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Tourism is undervalued as a domain that may support marginalized groups in their political struggle for equality in mainstream society. This article uses a discourse analytic approach to examine counterhegemonic claims regarding the buffalo-hunting Plains Indian Culture Complex of the First Nations of Treaty-7 in southern Alberta, Canada. Ethnographic fieldwork and interviews were conducted at various tourist sites in this geographic area where the interpreters and displays strategically contest dominant representations of indigenous cultures as primitive and inferior. In particular, the claim of technological competence asserts the superiority of the Blackfoot culture of the North American Plains for various practices including tipi construction, powwow dancing, and buffalo hunting. We argue that this claim challenges the dominant view regarding the technological inferiority of indigenous cultures, which has been perpetuated in the colonial binary of Western/non-Western societies. This research draws on the insights of Cultural Studies to explore the political potential in the production of cultural performances.

Keywords: Blackfoot culture; Indigenous cultures; Political equality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Calgary, Department of Sociology, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4 Canada

Publication date: 2004-01-01

More about this publication?
  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.
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