UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Land tenure among the Upper Thompson Indian [sic] McDonnell, Roger Francis


This thesis attempts to examine the nature of the system of land tenure as it exists among the Upper Thompson Indians who live in the vicinity of Lytton on the Fraser River. It is a fact that among Indian bands in Canada, there exists the possibility of at least one system of land tenure being in operation and this is as it is officially laid down in the Indian Act. There are instances recorded of the instigation of this official system producing conflict between the administration and the Indian because it violated certain aspects of an indigenous system. It was noticed that among the Upper Thompson, conflict with respect to the question of land tenure was minimal and, as a result, an examination of why this might be so was thought to be of interest. The information for the study was gathered by essentially three main methods: (1) personal interviews with members of nearly every household on the reserve lands; (2) personal access to various files in the Indian Office, combined with discussion with various administrators; and (3) as participant observer among the Indians of the region as they carried out their daily activities. It was concluded in the examination that the official system of land tenure was focused on land which was for the benefit of the band as a whole, and this land was for the most part uninhabited. The administrators were not attempting to instigate a system of land tenure at the level of the individual Indian and consequently he has been left to his own devices to organize how the tenure of land is to be established. This has resulted in considerable variations in the Indian system of land tenure being allowed to evolve. These variations are not articulated normative distinctions by the Indians themselves; rather, they have been observed as methods of behaving with respect to changing sets of facts, such as availability to individual wage labour, accessibility of the Indian to the administrator, and vice-versa, and the relative proximity of the various residential sites to the town of Lytton. The disposition of these factors, among others, has been instrumental in effecting both the extent of the groups which have tenure of land in the region, as well as the nature of the affective significance associated with land.

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