Prophecy and Power among the Dogrib Indians

By June Helm | Go to book overview

1
Prelude to Prophecy

To Set the Stage

The Dogribs are one of the Dene peoples, Athapaskan-speaking Indians, who inhabit the western subarctic of North America. (For ethnographic and ethnohistorical summaries on the Dogribs, see Helm 1972, 1981a). The Dogrib range comprises that portion of the rocky upland Canadian Shield and bordering plain that drain into the North Arm of Great Slave Lake in the District of Mackenzie of Canada's Northwest Territories. Hunting caribou and moose, snaring hare, fishing, and, after "contact," trapping fur animals, Dogribs lived off the bush, an open coniferous woodland interspersed with thousands of lakes. For several decades before this study, official Canadian government "band rolls" had segregated the Dogrib collectivity into two administrative sets, Yellowknife B Band and Dog Rib Rae Band. The band rolls enumerated all "treaty Indians," descendants of persons officially recognized as Indians under two treaties. Dogribs who traded into Fort Resolution on the south side of Great Slave Lake "took Treaty" in 1900 under Treaty No. 8; these became the Yellowknife B Band in the official nomenclature. The remainder, and greater number of the Dogribs, took Treaty in 1921 under Treaty No. 11; these Dogribs, who traded into Fort Rae, were designated the Dog Rib Rae Band. Each summer at treaty time, a government representative "paid treaty" at the fort--five dollars to each treaty Indian, with councillors receiving fifteen dollars and chiefs twenty-five--and issued ammunition and fishing-net twine to household heads, directly or through the councillors or chief. (See appendix for descriptions of these statuses.) The treaty payments encouraged even more a seasonal congregation of folk, especially the men, at the fort, where they were already accustomed to gathering after the "spring hunt" to trade their beaver and muskrat pelts and enjoy group feasts, dances, and games. Also, in the decades following the establishment of the Roman

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Prophecy and Power among the Dogrib Indians
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xii
  • Orthography xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Three Styles in the Practice of Prophecy 5
  • 1 - Prelude to Prophecy 7
  • 2 - Message, Performance, and Persona 27
  • 3 - The Foundations of Prophecy 52
  • Part Two - Ink'On 73
  • 4 - One Man's Ink'On 75
  • 5 - Aspects of Ink'On 80
  • 6 - The Highest Men for Ink'On"" 101
  • 7 - Ink'On in Play and Legend 121
  • 8 - Vital Thomas: A Brief Autobiography 146
  • Appendix 155
  • Notes 158
  • References 164
  • Personal Name Index 169
  • In Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians *
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