreover, her regular salary enabled her to provide for others in her own family. With the rising unemployment of the 1970s, her contributions became 167 increasingly important. Like her mother, Lillian, Anne invests considerable energy in women's traditional subsistence activities. She also has followed her mother into the Native Mothers' Guild, a community service organization. In short, like her mother, Anne is viewed as a women who provides for her people. Eventually, Anne left her nursing position to become the band's Community Health Representative, a position she held for fifteen years. As health representative, she had daily interaction with all reserve members and administered a wide range of services. She came to understand intimately each family's needs and was able to provide personal services others could not. By taking a leading role in the band council's advisory committees, Anne has become a key figure in the band administration. In her position, she is privy to decisions affecting the most personal aspects of family life: the placement of foster children, the allocation of emergency and permanent housing, and the provision of special assistance for the elderly and the disabled. She conducts workshops on urgent community needs: alcohol and drug abuse, child abuse, prenatal care, and communicable diseases. Her responsibilities are not circumscribed by a specific job description, nor by predetermined work hours. The people she serves take a traditional view of her role. In their eyes, Anne's first obligation is to her family, her second is to her "whole outfit," her third is to "her people." Within this frame of reference, she extends herself to meet the personal and financial needs of unemployed family members and of other kin. She is called upon at any time, day or night, to administer health care, to lend 168 her telephone, and to act as personal confidante and mediator in times of family stress and conflict. Because of her position, it is not surprising that she is seen as a leader and a role model for girls. She has organized an association for young girls. These girls meet weekly to learn about health and hygiene, traditional female roles, Carrier crafts and arts, and traditional foods and medicines. Like all service workers on the reserve, Anne also competes for the federal government funds that provide student summer employment and short term community services. As an employer, Anne is a patron of young girls eager to accumulate working experience and to advance their employment opportunities. Anne 's life illustrates the continuity between familial and community obligations. Not surprisingly, Anne 's community service is linked ciosely to the community's political agenda . Since she was first elected in 1974, Anne has served three two-year terms on the band council. In selecting a political career she followed her mother, a former chief and long time councillor. All her other roles support Anne 's candidacy as councillor. She sees to everybody in her job. And she's into other things too, with that group for girls and everything. I guess that's what makes her g o o d on the council; she knows what the job is all about. She worked really hard with them kids of hers. Those kids, they sure can be crooked but she tries hard for them. It shows what a person can do. That's why people go out for her, because she knows the families and because she's smart. Education, that's what we need in the people we elect. 169 These comments, made by men, reveal the way community service is linked to family care and leadership. In the words of an older women, "People who work hard are somebody: . . . That's why everybody votes for her. The men too." A s a middle-aged leader within the community, Anne is not alone. The band manager, Elaine, is the same age. Elaine's route into reserve politics differs from Anne's , but the reserve population perceives it in much the same manner. Unlike Anne, Elaine was absent from the reserve for much of her life. During her adolescence, she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a sanatorium. While away from home, she married a status Indian from a west coast band , thus losing her membership in the Saik'uz band. For several years, she worked at a variety of jobs along the west coast, and after her marriage ended , she entered an enduring relationship with a white man. For a while, Elaine was involved in the women's movement, the only Saik'uz women to become involved in feminism. That's where I learned to go ahead and be outspoken. I learned to be involved when I was part of the women's movement. Now I get called down for it. People say I act high toned and boss them. The women's thing was g o o d for me; it gave me confidence to speak up for myself. I don't give in to everybody any more. Some years later, in her forties, she returned home. O n c e home, she completed a high school equivalency program at the local college. I came back here because Mom needed me to help her with her business. I helped her out and then I worked as a home-school coordinator. A s a home-school coordinator, Elaine was required to mediate community and school misunderstandings and tensions and to intervene in students' home lives. In 1980, she was hired as band manager. Elaine explains her work as looking after the people. "As band manager she is a "big stick" (that is, a traditional leader) of the village. Elaine follows a job routine that is inconsistent with the dominant culture's perception of community administration. Neither is her job wholly consistent with the Saik'uz view of how a leader ought to serve the community. Her position, like the community health representative's, is a blend of administration and leadership. A s band manager, Elaine is directly responsible to the band council and to DIAND. She must balance the expectations of these two, which often creates conflicts. In order to retain her position, she must demonstrate administrative skills consistent with those expected of a civil servant. At the same time, she must not be perceived to be directed by the DIAND. Like Anne, Elaine finds that her job extends far beyond scheduled office hours. She is expected to attend meetings of the Carrier Sekani Tribal council, to participate in professional development workshops, and to attend workshops and conferences hosted by native organizations and federal government agencies. Additionally, she regularly attends cultural events hosted by other Carrier bands. She, too, must balance her obligations to family, extended kin, and community. Because she is responsible for hiring administrative staff, as well as seasonal and part-time workers, Elaine faces greater tensions and criticism than does Anne, 171 even though Anne 's dual roles as an elected councillor and the council 's employee carry the constant potential for conflict. The band manager is vulnerable to allegations