“Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind”: Documenting Huu-ay-aht First Nations' Journey to the Maa-Nulth Treaty Through Community-Based Archival Research
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For many musčim (citizens) of Huu-ay-aht First Nations, a Nuu-chah-nulth worldview informs their individual identities and responsibilities to the world around them as Huu-ay-aht. Three sacred principles guide Huu-ay-aht relationships to each other, to other Nuu-chah-nulth, and all spiritual and physical lifeforms in their ḥahuułi (homelands): hišuk c̕awak (everything is one, connected), ʔiisaak (respect with caring), and ʔuuʔałuk (caring for present and future generations). This worldview was challenged by setter contact in the late 18th century. Contact became a collision in which a European worldview drove colonial settlement across what is now Canada. Historic treaties were negotiated across much of Canada between the 18th and 19th century. However, this was not the case in British Columbia, where settlement occurred largely on the unceded territories of Indigenous Peoples. By the 20th century, Provincial and Federal governments halted the treaty process, and instead shifted toward a forced assimilative approach that worked to criminalize and suppress Indigenous ways of life. This continued until 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian government had the fiduciary duty to negotiate treaties under a modern process. This research explores the extent to which worldview shapes the relationship between Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the Government of Canada, and the Province of British Columbia in modern treaty negotiations. This thesis is the result of a community-based participatory research project with Huu-ay-aht First Nations. The research is primarily archival in nature, in which I trace Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ 18-year journey to the Maa-nulth Treaty. However, my analysis has also been supplemented by community engagement sessions and time spent in the community attending speaking with citizens about their memories of treaty negotiations and their experience with its implementation. By centering Huu-ay-aht voices throughout the research process, this work produces new insights into how one First Nation successfully managed to negotiate a modern treaty. These findings offer recommendations to Provincial and Federal negotiators to improve the modern treaty process. As well, this community-focused perspective offers insights into the strengths and challenges of the modern treaty process for First Nations considering, or who are currently participating in, modern treaty negotiations.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/22967
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