Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Peoples and Histories
The Aboriginal peoples of the Hudson Bay watershed experienced profound challenges from the 1600s onward, as they interacted with European fur traders, and later with missionaries, farmer-settlers, and other migrants. Cultures and economies changed, kinship patterns and language usages shifted, and the demographics of a new population of mixed descent had far-reaching implications. After 1870, the coming of federal Indian treaties, jurisdiction, schools, and settlement and resource-use pressures brought fundamental and long-term consequences.
Dr. Brown has spent years researching the histories and lives of the Cree, Ojibwe, and Metis who enabled European newcomers’ survival and success. Their stories and memories, preserving their observations and perceptions of their people’s experiences, complement and challenge both the outsiders’ records and their notions of history itself, as revealed in Louis Bird’s volumes of Hudson Bay Cree stories (2005, 2007) whose publication she facilitated, and in the texts of Ojibwe chief William Berens (2009) gathered by anthropologist A.I. Hallowell. Aboriginal voices speak strongly and sometimes subversively through the writings of anthropologists, missionaries, fur traders, and other outsiders. Working with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal colleagues devoted to this enterprise, Dr. Brown is reading beyond the words, enriching the telling of history from different angles.
Dr. Brown’s collaborative research and publications are generating insights and materials invaluable for scholars, students, and Aboriginal communities striving for better understandings of Aboriginal histories themselves, in their own right. Through her writings, documentary editing, and mentoring, she works to shift the understanding, writing, and teaching of Canadian history itself towards deeper, more inclusive approaches that reach beyond stereotypes and simple dualisms.
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