Raven plays ball: situating "Indian Sports Days" within indigenous and colonial spaces in twentieth-century coastal British Columbia.
This article evaluates sport as played by Indigenous peoples in select coastal communities of British Columbia to illustrate how Indigenous teams were used to both challenge and reinforce separate sporting cultures and even styles of play. Along the province's southern coast, and in particular in the Vancouver area from the 1910s onwards, Indian Sports Days became important venues for Coast Salish (3) peoples such as the Squamish to (re)define perceived colonial spaces. On the north coast, competitions during Prince Rupert's Fair and Exhibition between the 1910S-1940S celebrated the athletic achievements of their Indigenous participants--among them Ts'msyen, Nisga'a, Gitxsan, and Haida--in segregated and integrated events. Yet Indigenous peoples should also be recognized for the contributions they made to Canadian sporting culture more broadly. Just as their non-Indigenous counterparts did, local athletic societies acted as social clubs and key identity-builders for coastal Indigenous villages in the early to mid twentieth century. On the one hand, these organizations were typical in small-town BC and community-based recreation, while on the other hand they were uniquely Indigenous manifestations.
On both the south and north coasts, we have found in the practice of physical culture what Keith Thor Carlson defined as the "change in continuity, the continuity in change." (4) Just as J.R. Miller challenged scholars to reconsider the history of Indigenous-non-Indigenous interactions as a nuanced, multidirectional, and often contradictory encounter, in this article we argue that sport created complex and multifaceted social spaces, reflecting both Indigenous and colonial agendas. Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens insists that Indigenous-Settler relations in Canada can only be understood by identifying the motivations of each group. (5) In Skyscrapers, and indeed in many of his works, Miller has always highlighted the degree to which Indigenous peoples actively participated in shaping relationships with Settlers, even as they shifted from being defined primarily by cooperation (contact to early nineteenth century), to coercion (nineteenth century), to finally confrontation (early twentieth century to the 1980s). Recently scholars have explored this complicated Indigenous-Settler relationship by writing about Indigenous athletes or the spectacle of Indigenous peoples "playing Indians" at fairs, stampedes, or exhibitions where sometimes even the chronological categorization crafted by Miller is upset. (6) Researchers interested in the growth of Indigenous sporting traditions reject models that gauge Native involvement in Western sports as evidence of assimilation, especially when Indigenous sport history is situated within Indigenous cultures. They reason instead that Native peoples' involvement reflected their cultural identities, historical realities, and value systems. (7) In the spaces that sport generated, cooperation, coercion, and confrontation occurred simultaneously.
For our analysis we draw upon sport historian Victoria Parachuk's concepts of racializing, racialized, and racist spaces--whereby space as a social construct is bounded in terms of limits and opportunities imposed by unequal "race" relations. (8) "A racialized space is created," according to Paracshak, "when the 'doing' of an operational race hierarchy [i.e. racializing] facilitates the (re)creation of racialized identities." Moreover, a "racist space is (reconstructed when participants or spectators are treated as the racialized 'other' within a sporting space." (9) Canadian "Indian" policy has played a large role in shaping how Indigenous sporting events have been part and parcel of the racialized space of colonialism itself. (10) Sports were used as strategies of containment by the dominant society notably influenced by gender assumptions about the maleness of playing sports. Yet sports never created the absolute division between Indigenous and Settler space in British Columbia that Cole Harris has identified in the physical geography imposed by colonial mapping and boundary making. (11) The social contexts of sporting events defied these primal lines, instead opening up opportunities for exchange and allowing for socio-cultural preservation even as they brought change to Indigenous practices. (12)
For centuries, sports have played a central role in the articulation of Indigenous identities and in community unification. Prior to contact, coastal people played traditional games at celebrations and communal events where they served to reflect cultural teachings and moral ethics, reinforced village pride, and helped maintain Indigenous socio-political relations. (13) Although not gender exclusive, some activities physically prepared community members with the necessary skills of their trade (e.g. as a hunter or a raider) and in this sense, sports had long been gendered by these functions. (14) Sport can be difficult to categorize when trying to get at the Indigenous experience. From the Indigenous vantage point, sports, athleticism, performance, or even entertainment were never conceived of as separate practices. Despite local variations, Indigenous peoples in general adopted a holistic approach to life, always seeking to find balance among its physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social aspects, and hence did "not distinguish between sport, recreation and physical activity." Indeed, "all of these activities [were] intertwined and integral to personal and community well-being." (15) Indigenous games of chance, memory, or luck (power) and competitions of skill and dexterity formed the basis of what we might identify as gaming and sporting culture, or rather more aptly, as the physical culture of Indigenous societies prior to Western intrusions. (16) Up and down the BC coast, Indigenous people played individual competitive gambling games that required guessing or a test of memory and incorporated sticks, bones, or dice. Versions of rugby, soccer, canoe racing, or stick and ball games such as lacrosse and forms of shinny were also popular, as were team games involving disks and hoops. (17) Shamans sometimes practiced their powers of "[predicting or manipulating luck, will, health, and emotions" to alter the outcome of sports, even those of Western origin. (18) When we see "traditional" games as manifestations of culture rather than merely as forms of leisure or entertainment, the reorientation of Western-style sports such as soccer or basketball to Indigenous cultural norms certainly fit within the holistic understanding of physical culture.
