UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A history of the Okanagan : Indians and whites in the settlement era, 1860-1920 Thomson, Duncan Duane


This study’s primary focus is on white settlement and Indian dispossession and marginalizatian, the theme being developed in the context of a comprehensive local history A number of sub-themes are developed including the relationship between political power and landholding, the changing role of chiefs in Indian society, the importance of the railway in consolidating economic power, the connection between transportation and changing industrial activity and the significance of land tenure regimes in economic performance. After an introduction and outline history the paper is organized in three parts. The first deals with the institutions which supported settlers and were imposed upon Indians. The four institutions examined are missionary activity as it related to Indians and the political, judicial and educational structures as they affected Indians and whites. The notable characteristic of these institutions is that the services delivered to the two racial groups were markedly different, that Indians never received the benefit of their support. The second section considers the critical question of Indian access to resources, the conditions under which reserves were assigned and then repeatedly altered, and the question of aboriginal rights to the land The discrepancy in the terms in which whites and Indians could claim land and the insecurity of tenure of Indians is documented. The third section considers economic sectors: hunting, fishing and gathering, mining, stockraising and agriculture. In the latter two industries, pursued by both Indians and whites, the two communities are juxtaposed to observe differences in their conduct of those industries. The critical elements determining different performance are identified as the differing quantities of obtainable land, and the land and water tenure regimes under which the participants operated although other factors such as increasing capitalization, an oppressive Department of Indian affairs, inadequate access to education and health services and restricted rights in the political and judicial spheres were contributing factors. Okanagan society in the pre-World War I era is seen as a racist society, one in which a completely different set of rules existed for each race and in which social distance between races increased over time White settlers succeeded in building a society with all the features of the modern world: well developed transportation and communications, urban centres, supportive social service institutions, and an educated and prosperous population, in short, a harmonious and just society But this development occured at the expense of the Indian Population. As a society they could only be characterized as a dependent, impoverished, diseased and illiterate people, prone to alcohol and appearing to lack in ambition White success was built upon Indian dispossession.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.