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Iroquois in the West.

by Jean Barman. McGill - Queen's University Press, 314 pp., illus., soft cover, $29.95.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Iroquois from eastern Canada were brought to the West as hunters and employees of the fur trade. Many stayed forming unique colonies throughout the West. They ended up in areas of Montana Territory, British Columbia & Washington, the American West, and Alberta.

To this reviewer, the Alberta group is the most interesting. They settled near the Hudson's Bay post of Jasper House where they intermarried with local Crees and developed a unique life in the woodland region. In the early twentieth century when a national park and a local forest reserve were created in the area that had been so friendly to them suddenly, forcing the Iroquois to move north to Grande Cache, Smoky River, and the Peace River region.

Considered "outsiders," the group was not welcomed by government officials and in 1917 orders were sent out to force them out of the forestry reserve. According to instructions, officials were ordered "to seize them by the necks and land them outside the reserve." However, as tourism in the area was developed, Iroquois guides and outfitters became an essential part of the local economy.

For more than two centuries, the Iroquois in the Jasper area have continue to maintain their freedom and their identity. According to the author, "Iroquois in the West have navigated, and sometimes crossed, the Indigenous-white divide. In doing so, they have continued to be their own selves, their presence across time and place sufficiently noticed by others to make it possible, drawing on slivers and stories from the shadows of the past, to tell their story."

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Publication:Alberta History
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2020
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