As non-Natives increasingly moved into coastal Indigenous territories during the nineteenth century to log and fish, or to conduct mission work, they brought with them numerous games and sports that unwittingly helped reinforce the nations' already rich history with sports. At the same time, Anglo-Canadian colonial agents introduced Western-style sporting activities among Indigenous peoples through athletic clubs, church organizations, and school physical fitness programs explicitly to support "civilizing projects" designed to remake Indigenous socio-cultural spaces into colonial ones. Sports complemented other efforts that involved the banning of Indigenous cultural and spiritual practices both through amendments to the Indian Act of 1876 and strong condemnation by church workers. In this way, physical cultural practices became sites of assimilation where, as Paraschak points out, non-Indigenous physical practices have been naturalized as the standard of "civility" whereas Indigenous activities have been re-defined as "savage" and "exotic" and subsequently banned or deemed to be entertainment. (19)
Although never explicitly connected with sports, this very argument was the foundation upon which Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens tracked the transition from cooperation and alliance to coercion and irrelevance--a shift that attacks on Indigenous cultural practices facilitated. "All these attempts at cultural remodelling," Miller argues, "also illustrated how the first step on the path of protection seemed always to lead to the depths of coercion." (20) The tools of compulsion are well known. Canadian policies: directly attacked Indigenous cultural practices; legislated Indigenous identities; reoriented gender relations; appropriated Indigenous lands and resources and forced the adoption of agricultural pursuits and capitalist wage labour; fostered conversion to Christianity, and extended the reach of residential schools. Simply put, colonial agents envisioned sports as yet another mechanism to accomplish these assimiliationist goals. Whether this worked as intended was quite another matter.
The Indian Sports Days held in Vancouver at Brockton Point in Stanley Park beginning in 1916 offer a unique case study of the intersection of these sporting, racializing, and racialized spaces. (21) Early in 1916, the British Columbia Aero Club approached sports capitalist and entrepreneur Con Jones with the idea of hosting a sports day celebration to raise funds for the training of military aviators. (22) Jones had a local reputation for organizing sporting events, notably lacrosse, and he proposed a Victoria Day event that would be an exclusive exhibition of BC "Indians" participating in various sports including athletics, lacrosse, soccer, and baseball. Canoe races were added the following year, along with dancing exhibitions and even a baby contest. (23) "Indian" performances, both athletic and cultural, would almost certainly have ensured the best possible attendance. Initially a one-day affair, organizers advertised the sport contests as the "Indian Provincial Championships" and while the team sports were limited to male participants, individual events (athletics) were not. Individual events included a seventy-five yard dash for girls aged thirteen and under, as well as separate races for unmarried and married women, and a fifty-yard dash for women over fifty. (24) Boys under the age of thirteen competed in a one hundred yard dash, and for adults, there were separate competitions for married men, unmarried men, and even a fifty-yard dash exclusive to chiefs. (25)
The concept of featuring Indigenous athletes before non-Indigenous audiences was not new in 1916 but rather followed in a long history of Indigenous competition and showmanship in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island, and indeed across the country. Non-Indigenous audiences had flocked to athletic demonstrations featuring Indigenous athletes--organized by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous promoters--such as canoe racing since the mid-nineteenth century to catch a glimpse at what they perceived to be a dying race and culture, thanks in no small measure to their belief in the "disappearing Indian myth." For many spectators, the presence of Indigenous peoples was perceived to be a sign of Western progress from the "savagery of Indians" to the "civility" of Western institutions. Similar to what Mary-Ellen Kelm points out in her examination of rodeos, in the minds of non-Indigenous spectators, the presence of Indigenous performers and athletes represented an imagined historical narrative of social evolution. (26) Take for example the Vancouver Victoria Day parade in 1920 that featured a "parade of nations" and included community members from the Coast Salish Squamish Nation. As the Vancouver Daily Province would report, the crowds lined the streets in anticipation of the parade "and were indicative of what Canada has become since the first hardy traders ventured to brave the wild lands of the warlike Indian tribes in pursuit of trade and commerce." (27)
By the late nineteenth century, Coast Salish athletes were experienced in performing for non-Indigenous audiences; horse and canoe racing exhibitions were among the most popular activities for settlers to attend. (28) Indeed, the annual Victoria Gorge Regatta featured hundreds of Indigenous canoe racers from all over the region. (29) A second site that offered non-Natives an opportunity to "observe" Indigenous peoples presented itself at holiday celebrations where Indigenous communities from both sides of the international border travelled to Victoria Day and Fourth of July festivities to participate in various sports and cultural performances. (30) For instance, Indigenous athletes from the surrounding Coast Salish communities competed in "Indian foot races" and were featured annually at the Victoria Day celebrations throughout the 1860s in New Westminster where they reportedly "afforded considerable amusement to the spectators." (31) Often, non-Native organizers invited Indigenous participants as a source of entertainment not only to compete in athletic events but to dance, sing, and sell crafts such as baskets and blankets to non-Native spectators who thirsted for so-called "authentic portrayals of Indian life." As proven by the popularity of Indigenous performers who played "Indian" at wild west shows, rodeos, and other venues of showmanship, "Indians" sold well and promoters such as Con Jones knew it. (32)
