Aboriginal Peoples of Canada: A Short Introduction

Article excerpt

Paul R. Magosci (ed.), Aboriginal Peoples of Canada: A Short Introduction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), viii + 308pp. Cloth. £40. ISBN 0-8020-3630-9. Paper. £15. ISBN 0-8020-8469-9.

Published previously in a slightly different version as part of the massive Encyclopaedia of Canada's Peoples (University of Toronto Press, 1999), this book is too long and detailed to serve as 'A Short Introduction' to Canada's Native Peoples. However, but for the decision, or non-decision, on the part of the editor and Press not to provide an index, map and cross references, it could have been a very useful work. Their absence lessens the book's utility for those unwilling to read from cover to cover, or not already reasonably well-informed. For example, it took me three minutes, some background and a hunch to find a definition of Innu. All this is unfortunate because there is much useful content. The contributors have not been well served, as the publishers have missed their target audience.

The introduction, by J.R. Miller, the University of Saskatchewan historian with a reputation in Canadian Indian-white relations, is excellent, viewing Aboriginal peoples through historical writing, evaluating terminology, reconstructing pre-contact migration, demography and economy, examining Aboriginal-European contact, treaties and agreements, and reviewing Canada's evolving policy towards its Native Peoples, as well as their responses to it. …