of nepotism. She may be accused of "letting her side down" if she hires or promotes members of other families and kin groups. Similarly, by helping her kin to obtain state funds for community projects, she may be c o n d e m n e d for advancing the interests of her kin above others. Elaine has the means to extend her patronage to a large number of individuals by offering them jobs, by doing them favours, and by advancing the interests of their voluntary associations. This is a critical point: Elaine's mother is the central executive figure of two voluntary associations, and an appointed delegate on a regional board funded directly by the DIAND. Her supporters define her strengths and s u c c e s s in terms of female abilities and attitudes. By following the example of her mother and by caring for everybody as if they were of her own family, she, too, learned to look after people. Her mother rationalizes her daughter's position as one best suited to a woman: She got that job because she had lots of experience working. She knew what the people needed and she would fight for that. But she works too hard at it, she never stops when she's asked for something. It's because she's a woman, I guess; she tries really hard for everybody.... We've never really had a man in that job; it seems that women are better for it. It's the women around here that make things happen and look after the people. W o m e n often feel they are the ones to look after the community. Describing their band as "really just one family," they say that women quickly c o m e to know the personal needs of band members and their families. It is not surprising, therefore, 172 to find that jobs of special cultural and political significance are frequently held by women. It is true that female administrators do the hiring for these jobs, and it may be that under the influence of a different band council, which must ratify the band manager's selections, the situation could change. More critical, however, is the women's perception that because they show the greatest social concern , they are the most capable public figures. This rationale helps to explain the important public role that a third woman plays. Alice is the same age as Elaine. A single mother (she is separated from her husband) with one adopted daughter, Alice often had several other children to raise. When her sisters were unable to care for their children, Alice took charge. A s the eldest daughter of a former village chief and a niece of a clan leader, Alice is strongly interested in Saik'uz history and culture. She speaks her language better than most of her generation and studied linguistics in order to teach others to read and write Carrier. Although Alice has not held office in central political institutions, she does hold important peripheral roles. For several years, she has been the deputy polling clerk for band elections and has taken an active role at nomination meetings for council elections. She is deeply committed to her clan. Alice is a key figure in decision-making, a frequent worker at funerals, and a regular participant at the potlatch. It is clear, however, that it is her own character that makes her the perfect choice for this prestigious role. None of her siblings has been honoured in this fashion. In fact, her brother has never been viewed as a suitable candidate for his father's positions of 173 chief and clan leader. Alice recognizes her family's important position and recalls how, even as a child, she was the one "to follow Dad around." She always made a conscious effort to profit from his knowledge. He was highly esteemed in native and nonnative communities alike, and she actively seeks similar respect for herself. Although Alice suffered from tuberculosis and could never complete formal schooling, she has always had a strong interest in education. She has taken upgrading courses, a range of training programs, and has a certificate for teaching the Carrier language. She has used her linguistic skills to help the community record its history and mythology. A few years before her father passed away, she tape-recorded his version of Carrier history. Today, she continues to learn from the elders and to record their life stories and historical narratives. When she was a young woman, Alice worked across the country at various jobs requiring physical, semiskilled labour. Today, arthritis restricts her opportunities. Yet her band administration and tribal council still see her as an ideal employee. As opportunities arise, Alice works on research projects sponsored by the band and tribal councils. She also acts as an interpreter for outside researchers, helping them to prepare genealogical charts and to conduct archival research. The knowledge she gained from her research activities has increased her interest in, and capacity for, political involvement. When resource a c c e s s was threatened by new policies of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans , the administrative staff appointed her to represent band interests. During 1984, she 174 represented the band at the Pacific Aboriginal Commission (an organization of both British Columbian and American native groups), and at regional meetings of a number of provincial fishing commissions. S u c h involvement has enhanced her status in the community. Elders comment favourably on her work and express optimism with regard to her future: Alice is becoming a real g o o d woman. She learned a lot from her father, and she should keep it up [learning from the elders].... She can help us out a lot on the land claims and the family trees, because she learned it when she was young. If she works hard, she can be a council member, too. It's g o o d to have women like her on the council. The council should be the ones who worked hard and made something of themselves and their kids. In the elders' eyes, Alice is a woman who will prove to be leader of the younger generations. She, like Anne and Elaine, will provide a role model to others: The kids today don't have nobody to watch and to learn from. You have to learn by watching others doing it; none of this talk, talk, talk, all the time. Alice, she learned from her father in them days. She always followed him about. If she keeps going like this, then maybe these haywire girls will take after her. That's what we need; someone the girls can take after. Alice's story, while corresponding very little to the dominant society's ideals of leadership, has a pattern that is consistent with that of the prominent female elders with whom she routinely associates as she works for the band and tribal councils. ii) The Strong Women Today, the five elders who are particularly active in community affairs are the ones most likely to be called strong women. They have raised large families, reared grandchildren and/or great grandchildren, and have long histories of wage labour. 