Quickly, the modest proposal for the inaugural Indian Sports Day grew into a highly anticipated event. Support came from a number of Vancouver officials, including the Chief of Police, Mayor, and Member of Parliament H.H. Stevens, while Coast Salish communities throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island responded overwhelmingly to the call to participate. (33) Beyond situating Indigenous athletes as an anthropological spectacle for non-Indigenous audiences, the Indian Sports Day worked as a racialized space and as a component of the larger socio-political agenda of the time--not unlike the one fostered by the Department of Indian Affairs. (34)
From the perspective of Indian Affairs, sport days and other holiday events were not simply an apolitical exhibition of athleticism or Indigenous showmanship but a means to carry and instill a set of political objectives concurrently sought out through other forms (i.e., residential and day schools, laws, missionaries, etc.). One of the early supporters of the initiative was the Dominion Inspector of Indian Agencies in Northern British Columbia Andrew Tyson. (35) According to the Vancouver Daily Province, Tyson "was particularly pleased with the idea of making a permanent annual feature of such an event, and believes it will do much good in bringing the different tribes together and in getting the white folks more familiarity in touch with the Indians and their customs [emphasis added]." (36) Tyson's reasoning for supporting the initiative comes as a surprise considering that the Department of Indian Affairs attempted to eliminate the potlatch (37) in the amendment of the Indian Act in 1884 and that it banned dancing in 1914, but it also demonstrates the complexity of these sporting spaces even within the perspectives of the Department. His statement appears to be an oddity in comparison to the views others held on the matter, including those of Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs Duncan Campbell Scott, who, like many officials, viewed these events as Western spaces rather than Indigenous ones and indeed as a way to eliminate Indigenous cultures rather than as a means of encouraging non-Indigenous peoples to become familiar with them.
At the outset of the Indian Sports Day initiative, Con Jones made it clear that the event was going to be a pageant of sports with "Indian dancing in aboriginal costume" as one of the main attractions for audiences. (38) However, it was brought to Jones's attention that the 1914 amendment to the Indian Act normally would outlaw his ability to promote such an exhibition and prevent any Indigenous person from performing in one. According to the amendment:
Any Indian in the province of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, or the Territories who participates in any Indian dance outside the bounds of his own reserve, or who participates in any show, exhibition, performance, stampede or pageant in aboriginal costume without the consent of the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs or his authorized Agent, and any person who induces or employs any Indian to take part in such dance, show, exhibition ... shall on summary of conviction be liable to a penalty not exceeding twenty-five dollars, or to imprisonment for one month, or to both penalty and imprisonment. (39)
After being made aware of the legal obstacles that the Indian Act posed to the organization of the Indian Sports Day, and specifically to the dancing portion of the schedule, Jones contacted Member of Parliament H.H. Stevens to assist in securing permission from the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa for the event to take place. (40) Days later Jones received word from New Westminster Indian Agent Peter Byrne that "he might proceed with his plans, the only limitation imposed being that no objectionable features should be introduced and that the dancing should be under the supervision of Constable Grant." (41)
From the perspective of a number of Indian Affairs employees, the power of sport to create a racializing and racialized space could be mobilized to serve their assimilationist goals. Likewise, residential schools across the country were using sports in their assimilationist strategies. (42) For some, such as Indian Affairs officials connected to the Indian Sports Days in Vancouver, sport might hold the key to getting Indigenous communities to give up the potlatch and with it, their identities. As the Vancouver Daily Sun would reflect in 1917 after the sports day was expanded into a three-day event:
The Indian sports to be held on May 22, 23, and 24 are being promoted with the encouragement of the officials of the [D]epartment of Indian [A]ffairs who wish to see competitions of strength and speed replacing the potlatch of byegone days. The modern aim is to induce the Indians to become members of the general community practising [sic] the same recreations as their paleface friends. They are being urged to devote themselves more to the cultivation of the soil--to become real producers--and it seems to be recognized that joining more fully in athletic sports is one of the steps towards slipping out of old grooves. (43)
The perception that sports days could be used in the assimilation process was not limited to the west coast as similar exhibitions across the country were common practice.
