Browsing All Posts filed under »First Nations History«

William Duncan in Metlakatla

May 20, 2013


From In the Wake of the War Canoe by William Collison.   The story of Metlakatla is a quintessentially British Columbia story, which, in the middle of the 19th century, represented the farthest, deepest reaches of the British Empire.  The founding of the community represented an experiment in Christian Utopianism, an experiment that failed, among […]

Meeting the Haida Fleet by WH Collison

May 19, 2013


William  Henry Collison arrived on the Northwest Coast in 1873 to begin work as a missionary for the Church Missionary Society.  He learned Tsimshian while teaching at the Utopian (and totalitarian) Tsimshian community of Metlakatla, which was then under the management of the famous William Duncan.  He also worked with the Nass River Nisga’a at the beginning […]

Why Disease Conquered the Americas

May 17, 2013


History of Aboriginal America 15. Disease and the conquest of the Americas, pt.2 The scale of what happened in the Americas is unparalleled in human history.  An estimated 80 to 100 million people died in the century or two following Columbus. Some are dying still.  For comparison, Europe itself contained only about 80 million people when […]

What Defeated the Mexica?

May 5, 2013


History of Aboriginal America 14. Disease and the conquest of the Americas, pt. 1 When Cortés entered Tenochtitlan in 1521 with his 200,000 Aboriginal allies, he made acquaintance with the true conqueror of Mexico along that great city’s causeways.  He did not salute it. Bodies lay along all the causeways in great piles, killed by […]

Also at the Conquest

April 5, 2013


History of Aboriginal America 13 The Invisible Allies of the Conquistadors Columbus was notorious for continuing to insist, despite growing evidence to the contrary—and his own encounter with the South American continent on his fourth voyage—that he had found the route to the Indies in 1492.  You could call this insistence peculiar stubbornness (of which […]

The Conquistador’s Playbook

March 13, 2013


History of Aboriginal America 12 Cortés and the Seven Protocols of Conquest Shortly after he came ashore on the Central American mainland in 1519, Hernán Cortés symbolically “founded” the city of Vera Cruz, and after dispatching an agent to Spain, he thereafter grounded and scuttled his remaining ships.  What were these mad Spaniards up to […]

A Handful of Myths

March 11, 2013


History of Aboriginal America 11 Cortés, the conquistadors, and the myth of the “handful of adventurers.” When 19th century historian William Prescott wrote about Hernán Cortés’ and his role in the invasion and destruction of the Aztec empire beginning in 1521, he described the event as “the subversion of a great empire by a handful […]

Some Notes on Indigenous California

December 5, 2012


If you look at the Aboriginal people of California through the lens of a language map, you get one notion of cultural organization, but it’s hardly the most important one in respect of understanding California Aboriginal culture.  Because of linguistically determined relationships between language stocks, a map of indigenous languages can give us useful hints […]

Settling California, 15,000 BCE

October 26, 2012


Looking at a map of Aboriginal languages in California, one is first struck by how very many there are.  In fact, the hundred-plus California indigenous languages add up to at least 20% of all languages spoken in Aboriginal North America.  North of the 49th parallel, British Columbia similarly dominates.  The twenty-eight languages spoken in Aboriginal […]

Missions in Spanish California, 1769-1836

October 23, 2012


The 21 missions established after 1769 in Spanish California were, in fact, the primary economic engines of Spanish and then Mexican California.  The mission lands comprised hundreds of hectares of fields where wheat, barley, corn and other crops were grown and where orchards were cultivated. Within their acreages were also thousands of head of cattle […]