Vanishing the Haida: George Dawson's ethnographic vision and the making of settler space on the Queen Charlotte Islands in the late nineteenth century
Author: GREK-MARTIN, JASON
Source: The Canadian Geographer, Volume 51, Number 3, Fall/Automne 2007 , pp. 373-398(26)
Abstract:Recent geographical studies of colonialism in British Columbia have illuminated the ways in which both imperial and native spaces came to be constructed in the province during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Less attention has been paid to the discourses and practices inherent to making settler space in late nineteenth century British Columbia. This article focuses on geologist George Dawson's 1880 report on the Queen Charlotte Islands in order to analyze how his imaginative geography of future settlement and resource extraction (Dawson's principal contribution to the making of settler space on these islands) was legitimized by the past-oriented and quite nostalgic ethnographic study of the archipelago's indigenous Haida population included in the report's appendices. In essence, the ethnographic appendix articulated a colonial narrative of Haida decline that justified their virtual erasure from the descriptive and cartographic depictions of the islands' future resource landscapes set out in the main body of the report. By depicting the Haida as another example of North America's ‘Vanishing Indian’, Dawson's report served to position an ‘authentic’ Haida society in a rapidly-vanishing past from which they could stake few viable claims to the highly-coveted resource landscapes of the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Geography, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H3C3 ( ), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: September 1, 2007