While some officials supported the sports day events (or similar activities) throughout the first half of the twentieth century, they also expressed concern. As Lisa Salem-Wiseman points out, the 1914 amendment to the Indian Act was made on the recommendation of Duncan Campbell Scott. Scott recognized the importance of sporting spaces in his Department's civilizing project but cautioned against using those spaces to encourage the continuation of Indigenous culture "when the whole administrative force of the Department is endeavouring to civilize them." (44) The amendment stemmed not from the fear of Indigenous peoples playing in sports, but rather from the fear that the "corruption" of those sports would occur through including Indigenous culture. As Scott would write in 1921, "[i]t has always been clear to me that the Indians must have some sort of recreation, and if our agents would endeavour to substitute reasonable amusements for this senseless drumming and dancing, it would be a great assistance." (45)
While various colonial agents viewed these sporting spaces as an opportunity to re-engineer, if not eliminate, Indigenous cultures, ceremonies, and identities, Indigenous peoples themselves also recognized these "contact-zones" for their own purposes. (46) In fact, there was a clear and active engagement from the Coast Salish communities who helped organize the Indian Sports Day and guaranteed a strong presence from the various communities. Instrumental in this process of helping Con Jones were a number of Coast Salish leaders including well-known Musqueam Elder James Point, Sechelt Chief Julius, and most notably, Squamish Chief Mathias Joe and Andy Pauli. (47) Paull, who would later become a prominent Indigenous rights activist and help to establish the Allied Tribes of British Columbia and the North American Indian Brotherhood, (48) formed his affection for sport in the Squamish Boarding School (also known as St. Paul's). Over the course of much of his adult life, he organized provincial championship baseball and lacrosse teams as well as brass bands. (49) Like many others, he would flip the intention of the residential school experience on its head, not only through political organizations, but also through the arrangement of these sport days.
The success of Indian Sports Day, both initially and in later years when it drew up to five thousand spectators and an estimated seven hundred Indigenous participants and supporters, (50) depended on planning sessions held by Chief Mathias Joe, Paull, and the Squamish community of Capilano. (51) For instance, during the first meeting in early May of 1916 Con Jones was reported to have met with over sixty interested participants from various Coast Salish communities where Chief Mathias Joe and Andy Paull had assured the Squamish's participation. The following day, Squamish community members travelled to Vancouver Island to invite other Coast Salish communities--likely the Cowichan Nation--with the hope of having "lacrosse and soccer teams lined up for competition before they return to Vancouver." (52) By the time the event took place, there was an overwhelming number of participants coming from the Cowichan, Musqueam, Squamish, Sto:lo, Snuneymuxw, and Sechelt Nations, among others. In subsequent years, Coast Salish nations from south of the imposed international border (such as the Lummi Nation) travelled north to compete in the competitions. (53)
There were a variety of reasons why Indigenous communities were excited by the prospect of participating in such an overtly racialized event--one that indeed was openly advertised as a "spectacle of Indians." Just as colonial agents recognized sport as a space that served racialized and racist objectives, Indigenous peoples themselves recognized the power of these spaces not only to subvert the colonial agenda but to exist on their own terms and on the periphery, if not right in the middle, of colonial spaces. (54) The prospect of renewing established inter-Coast Salish relations, both in sport and socio-political contexts, was a significant incentive for Indigenous communities to partake in the events. (55) For instance, as part of the inaugural event, the Squamish and Musqueam--two nations known to have well-established athletic and socio-cultural rivalries as well as strong ties (56)--considered combining their baseball teams into a single all-star team that could compete against a visiting Cowichan team from Vancouver Island. (57) However, after initially holding a game to select the team, it was announced that the Musqueam team had decided against the idea, preferring instead to compete in an elimination game against the Squamish to determine who would represent the mainland (the Musqueam team won). (58) The friendly but competitive rivalries pitted Coast Salish nations against each other in the pursuit of championship honours, trophies, and prize money.
The excitement of the competition and the possibility of renewing inter-Coast Salish rivalries were not the only things that drew Indigenous participants to the Indian Sports Day. The exhibition's showpiece--dancing--also attracted them. According to an article appearing in the Vancouver Daily Sun, "The Indians themselves are looking forward to this number [dancing] with more than usual interest and it promises to be one of the most popular items on the card." (59) Here an opportunity presented itself for community members to publicly undermine the Indian Act and other state-imposed forms of cultural suppression and in effect, assert a measure of control over the space. Other motivations were not so public but were equally important.
