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Distributed for Athabasca University Press

An Ethnohistorian in Rupert’s Land

Unfinished Conversations

For four decades, Jennifer S. H. Brown has examined the complex relationships that developed among the newcomers to Rupert’s Land and the existing Algonquian communities – who hosted and tolerated the fur traders – and later, the missionaries, anthropologists, and others who found their way into Indigenous lives and territories. The eighteen essays gathered in this book explore Brown’s investigations into the surprising range of interactions among Indigenous people and newcomers as they met or observed one another from a distance, and as they competed, compromised, and rejected or adapted to change. As a whole, this volume represents the scholarly evolution of one of the leading ethnohistorians in Canada and the United States.

360 pages

Table of Contents


Part I: Finding Words and Remembering

1 Rupert’s Land, Nituskeenan, Our Land: Cree and European Naming and Claiming Around the Dirty Sea

2 Linguistic Solitudes and Changing Social Categories

3 The Blind Men and the Elephant: Touching the Fur Trade

Part II: “We Married the Fur Trade”: Close Encounters and Their Consequences

4 A Demographic Transition in the Fur Trade: Family Sizes of Company Officers and Country Wives, ca. 1750-1850

5 Challenging the Custom of the Country: James Hargrave, His Colleagues, and “the Sex”

6 Partial Truths: A Closer Look at Fur Trade Marriage

Part III: Families and Kinship, the Old and the Young

7 Older Persons in Cree and Ojibwe Stories: Gender, Power, and Survival

8 Kinship Shock for Fur Traders and Missionaries: The Cross-Cousin Challenge

9 Fur Trade Children in Montréal: The St. Gabriel Street Church Baptisms, 1796–1825

Part IV: Recollecting: Women’s Stories of the Fur Trade and Beyond

10 “Mrs. Thompson Was a Model Housewife”: Finding Charlotte Small

11 “All These Stories About Women”: “Many Tender Ties” and a New Fur Trade History

12 Aaniskotaapaan: Generations and Successions

Part V: Cree and Ojibwe Prophets and Preachers: Braided Streams

13 The Wasitay Religion: Prophecy, Oral Literacy, and Belief on Hudson Bay

14 “I Wish to Be as I See You”: An Ojibwe-Methodist Encounter in Fur Trade Country, 1854–55

15 James Settee and His Cree Tradition: “An Indian Camp at the Mouth of Nelson River Hudsons Bay 1823”

16 “As for Me and My House”: Zhaawanaash and Methodism at Berens River, 1874–83

17 Fair Wind: Medicine and Consolation on the Berens River

18 Fields of Dreams: A. Irving Hallowell and the Berens River Ojibwe


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