UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Indian-European relations in British Columbia : 1774 - 1890 Fisher, Robin Anthony

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the differing nature of Indian and European relations on a fur trading and a settlement frontier. The argument is based on the assumption that there was a fairly sharply definable shift from fur trade to settlement in British Columbia; that in 1858 the fur trade essentially came to an end and the settlement frontier was born. This transition from fur trade to settlement also brought quite fundamental changes in the nature of Indian-European relations. During the fur trading period Indians and Europeans were involved, in a mutually beneficial economic system. Because of the nature of their activities fur traders were both unable and unwilling to force major cultural change on the Indians, so the change that did occur within Indian societies was limited and could be controlled by the Indians. During the fur trading period Indian cultures were stimulated rather than disrupted as a result of contact with Europeans. With settlement, however, the Indians experienced major cultural disruptions. New groups of Europeans arrived and made different demands on the Indians. Gold miners, settlers, missionaries and government officials, in different ways, all required the Indians to make major changes in their way of life, and the whites now had the power to force change. The Indians were no longer free to adapt as they wished, and the pace of change was so rapid that many Indians lost control of their situation. As the Europeans consolidated their hold on the country the traditional Indian cultures were disrupted while the Indians' current needs were neglected. Governmental action constituted an attack on Indian cultures, and reflected the fact that the Indians had become irrelevant to the development of the Province by white settlers. By 189 0 the developments that had commenced with the advent of settlement were complete. The settlers were in a firmly established position of dominance over the Indians of British Columbia.

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