175 All have demonstrated their competence in traditional subsistence tasks. A s young women they trapped, fished and hunted, earning reputations for being as able as men in the bush. Whether married or widowed, each is recognized as the head of her family. Isabelle A d a m s and Lillian Baptist (both of whom are married) are the female elders most active in Saik'uz. Their lives have followed similar courses: residential education, early, involuntary marriage, and young motherhood. From early adulthood, they balanced their need for wage labour and educational upgrading- lsabel le worked in the local hospital, Lillian as a custodian for the reserve day school-with active involvement in community affairs. In the 1940s, they both joined the Native Mothers' Guild and have remained active in voluntary associations. A s soon as the Indian Act permitted female councillors, they ran for office. At the same time, of course, both women were also caring for their large families, which included the care of orphaned children, elderly kin, the ill, and grandchildren. Today, they represent their band and tribal councils in court cases, on fishing commissions, and as mediators with local authority structures. A s stated previously, mothers are the voices of family authority. Their intervention in family troubles is not, however, restricted to immediate kin. They are expected to bring influence to bear on other troubled households, particularly when a woman has no immediate kin to provide such aid. When personal tensions result in wife beating for example, Isabelle and Lillian attempt to mediate. When an injured wife's own mother cannot act, or if the wife is from outside the band, Isabelle, her 176 sister-in-law Frances, or Lillian steps in. Their actions, far from being deemed unwarranted interference, are actively desired. In fact, when respected elders d o not intervene, they are subject to public criticism. In the summer of 1985, two young wives were injured by their husbands, and public anger was high. It s e e m e d everyone involved was found at fault: the husbands for drinking, their wives for not "taking charge," and the female elders closely associated with the husbands for not intervening. Isabelle and Lillian were expected to act: ... who else is going to speak up? Linda, she don't have anyone else here and Isabelle should make that nephew of hers behave. He wouldn't have pushed a woman around when his mother was alive. A n d Stacey, her mother won't do nothing. A n d Edgar, he beat up his first wife too. Someone should tell them to do something before Stacey, she really gets hurt. A s they matured and gained stature in the community, Isabelle and Lillian became prominent in their respective clans. The perceived compatibility between female clan leadership and women's general responsibilities hinge on women's particular responsibilities for social harmony. Respect for female clan leaders is linked to their ability to control emotional outbursts of kin and to mediate domestic disputes. Women explain that traditionally, the potlatch system was their "government." In the past, clan leadership reconciled disputes and personal differences between families and clans. Thus, clan leadership is said to be consistent with women's responsibility for emotional and social management; to stand as clan leaders, women must first manage their households 177 and extended families. The clan used to be into everything, to look after everybody's business. A clan leader is respected if he [sic] looks after our people. But now it's harder. Young people don't have the same respect for the clans. S o we do our business some new ways. The Elders are into everything now; they try to help out. I'm president of the Elders and head of my clan. It's special to be clan leader. . . not everybody can d o it. They've got to know what you can do. You've got to get respect for what you d o on the reserve. Women 's responsibilities in public office are defined in the same terms of traditional obligations. As women and mothers they are expected to focus on the immediate needs of their people. When she became band chief, Lillian felt her first duty to her people was to provide for their social and health needs in exactly the same way as she provided for her family and clan: It's all the same thing. I was looking after my people. I did the same job. My people were suffering, and I went into being chief to help them out. It goes back to the family. You have to look after every family, or it's no g o o d . There wasn't anything for the young people. What could they do? The dance hall I put up so the young people could have some recreation. There's no recreation for kids here. That's why they get into trouble.... Membership in The Native Mothers' Guild, and more specifically, in its leadership, coupled with skills obtained through adult education programs, provided the necessary experience for Isabelle and Lillian to enter into a range of similarly-organized associations. Isabelle is an executive member of the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP), a national native organization working under the auspices of federal state agencies. As an influential member of this 178 association, she is able to direct funds for social and cultural events to her reserve. Employment and recreation programs for youth are given priority. A s an active member in N N A D A P , she attends regional and provincial conferences. Isabelle also sits on the executive of an environmental group formed to o p p o s e the Alcan Aluminum Company 's development proposal. In this position, she faces the contradictions of sharing common concerns for natural resources with members of the white community, while at the same time bringing to focus conflicts between her people and the environmentalists, who do not necessarily support aboriginal rights or the principles of land claims. It is critical, therefore, that representatives to interracial associations be people of credible political expertise, adept at manoeuvring through the entanglements of divided interest groups who come together on a single issue. It is clear that Isabelle is aware of the nebulous nature of her position. I have to let them know where we stand. It's the women's fishing we are talking about. If they build that dam our fishing will end. Louise [ a white woman on the committee] talks about controlling the river [i.e after a dam is constructed]. She 's not speaking for our fishing. Our fishing camps will all be gone. The Native Mothers' Guild has held workshops and meetings with local fish and game clubs hoping to inform sportsmen of their position and to find c o m m o n strategies for intervention. Lillian has been a central figure in the Native Mothers' Guild for more than two decades. Additionally, she is respected widely for her "gift" as a speaker. She, too, travels from Saik'uz to represent