A detailed examination of twentieth-century Canadian colonialism and one First Nation's success in withstanding it.
In The White Man's Gonna Getcha Toby Morantz examines threats to the cultural and economic independence of the Crees in eastern James Bay. She argues that while their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fur-trading relationship with the Hudson's Bay Company had been mutually beneficial, Canada's twentieth-century interest in administering its outlying isolated regions actually posed the greatest challenge to the Cree way of life.
Morantz shows that with the imposition of administration from the south the Crees had to confront a new set of foreigners whose ideas and plans were very different from those of the fur traders. In the 1930s and 1940s government intervention helped overcome the disastrous disappearance of the beaver through the creation of government-decreed preserves and a ban on beaver hunting, but beginning in the 1950s a revolving array of socio-economic programs instituted by the government brought the adverse effects of what Morantz calls bureaucratic colonialism.
Drawing heavily on oral testimonies recorded by anthropologists in addition to eye-witness and archival sources, Morantz incorporates the Crees' own views, interests, and responses. She shows how their strong ties to the land and their appreciation of the wisdom of their way of life, coupled with the ineptness and excessive frugality of the Canadian bureaucracy, allowed them to escape the worst effects of colonialism. Despite becoming increasingly politically and economically dominated by Canadian society, the Crees succeeded in staving off cultural subjugation. They were able to face the massive hydroelectric development of the 1970s with their language, practices, and values intact and succeeded in negotiating a modern treaty.
This detailed portrait of twentieth-century Canadian colonialism will be of interest to native studies specialists, anthropologists, and political scientists generally.