Arguably, the most significant factor further attracting Indigenous participants was the prize money offered. Certainly, much like Paige Raibmon points out in the case of the Kwakwaka'wakw, the winnings went towards continuing the potlatch. (60) The competitions advertised well over five hundred dollars in prize money in any given year, and as much as seven hundred dollars in 1917. (61) The lacrosse contest included a first prize of sixty dollars, a second prize of twenty-four dollars, while the tug-of-war offered fifty and twenty dollars respectively. The visiting Coast Salish from Vancouver Island made it well known in the Vancouver press that the cash prizes were a significant draw. (62) Not only were the Indigenous communities able to publicly showcase pieces of their culture such as dancing and appearing in regalia, both legally banned, but they were also, as Squamish elder Paits'mauk, Dave Jacobs, points out, a way by which Coast Salish communities were able to continue their potlatch traditions. "It was a way that our people could communicate with each other on different things," he explains, such as sharing the language and passing down inherited songs "... because you couldn't be jailed for gathering at a sport event but you could be jailed for gathering at a potlatch." (63)
Beyond the coastal communities surrounding Vancouver who engaged with Western sports in diverse ways, sports similarly became cherished yet contested Indigenous activities on the north coast of British Columbia. (64) Our second case study of the Indigenous experiences during Prince Rupert's annual Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition (a.k.a. "The Fair" or "The Carnival") sheds light on the ambiguous nature of racializing, racialized, and racist spaces of sporting culture. The Fair initially took place in mid-September, but from 1913 onward was held in the week following Labour Day until the mid-1940s. (65) It was very much a typical small-town Canadian Fall fair in that it gathered peoples from throughout the region for sport programs, entertainments, social events, contests, and parades. The Fair featured Indigenous brass bands from the region, exhibitions of agricultural produce, and examples of local industry. For displays of arts, handicrafts, and the work of school children, there were almost always separate "Indian" examples. Indigenous men's teams largely representing villages came to "neutral" grounds--that is the Settler dominated community of Prince Rupert within the heart of traditional Ts'msyen territory --where no Indigenous group or village was expected to "host." (66)
Sports at the Fair consisted of baseball, softball, football (soccer), boxing, rodeo/stampede, field games, various paddling and boat events, golf, badminton, and more games normally associated with holiday activities --e.g. tug-o-wars, three-legged races, etc. (67) The cost in bringing teams to Prince Rupert to compete was considerable for some. For example, the Gitxaala (Kitkatlas) claimed in 1920 it would cost them six hundred dollars to make good on their challenge against the Haisla Kitimaat soccer team, and even by train, teams reported spending upward of two hundred dollars to come to town in 1928. (68) There were considerable cash prizes for some competitions (e.g. the Indian launch boat race in 1919 came with a prize of fifty dollars), but the championship title and the accompanying silver cup--captured after winning two years in a row or three years overall --brought particular bragging rights. (69) Notably, the Nisga'a villages of Gingolx (Kincolith) and Laxgalts'ap (Greenville) had frequent matches at the Fair, offering them the opportunity to triumph in front of a much larger audience than if they had played in their respective home communities. Throughout the duration of the Prince Rupert Fair, teams from Haida, Nisga'a, Ts'msyen, Gitxaala, Gitxsan, Gitanyow, Haisla, and Wetsuwet'en Nations, and some Alaskan groups, particularly Ts'msyen from New Metlakatla, regularly participated in sports programs with upward of seven soccer teams, six baseball teams, and later three to four softball teams in any given year during the 1920s. (70)
The fact that the Fair's sports program regularly highlighted racial difference --whether in exhibition games against a local Indigenous team or within the specific annual "Indian football (soccer) or baseball" series--meant that Indigenous participants found themselves engaging a racialized space. In their sports coverage, local newspapers reinforced a range of historically and culturally constructed stereotypes that had long been applied to Indigenous peoples, most notably that they were naturally more athletic because of their alleged "primitiveness." In a different twist on the "civilized / savage" binary, coverage sometimes also over-emphasized Indigenous players' good sportsmanship and attentiveness to playing by the rules, with calls for local non-Indigenous teams to take notice. (71)
While segregated sporting events were certainly a feature, other sports events at the Fair did not draw racial lines, but were "open" competitions. Here it is worth considering what contributions Indigenous sports teams were making to north coast sporting life more generally. Ample evidence suggests that Indigenous contenders participated in these events and won, yet despite the significance of creating a racialized space to promote a non-Indigenous agenda, the race or culture of winners was not always a feature organizers then advertised. In fact, it was by the names of the winners alone that one could identify them as Indigenous persons, such as recognizing the name Edenshaw as a Haida name. Indigenous entrants were particularly prevalent in boxing competitions or field events. (72) In 1928 the seven Indigenous sports teams which included soccer, baseball, and lacrosse teams were the only ones at the Fair, except for the Prince Rupert lacrosse team whose annual competition with the Nisga'a Aiyansh lacrosse team (later identified as a "Y" team, for YMCA) became a staple of the Fair for the next decade. (73) By the 1930s there clearly were not enough non-Indigenous clubs or interest to sustain separate competitions so that the previous system of a separate "Indian" series was abandoned in favour of a single "Championship of Northern British Columbia" series for baseball, soccer (football), and softball. Indigenous teams frequently won these titles, and by all accounts games were well attended by Indigenous and non-Indigenous fans alike. Furthermore Indigenous women and children's experiences with the sports at the Fair were much different, in that apart from individual competitions, opportunities were far fewer than those for older Indigenous boys and men. This is not unlike what was being indoctrinated at residential schools when it came to the gender expectations for sports. Aside from the non-sporting exhibits, such as drawing, sewing, and carving, the competitions available for Indigenous women and children were not divided along racial categories but rather by age and martial status (e.g. the married woman's foot race or the children's boat race, etc.).