the band and tribal councils at numerous conferences, workshops, and confrontational meetings with state 179 agencies. Lillian has been prominent at meetings with the British Columbian provincial ministry of wildlife, protesting further restrictions imposed upon native net fishing, and with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans , struggling against industrial development and habitat destruction and threatened restrictions on salmon catches. She participates in a range of native organizations and fishing commissions that represent native interests from Alaska to California and throughout provincial interior. She has been called as a witness at court trials in central and southern British Columbia, where she has explained and defended the practice of subsistence salmon fishing. A s traditional women and as modern leaders, Isabelle and Lillian have proven their abilities. In both capacities, they attract the attention and earn the praise of the local white community. One year, the local Rotary Club honoured Isabelle as its citizen of the year. Lillian has been featured in newspapers and books for her t political acumen, social dedication and traditional artistic talents. Although these two women have achieved greater honour and prestige than their peers, three other women are also recognized for strength and personal achievement. Frances, Isabelle's sister-in-law, is a clan leader, head of a large household of children and foster children, and a long-standing executive member of voluntary associations. Unlike Isabelle or Lillian, she has never held public office. She has, however, sat on advisory committees to the band council, and is the delegated elder on the executive of the Tribal Council . 180 Her life has unfolded in a c o m m o n pattern. Orphaned, she attended residential school . In late adolescence she entered an arranged marriage with a widower who had a family of his own. Together, they soon had more children. Frances, like her peers, provided for her family through subsistence labour, earning the reputation of "hunting like a man." She has held a range of jobs. She , too, is well known for her craft work and community contributions. Now widowed, she supports herself by rearing foster children and by selling crafts. Hannah, a close friend to Isabelle, does not have the advantages of high status or of a large family. S o m e thirty years ago her husband, who is now deceased , voluntarily enfranchised himself, and Hannah lost her Indian status. Since then, her position on the reserve has been precarious and marginal. In accordance with the wishes of the band council she lives in her deceased brother's house. In several respects, Hannah is protected by Isabelle's influence. Isabelle and her daughters seek out Hannah's friendship and political support. A s detailed in the next chapter, Hannah's importance to the A d a m s e s depends on her connections to the white community and her position in voluntary associations. At 79, Hannah is the image of the caring old woman, the traditional grandmother. Although she does not wield influence independently, she is well respected and her support is seen as an important asset. The last of the five strong women is Lillian's sister-in-law, Marion. Widowed, Marion is not a leader in the sense that Frances, Lillian and Isabelle are, but she is a long standing-member of the Native Mothers. She, too, has reared a large family 181 and has recently assumed responsibility for her daughters' children. Descended from a high status family, she married the son of a dunezah who was elected chief. Marion makes no direct claims to leadership. She has never been a councillor, nor is she seen as a leader of voluntary associations. Rather, she is esteemed for her consistent hard work for the church, for voluntary associations, and for her community. She is respected for her intelligence, her traditional knowledge, and her overall competence. Like Hannah, by virtue of her reputation as a woman of strength and commitment, Marion adds credibility and social prestige to her extended kin groups and to the Native Mothers' Guild. Summary and Conclusions Carrier ideology does not regard women's obligations in a unidimensional perspective. Women's domestic roles are not devalued. Nor are women's public obligations seen as secondary to immediate domest ic functions. Rather than domestic roles limiting women's options in the public domain, they facilitate women's engagement in community issues. W o m e n who wield domestic authority fairly and competently are honoured as mothers and viewed as potential community leaders. Female elders aspiring to influence community affairs and desiring the respect that elders are granted, must be known as women who can provide well for their kin and the needy of the community. W o m e n who have achieved such all-round respect "can make things happen." When they speak, others listen. The older, strong women hold a special position in the community's social structure and world view. On the one hand, they represent traditional values and 182 knowledge, on the other hand they have acquired skills associated with cultural change and modernization. In other words, these women are esteemed as ideal nurturers and as leaders upholding the time-honoured image of Old Woman. At the same time they are successful because they have the capacity for leadership in the imposed white man's system. Being female is instrumental to their strategies of leadership, for as the following chapters illustrate, those women who s u c c e e d as leaders are the ones who conduct themselves according to the ideological foundations of their culture. 183 C H A P T E R SIX D O M E S T I C LIFE A N D KINSHIP O R G A N I Z A T I O N 1 Introduction In this chapter I describe domestic life and kinship organization in relation to the economic conditions of the reserve. I pay specific attention to the position of women within the kin groups and to the ways in which women affect their formation and membership. I ask, What are women's domestic functions and how d o these affect domestic life and kinship organization? Welfare C o l o n i a l i s m The socio-economic conditions of Saik'uz conform to those defined by Paine as "welfare colonialism" or "welfare dependency" (Paine 1977). In conditions of welfare colonialism an underdeveloped community is not only wholly dependent upon the state for economic resources, it is also subjected to the state's definitions of it as a social problem (ibid.:14-15). Control of economic resources resides with the state. The community lacks the power to determine the amount or nature of the resources offered to it and exercises very limited discretion in their reallocation. In a similar vein, social and cultural programs are defined and controlled by state agencies, often in a paternalistic fashion. A s stated earlier, at all levels of economic management, Saik'uz relies upon 1 I am grateful to Harold McGee for reading earlier versions of most of this chapter. He kindly offered advice on charting the structural and social relationships of the kin-based social groups, and provided insightful comments on the analysis of kinship organization and female domestic authority. 