Authorizing Voices: Going Public in an Indigenous Language

Essay Excerpt

In this article I examine a declaration issued by a band of Indians in British Columbia, Canada in 1989. Wilson's and Jefferson's formulation of the question of authority in terms of voice clarifies what is politically significant and theoretically interesting about it. The indigenous leaders issued the declaration to influence the provincial government's decisions regarding the use of the band's traditional territory. The authority of the declaration derives from the fact that the people of the band, and we as anthropologists, can "discernin its texture," as formulated by Looby, an aboriginal vocal origin of the textual artifact. The "aboriginal vocal origin," I will demonstrate, is the voice of the group's mythical culture hero. It is familiar to elders from experiencing sessions of myth narration in their youths; it is familia rto younger literate band members, at least in part, from the collection of the tribal folklore and mythology published under the auspices of Franz Boas (Farrand 1900).'  (Dinwoodie, 193)

About the Author

Dinwoodie is a Professor at the University of New Mexico.

His research interests lie with the following: Sociocultural anthropology; Linguistic anthropology; theory and history, ethnonationalism, neoliberalism, and historical consiousness; 19th century British colonialism; Pacific Northwest, Native North America, Canada. 

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