Not all of the history of the Fair should be viewed as evidence of good relations between Settlers and Indigenous peoples of the region or be taken to mean that Indigenous sports teams existed on equal footing with non-Indigenous ones. After all, while the Fair fostered inter-cultural social interaction, it was temporary and therefore exceptional. Although located on unceded Indigenous territory, Fair organizers and many non-Indigenous Fair-goers regarded Indigenous participants as visitors to the place. As early as 1918, an editorial in the Prince Rupert Daily News complained of a lack of adequate accommodations for Indigenous people at the Fair. "There have been a thousand or more Indians taking holiday in this city during the last few days. They have spent a lot of money here and have been welcomed by everyone. Unfortunately however, there has been so little accommodation here that some of them have fared rather badly in that respect. No rooms or hotel accommodation could be secured and in many cases in the daytime there has been no place where they could go when the weather was wet." (74) The editor went on to say that the city should make some provision for better overnight accommodation and to increase accessibility to places for them to go during inclement weather. One of the possible complications of making such spaces accessible to Indigenous people owed itself to the Indian Act, which barred "Indians" from all beer parlours or other places that sold liquor. Despite this prohibition, however, socializing with alcohol typified both Indigenous and non-Indigenous male Fair-going and sports-playing culture at this time.
Newspaper accounts from the Fair Week in early September further confirm the presence of unequal or outright discriminatory relations as they frequently referred to arrests for drunkenness, or alternatively, to local merchants who had been arrested for selling liquor to Indigenous people. The Indian Act prohibited the selling of alcohol to status "Indians" and this certainly shaped the social aspects of sporting competitions. (75) The lack of access to hotel rooms may refer to them being booked up or to outright discrimination of Indigenous clientele based on so-called "race." In 1930, a newspaper article lamented the crowded nature of the city, noting the difficulties visiting Indigenous Fair-goers experienced in finding accommodations. (76) The segregation of movie theatres and hotels in Prince Rupert certainly was characterized as widespread throughout this period and well into the 1950s and later. (77) Along with the Prince Rupert Fair providing examples of racialized spaces, therefore, we can also see instances of it being a potentially racist space for Indigenous participants.
While local journalists recounted the warm reception Indigenous sports teams received as they played in town, other actions taken toward those teams suggest a less than respectful and warm welcome. For instance, in the year that Indigenous teams constituted the only baseball and soccer teams at the Fair (1928), officials suddenly cancelled the popular Native baseball game--which had already been delayed by bad weather--when it was only half over, presumably so that the Stampede events that were scheduled to follow could begin on time. These, however, were cancelled when only six people turned up to watch them. (78) The "Indian football" finals had to be stopped due to poor weather and apparently could not be rescheduled. An editorial a few days later in the local newspaper lamented the failure of innovations like the rodeo over the "still better and more popular attractions" like baseball and soccer and alluded to problems with how the Indigenous events had been managed, saying, "The Indians were disappointed this year that neither series were finished." (79) One could speculate whether this would have happened to a local non-Indigenous team or not.