184 state funding. The primary source of personal income, whether earned or unearned, devolves from programmes administered by federal agencies. The community lacks entirely an independent fiscal base, such as the right to levy taxes, to determine royalties on resources, or to transfer funds for social assistance programmes to employment schemes. Community administration of social, educational, and cultural programmes creates its limited employment opportunities. In short, economic development is contingent upon the state and lies totally outside of community control. The government provides contributions to personal income through social transfer payments. DIAND grants social assistance funds for the unemployed, which the welfare officer distributes to reserve residents. Under this programme, the district office of DIAND sets assistance rates for subsistence according to regional standards established by the provincial government. There is, however, a crucial difference between DIAND and provincial rates. DIAND rates, which apply only on the reserve, include housing costs only for home owners. Moreover, these subsidies are calculated only to cover minimum costs. Fuel subsidies, for example, may not cover actual expenses; other expenses, such as appliance repair and replacement, are not subsidized. Interpersonal tensions are the inevitable results of this policy. Home owners, understandably, prefer household members to contribute to routine costs. At the time of research, monthly social assistance payments ranged from $175 for a single, presumably employable adult to $775 for a household unit of ten. 185 Handicapped individuals and others categorized as unemployable received only slightly more than other single adults, $245 monthly, with no guaranteed provisions for subsidization of additional costs borne as a consequence of a disability. 2 The band's welfare officer has some discretion in social assistance allocation. She can classify individuals as employable or otherwise and can disperse a small portion of the budget for unexpected expenses arising from unavoidable emergencies. 3 The subsidized housing programme offered by DIAND is another factor of welfare colonialism. The management of the housing programme exemplifies the degree of outside control exercised over Saik'uz and its far reaching impact on household organization and social relations. Under this programme, the federal government assumes responsibility for providing new houses for reserve residents. In 1984, a new housing programme, known as "social housing," was introduced. Federal responsibility for housing costs is now divided between DIAND and the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) . Now bands are required to borrow funds from an approved lender, a bank or trust company, to cover fifty per cent or more of the capital costs. Interests rates are subsidized by C M H C leaving 2 These income levels fall well below the poverty line as established by National Council of Welfare. In 1982, the poverty lines for rural areas were set at $7,322 for an individual and $20,719 for a family unit of seven or more (National Council of Welfare 1984). 3 The depth of reliance on social assistance is indicated by the fact that almost one half of the 1983-84 band budget was allocated to social services: $356,398 or 46.7 percent of the total budget of $763,263. In contrast only $116,475 was allotted .to band operations. 186 the band to pay two per cent per annum on its loan. According to the DIAND annual report, in 1984 the national average cost of a housing unit was $40,000; DIAND offered a subsidy of $20,000 per unit, and C M H C subsidized a loan, held by the band, which covered the balance. The band owns the homes and enters into rent-to-own agreements with individuals. Employed home owners make monthly payments of up to twenty-five per cent of their income; unemployed home owners have their social assistance allowances adjusted to cover the loan payments. Payments are based on market rents for comparable accommodat ion off the reserve. The allotment of housing funds lies entirely in the hands of DIAND. Allocations are made to the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council which then redistributes the funds amongst its fourteen member bands. The band council's housing committee then divides its share among reserve residents. Individual applicants pay a deposit of $500. The housing programme does more than provide accommodat ion. It also creates seasonal jobs for a few young men. During the research period, up to fifteen young men were hired to construct ten houses. Working under the supervision of a non-Indian contractor, they learned the skills of the construction trade and earned approximately $1000 to $1500 per month, entitling them to unemployment insurance of 60 per cent of their salary for the rest of the year. The practical training young men receive, however, is limited; it leaves them at a level of expertise below that of neighbouring Euro-Canadians. Hence, they remain outside of the larger labour 187 force. The programme cannot offer anyone financial security; the number and duration of jobs fluctuate each year according to the number of housing units granted. H o u s e h o l d C o m p o s i t i o n In Saik'uz, the chronic shortage of village funds, coupled with a shortage of housing units and extraordinary high unemployment, gives rise to a shifting population and an overcrowded, unstable housing situation. Resident units range from family groups of two to four generations, to unstable households of several men, to married couples, and to solitary adults. The population is spread disproportionably among the houses. For example, 1 two-bedroom home shelters 5 adults and 5 children, while 3 smaller houses, designed for single occupancy, may contain up to 4 or more men. Larger houses may have fewer residents. S o m e married couples, who are without children or whose adult children have their own homes, may only occasionally share their homes with others. In a matter of a few days a household may lose as many as dozen residents, or it may gain residents equally rapidly, as when an elderly widow takes in grandchildren or when adult children return to the reserve. Individual mobility afforded by the personal income of welfare and by access to shared domestic resources means that individuals may depart from or enter into households as circumstances require. While the actual membership of any household may change frequently, some patterns of residence can be identified. A s Table 5 shows, households of two or more generations most commonly form in the homes of married couples and 188 Table 5 Number of Generations Living in Households by Marital Status of Household Head Marital Status of Household Head Married Coup le 1 Nonmarr ied 2 Widowed Total Number 1 5 17 2 24 of 2 14 7 5 26 Generations 3 5 11 5 21 4 4 2 2 8 Total 28 37 14 79 1. Includes consensual marriages. 