The story of how the Musqueam First Nation have used cultural objects to take control of their history and land.
Archaeologists studying human remains and burial sites of North America's Indigenous peoples have discovered more than information about the beliefs and practices of cultures - they have also found controversy. These Mysterious People shows how Western ideas and attitudes about Indigenous peoples have transformed one culture's ancestors, burial grounds, and possessions into another culture's "specimens," "archaeological sites," and "ethnographic artifacts," in the process disassociating Natives from their own histories.
Focusing on the Musqueam people and a contentious archaeological site in Vancouver, These Mysterious People details the relationship between the Musqueam and researchers from the late-nineteenth century to the present. Susan Roy traces the historical development of competing understandings of the past and reveals how the Musqueam First Nation used information derived from archaeological finds to assist the larger recognition of territorial rights. She also details the ways in which Musqueam legal and cultural expressions of their own history - such as land claim submissions, petitions, cultural displays, and testimonies - have challenged public accounts of Aboriginal occupation and helped to define Aboriginal rights in Canada. An important and engaging examination of methods of historical representation, These Mysterious People analyses the ways historical evidence, material culture, and places themselves have acquired legal and community authority.