Police mistreatment of Indigenous peoples in Prince Rupert in the mid-twentieth century futher contributed to the production of racialized and racist spaces in the city. (80) Just prior to the opening of the Fair in 1934 representatives from seven Indigenous communities (representing Haida, Ts'msyen, Gitxaala, Gitxsan, and Nisga'a villages and regions) complained to the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce, City Commissioner, and the local Indian Agent, objecting to the ill treatment they experienced at the hands of provincial and federal police while they visited the city. They also published a letter of protest in the city newspaper. While the letter did not specify the nature of the harassment, it was very clear about the implications that might arise from it. "Every year this treatment is becoming worse and worse and it simply means that we will have to quit coming to your town altogether and as our trading with your merchants amounts to about five per cent of your annual sales, it is plain to see that the loss to your own will be considerable." (81) Interestingly they also framed their discontent using sporting language: "we ask you in the name of fairness and sportsmanship to take this matter up with the proper authorities and see that we are given a fair deal so we can come into town, enjoy the entertainment supplied, and feel that our visit is appreciated ..." (82)
Finally, when Indigenous sports teams visited Prince Rupert to participate in the Fair, they did more than just play sports. They created considerable economic opportunities for local businesses, conducted political meetings (for example, the Native Fishermen's Association met during the Fair, as did the Allied Tribes), and held social events such as dances and school reunions. In addition, sometimes Indigenous Christians took over local church services. (83) The fact that sport organizations at the village level often had hereditary leaders meant that travelling away to engage with Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents from other places, may have been understood as a hereditary prerogative. It certainly facilitated organizing for rights and land claims. Local Indigenous contexts, quite apart from Settler agendas, had considerable influence on what sporting events at the Fair may have meant to the regional Indigenous communities. Indeed, an examination of the forms and functions of sports organizations at the village level clearly illustrates this.
Since the late-nineteenth century, Indigenous peoples had used denominational affiliation and membership in various church groups (temperance organizations, women's auxiliaries, bible classes, youth fellowships) to continue important social divisions. Such groups "offered new ways to express 'traditional' social ideals and practices at the village level, even in the newly formed Christian settlements." (84) Fraternal orders, social clubs, educational associations, and music societies throughout the north coast region often competed for the participation of hereditary chiefs as members and honorary presidents. (85) This was even true of some explicitly Christian groups such as the Methodist, and later United Church, Band of Christian Workers and Epworth Leagues as well as of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). Village athletic clubs assumed, at least in part, many of the social duties and functions formerly performed by the lineage group, particularly with regard to funeral arrangements following the death of a member or relative. (86)
The Ts'msyen village of Lax Kw'alaams (Port Simpson) proves to be an intriguing case. In the twentieth century the community had two competing athletic clubs that acted very much as social clubs--the Port Simpson Athletic Club (PSAC) and the Young Peoples' Educational Association (YPEA). (87) The PSAC had its origins as a Methodist Church youth group that split from the church in 1914. "They solicited new members, charged dues, and raised enough funds to build a club hall. When the new club organized the members elected among other officers, a president and an honorary president, and decided that the latter office should always be filled by a chief." (88) William Beynon, the Ts'msyen ethnographer and hereditary chief, attributed the PSAC's severing of ties from the church specifically related to the disempowering of hereditary chiefs on the village council by making them only "honorary councilors." (89) Well into the 1930s, most of the presidents of the PSAC had also been hereditary chiefs, and the so-called elections for officers translated in practice to honourary presidencies for chiefs. (90)
The rival sports club was the Young Peoples Educational Association (YPEA), and families in the village belonged to one organization or the other, but not both. The YPEA was first a private school also linked to the Methodist Church before becoming more of a fraternal organization. It "built a large auditorium with a dance floor, facilities for basketball and badminton and a stage. Feasts and other community affairs are held in both club halls and each club hosted their own annual gatherings (such as the YPEA's "Snowball Frolic" and the PSAC's "Garden Party"). (91) Often these two teams would compete to see who would send baseball or soccer players to the Prince Rupert Fair. (92) Just as Coast Salish communities had seen sporting events reinforce established socio-political rivalries among them, so too did north coast communities find their rivalries, in this case along religious lines, extending to the playing fields.
As with other fraternal or social clubs in small-town Canada at this time, the PSAC and the YPEA often aided their members' families with funeral arrangements. What is uniquely Ts'msyen here, however, was that this assistance was provided as though the club itself had a place within a traditional house (waap) or lineage kinship group. (93) Membership in the PSAC or the YPEA, together with the presence of hereditary chiefs in the clubs, ensured that individuals would receive proper funerals and burials even when they had neither maternal nor paternal relatives--the lineage group which traditionally would have performed the funeral services in earlier times. (94) There was also considerable rivalry between these clubs not merely on the sports field and in social events, but also in terms of local government, with the YPEA and the PSAC each seeking to dominate the membership of the council and leadership of it. Because the rival sports clubs represented different hereditary factions within the community, they had a significant impact on even the forms of band councils imposed by the Indian Act, in that they showed the continuance of older forms of political leadership (i.e. hereditary rather than elected leaders) under the seemingly Western guise of an athletic club. Lax Kw'alaams was not alone in this respect--a number of Nisga'a villages along the Nass River have long had athletic guilds and even YMCAs, which may or may not have ever had an official affiliation with the Canadian YMCA. (95)
Preparations for playing Western-style sports similarly illustrated continuities with older practices. Over the winter of 1933-34 at Lax Kw'alaams, a strong rivalry between competing Indigenous basketball teams had become desperate and players enlisted non-human aid to seek victory. A Gitxsan team from the Upper Skeena river area employed a swansx halaayt (shaman), who at midnight allegedly immersed the basketball to be used in the game in a bath of Indian hellebore (an often toxic, poisonous plant used by Indigenous peoples in the region as a local anaesthetic). He also called upon his guardian helpers to place a power on the Gitxsan team's net intended to brush aside the ball to prevent scoring by the local Lax Kw'alaams team. (96) In the end, the swansx halaayt's abilities failed him and the Gitxsan lost the game. The swansx halaayt in question was a Ts'msyen man from Lax Kw'alaams, Niss-gane 's (Lewis Gray), who had formed a friendly relationship with those Gitxsan players from his years of mission work among them for the Methodist Church and later United Church of Canada. Gray's powers as a swansx halaayt would work in tandem with his conversion to Christianity and career as a missionary, and he continued to practice both faiths throughout his life. Such an episode is quite telling of the complex cultural, sporting, and spiritual lives on BC's north coast during the last century.