2. Includes never married, separated, and divorced. Source: Village Census conducted March 1984. Recorded in field notes. 189 widows, and far less frequently in the homes of nonmarried household heads. Only 5 of 28 married couples and 2 of 14 widowed persons live in single generational homes. Yet almost half of the nonmarried household heads, 17 of 37, live in single generational homes. A s indicated above, the housing program subsidized by the DIAND cannot accommodate everyone who wishes to live on the reserve. The band administrators and the housing committee grant priority to established family units (of one or two parents) with dependent children. Single adults, very young mothers, and couples without children have less chance of receiving their own homes. Former band members who have lost their Indian status and their nonstatus adult children, whether they, too, are parents or not, face even greater difficulty. Only when their status kin are willing and have surplus space can nonstatus families either occupy older homes vacated by their kin or seek space with their relatives. S o m e nonstatus women, anxious to have their children raised in the Carrier culture, s e n d their children to the reserve while they remain elsewhere. In addition, individuals who have left Saik'uz frequently return to live with relatives, reaffirming emotional ties, taking advantage of temporary summer employment, or participating in seasonal subsistence activities. In their effort to receive a new home, it is not unusual for adult siblings to propose a c o m m o n residence and advance the argument that, should they receive a new home, it would be occup ied fully. The result is overcrowding. Houses supplied by DIAND are not des igned for 190 multifamily use; they are relatively small (less than a thousand square feet) one-storey single family houses. With the crowded housing come friction and tension, thrusting some family members from their relatives' homes and forcing them to reside outside of the village. Within the village, some adults and children continually move from house to house in search of a home with relatives and friends. Disillusionment caused by poverty and insecure housing results in heightened tensions within intimate relationships. Marriages, either legal or consensual , are brittle. W o m e n may refuse marriage in order to retain their Indian status, while men may avoid clear commitments because of their inability to provide for dependent children. A m o n g adults over thirty years of age, considerably more men than women are permanent reserve residents: 65 men and 46 women. In this population segment, there are only 18 legally married couples. With 47 (49.3%) of the men over thirty either single, separated, divorced, or widowed, households of solely adult male residents frequently form. Given the high unemployment rate, most men are unable to fulfil the cultural expectations of providing consistent economic support for women and children. Reliance on social assistance allows men to form their transitory households without disrupting the income of their immediate kin. The current allocation of houses takes into account the brittle nature of marriages and a preference on the part of some women for single motherhood. Whereas in the past homes were granted more frequently to males, married, or single, more recently the tendency has been to provide single mothers with their own homes. Women now own twenty-seven of the community's eighty-two houses (Table 191 Table 6 House Owners by Marital Status and Gender House Owners Male Female Total Marital Married 1 29 - 29 Status Single 15 9 24 Widowed 5 13 18 Separated/Divorced 6 5 11 Total 55 27 82 1. Includes consensual marriage. Source: Records of Stoney Creek Band Office 192 6). Women associate domestic conflicts and violence with male drinking and disillusionment from unemployment. Avoidance of continued violence is often cited as a reason for women to seek economic autonomy and to have their own homes. Women argue that they can exert greater control over their male partners when they enjoy the security of home ownership. As home owners, women determine the conditions of male residence and get community support for refusing to continue living in a violent relationship. Dependency upon subsidized housing forces the most personal decisions concerning co-residence into the public forum. Marital tensions and sibling incompatibility all become the subject of public discussion as households split and generate new housing demands . The continual reformation of households and interpersonal' conflicts have community-wide ramifications. The blurred boundaries between domestic and public concerns have their parallel in established cultural practices. Semipublic use of houses, whether for pleasure or for conducting community business is the norm. Weekend partying is a regular feature of Saik'uz social life. Into the early morning of most weekends, the young and bored cruise through the streets seeking amusement. They pour in and out of homes without any specific invitation. Partying can lead to house guests who remain until breakfast or even for several days longer. Apart from partying, the homes of single men regularly attract casual visitors, even in the homeowner's absence. Where partying is not welcome, for example, in the homes of elders, of families 193 with young children, or of nondrinkers, other semipublic activities are enjoyed. An older woman may agree to unplanned child sitting or find that a number of younger women show up for assistance in their arts and crafts. W o m e n like to gather in the elders' living rooms to share craft work, which they will sell for personal income or for community funds. Informal meetings occur to d iscuss reserve affairs and to make plans for social occasions. Just as domestic issues are resolved outside of the private sphere, so community business is routinely conducted within the home. Family a n d Kinship Organizat ion i) T h e Family and Extended Family The semipublic nature of domestic life is consistent with the very broad concept of family that dominates kin relations. Even distant kin, such as second cousins or grandnieces and grandnephews, are considered family. English and Carrier sibling terms 4 apply to all first cousins. If c lose personal relationships obtain between distant cousins, sibling terms may also be used . When asked to define family, elders differentiate between "close" family members and "distant" relatives.5 In practice, however, most kin are referred to as family, and little, if any, distinction is made between close and distant relatives. 4 This usage is consistent with Central Carrier terminology. Shirley Walker notes that "present day usage of terms equates all first cousins with brothers and sisters" (Walker et_al. 1974:379). 5 Distinctions between close and distant family or kin are c o m m o n among the Carrier people. Within the broad category of relatives, snatneku. some kin are close, susnatneku. others are distant, uasnaten (Hudson 1983:186; cf. Go ldman 1963:335). 194 There is no indigenous or vernacular term that clearly differentiates a nuclear family--wife, husband, dependent children-either from a three or four generation family unit or from a domestic group c o m p o s e d of two or more nuclear families. In keeping with their understanding of past social organization, Saik'uz Whut'enne maintain that the "extended family" was and should now be the fundamental unit bearing responsibility for economic co-operation and child rearing. Their usage of the term extended family, however, is ambiguous; it may designate a personal kindred or the children and grandchildren of an identified couple or individual (that is, a single parent, children, and grandchildren). In the discussion that follows the term "family" is u s e d to indicate a co -residential kinship group that engages in daily decision making and that shares domestic functions. "Extended family" indicates a larger decision-making group spanning more than two generations and comprising two or more related families who occupy separate households, poo! economic resources, and share child-rearing responsibilities. Decision making within the extended family is differentially distributed; for example, the eldest woman commonly stores and controls allocation of a shared food supply or intervenes to settle disputes among other adult members. Members of task groups are most commonly drawn from the constituent families and organized under its eldest member. Despite the overlapping of kin ties within the community, not everyone is a member of a family or extended family. Alleged deviation from norms of generosity and co-operation may result in ostracism. For example, one elderly male, who has 195 no living siblings or children, is isolated as a consequence of alleged harmful and selfish behaviour. Marginal families with little status, few resources, and few resident members d o not aggregate into larger groups. The economics of welfare colonialism affect the division of domestic functions and financial responsibilities of family members. A s in the past, mutual aid among related households is essential for individual units to remain viable. Even when married couples or single parents establish separate households, they are unlikely to achieve economic autonomy; extended families pool domestic resources and share their labour and cash incomes. The prevailing shortage of money and work has culminated in quite different responsibilities for women and men and offers women some advantages over men: control over subsistence foods, greater cash incomes because of child support cheques, and a handful of permanent jobs on the reserve. The gender division of subsistence responsibilities affects cross-sex relationships and the allocation of authority. ii) Domest ic Responsibi l i t ies In the current economic circumstances women bear greater responsibility for the production and allocation of domestic provisions than do men. A s noted earlier, women net and control the distribution of salmon, the staple food. Women produce salmon for family consumption, for distribution to needy community members, and for community events. They consider all these factors as they calculate their annual requirements. Women also consider the costs of various forms of processing. That is, they weigh the rather high costs of canning fish for distribution outside the kin 196 group (often the canning jars are not returned) against the more economical methods of drying or, if they own large freezers, freezing the fish. W o m e n are prudent when they distribute their salmon. They first take care of the very elderly, particularly widowers and elders who cannot rely on their families for salmon. Young women and men also depend on the largesse of these s a m e women. How much food an individual receives depends on the quality of her/his relationship to the senior women. One female elder explained her criteria for sharing fish with younger adults: I'm very careful. It's no good just handing it out like any old ration, making people lazy. I give it to the workers first. The young, in turn, openly praise the women who provide for them. One young man stated, That Isabelle, she locks after everybody. She helps them out. Last winter, them days I had nothing. She was real g o o d to me that time. Nine female elders own fish nets, boats or canoes, trucks or cars, and the sundry equipment needed for the annual fishery. Working with their junior kinswomen, daughters, daughters-in-law, grand-daughters, and nieces, they fish sufficient supplies for their three or four generational extended families and for needy community members. Few other women own the full range of necessary equipment and are, therefore, to some degree dependent upon those who do. W o m e n without any equipment are happy to have an opportunity to share in the elders' task groups. 197 To the best of my knowledge, men do not own fishing equipment. S o m e men assist the women by carrying heavy loads, by transporting women and gear to the netting site, and by aiding the actual setting of the nets, but it is the female elders who own the equipment, organize the work, preserve the catch, and distribute the surplus. This division of labour and proprietorship is not unusual a m o n g the various Carrier bands, as Kobrinsky observed at Babine Lake: It is remarkable that the arduous work of setting and gathering the nets (as well as of repairing the nets) is entirely the function of the women. Of course, the women are also responsible for cleaning and smoking of the fish ... at the present time the men who were once entirely responsible for-the trapping and killing of the salmon are confined to performing only certain ancillary jobs, including the repair of boats, smokehouses, and the maintaining of a g o o d wood supply at the smokehouse. It has been explained to me that the men d o not fish salmon on Nilkitkwa because to be seen setting or gathering nets on a lake is akin to being "caught in the kitchen with an apron" (Kobrinsky 1973:35). 6 Kobrinsky also recognized that women control the allocation and sale of processed fish: I would only note finally that, as might be expected in the circumstances, smoked fish must be purchased from the women, and the proceeds from the sale are strictly theirs (ibid.:37). Precise calculations of the fish catch are not available from the Saik'uz 6 Given the economic and cultural significance of salmon, and the intense struggle to protect aboriginal rights to the fish, I am not persuaded that men viewed the work of fishing as lightly as Kobrinsky suggests. 198 Whut'enne. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans , however, recorded the 1984 sockeye catch along the Nechako River (from the mouth of the Stuart River to Nadleh) at 10,482 fish (Schubert 1985). At the estimated dressed weight of sockeye salmon of 1.8 kilograms (4.1 pounds) , the 1984 catch provided approximately 18,867.8 kilograms or 42,976.2 pounds of edible fish. This catch is taken primarily by members of the Saik'uz and Nadleh bands, whose total reserve residents number approximately 500. This catch provides each resident with approximately 38 kilograms (89.95 pounds) of s a l m o n . 7 Large game hunting, a male activity, cannot supply the same abundance as fishing. Provincial game laws restrict off reserve hunting to a few weeks in late summer and fall, making it difficult for men to procure an adequate supply for year round consumption. During the season set by provincial game laws, however, hunting is the focal interest of the community. Men usually hunt in small groups of two to four, very rarely more. W o m e n join the men, particularly if the planned hunting will not take them away from the reserve overnight. Hunters bring their game home to be butchered and preserved. Meat processing is primarily the work of women, although men, in particular older men, assist with it. Women's task groups are made up of the hunter's female kin. When two unrelated men hunt together, each takes a portion to share with his 7 Hudson recorded 1975 sockeye catches by household for the Stuart Lake Carrier. The average production was roughly 272 kilograms (600 pounds) per household. A s Hudson explains, these fish would be shared with nonfishing households in the community. 199 kin. Distribution of game takes place at the time of the hunt. Individual households may either use it fresh or store it for later use. In the latter case , the surplus supply is controlled by women, thus enhancing women's reputations as generous providers to the needy. One young man suggested that the hunter will have only minimal say in its distribution, especially if he is young. In his case , he brought his game to his grandmother, who directed its allocation. Because of the provincial game laws, which levy penalties for hunting out of the established season, of the lack of state recognition of aboriginal rights to natural resources, and of past seizures of outlawed game by wildlife officers, the community is reluctant to provide estimates of their game consumption. In the event of out-of-season hunting, the distribution of game takes place as quickly and as unobtrusively as possible. I recorded one instance in my fieid notes. A moose was taken in August. Although it had been shot in the afternoon, the hunter did not return with it until dark. He took it to his mother-in-law, and she and several of her daughters and a son butchered the meat and allocated portions for distribution to other families. The men quickly circulated the meat to various households of older women. There the meat was divided into smaller portions and given to other elders and to the households of the woman's children. The meat was eaten fresh or was frozen. It was explained that stores of moose meat were at their lowest in late summer, so fresh meat is particularly desired. Women also contribute to the costs of hunting. W o m e n who d o not hunt may subsidize the expenses of a male hunter. By lending a rifle or a truck, by 200 purchasing ammunition, or by offering personal services to a hunter, women can expect a generous share of his game. Social assistance payments to single or separated men are grossly inadequate for subsistence and can rarely, if ever, be stretched to cover other expenses. Hence, unless they already own rifles and vehicles or can borrow them from others, the costs of hunting are beyond their personal means. Domestic production entails far more than just providing food. W o m e n and men offer a range of services to one another that would otherwise be unattainable to the majority of reserve residents. Women make and repair clothing for their children and other kin. They also cut hair, share home-baked goods , and offer a range of personal services. In a similar fashion, men aid their families and community by cutting firewood, repairing houses, home appliances, and vehicles. Women also contribute to domestic provisioning through organizing community rummage sales and clothing exchanges. Wives and husbands maintain considerable personal autonomy in the management of their economic affairs. Money is not necessarily pooled between spouses ; wives and husbands speak of "my money" and "his [or her]" money. Since there is no common ownership, references are not made to "our" money. C a s h income is considered to be personal property. Women may enjoy a higher income than their husbands if they sell handicrafts or take in foster children. When a married couple is on social assistance, they frequently share a c o m m o n income. However, should a husband not use the family cheque to care for his children, the 201 money may then be given to his wife. Or, if disagreements over the c o m m o n income cause domestic conflict, the welfare administrator can issue separate cheques . Loans and assistance to kin are given independently of one's s p o u s e . This sense of individual control extends to personal property such as trucks or cars. Should a women own a vehicle, even if she does not drive it, her husband would not assume responsibility for allowing others to use it, not even the couple's sons or daughters. Women are often registered vehicle owners, rather than their husbands or live-in sons, because this ensures their control over needed transportation. When a vehicle is used by many members of an extended family, the owner can expect payment for its use and its maintenance. W o m e n who must rely on their sons or husbands for transportation are at a dec ided disadvantage. Strong respect for individual autonomy makes it difficult for these women to insist on male co-operation. One elder, living on an isolated farm, explained that her husband's failure to remain at home with his truck often made her miss important meetings and prevented her from salmon fishing as frequently as she desired. She lamented that she had not bought a truck herself and planned to do so with income earned from a cultural project and from handicraft sales. W o m e n also assume more responsibility for child care than men do. A s Table 7 shows, households headed by men do not include dependent children. Conversely, all but one household headed by women do include dependent children. Whereas it