At the end of Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens, J.R. Miller writes that" [t]he most obvious conclusion about the history of Indian-white relations in Canada is that the motives the two parties have had for making contact have usually shaped their interaction." (97) Even when colonialism itself severely limited those interactions, and even when policies sought to subordinate Indigenous peoples to the will of the Settlers, there was never total subjugation. (98) On the surface, the integration of Western sports into Indigenous societies can mistakenly be seen as absorption of Indigenous peoples into the traditions, gendered assumptions, and practices of physical culture. by the dominant society. However, a closer examination of sport--one attentive to Indigenous motivations reveals that despite the Settlers' implicit and purposeful attempts to introduce sports as a means to assimilate them, Indigenous communities up and down the coast of British Columbia would understand sports from the vantage points of their own histories, epistemologies, and modern identities. Whether through sports days, fairs, or clubs, Indigenous communities began to increase their participation in new sporting venues--from the desegregated soccer leagues formed by the Coast Salish Tla'amin Nation in the 1920s and 30s, (99) to the new all-indigenous tournaments such as the All-Native Basketball Tournament held annually in Prince Rupert to this day. Sport was the "change in continuity, the continuity in change" for Indigenous communities. (100) On many levels, the intent of introducing sports days was part of a set of larger socio-political objectives, but here again the trickster appears. While new games, different rules of play, and the novelty of non-Indigenous competition all shaped how Indigenous peoples viewed and practiced sports, these very things also became infused with the cultures, epistemologies, rivalries, and socio-political realities of Indigenous nations. Fully embedded in the nexus of Indigenous-Settler relations, sport and physical culture took shape in a space that was simultaneously racializing, racialized, racist, and Indigenous.
ALLAN DOWNEY is Dakelh, a member of the Nak'azdli First Nation, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University. His research has focused on the history of lacrosse in Indigenous communities as an aspect of Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations and Indigenous identity formation, soon to be published by UBC Press.
SUSAN NEYLAN is an Associate Professor of History at Wilfrid Laurier University. Author of The Heavens are Changing and co-editor of New Histories for Old, her research interests encompass the complex histories of Indigenous-Church relations on British Columbia's north coast. Presently she is working on a book manuscript based on how these relations developed over the course of the twentieth century.
(1) Some of the research for this paper was facilitated by funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors kindly thank the expertise and time of interviewees, and also the generous feedback of our three anonymous reviewers.
(2) All Indigenous languages have specific terms for the Trickster and each community has its own stories about them. Raven is one such example from coastal British Columbia. As Sto:lo scholar Jo-ann Archibald notes, "Trickster is a transformer figure, one whose transformations often use humour, satire, self-mocking, and absurdity to carry good lessons ... Trickster often gets into trouble by ignoring cultural rules and practices or by giving sway to negative aspects of 'humanness,' such as vanity, greed, selfishness, and foolishness. Trickster seems to learn lessons the hard way and sometimes not at all. At the same time, Trickster has the ability to do good things for others and is sometimes like a powerful spiritual being and given much respect." Jo-ann Archibald, Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit (Vancouver, 2008), p. 5. For the contemporary "trickster turn" in literature, see Deanna Redder and Linda M. Morra (eds.), Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations (Waterloo, 2010).
(3) The anthropological term "Coast Salish" is used for the collective coastal Indigenous nations that share common histories, identities, and traditions in present day British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. See Keith Thor Carlson, The Power of Place, the Problem of Time: Aboriginal Identity and Historical Consciousness in the Cauldron of Colonialism (Toronto, 2010); Wayne Suttles, Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 7, "The Northwest Coast" (Washington, 1990).
(4) Carlson, The Power of Place, p. 80.
(5) J.R. Miller, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A History of Indian-White Relations in Canada (3rd ed., Toronto, 2000 [rev. ed., 1991, 1st ed., 1989]).
(6) Jonathan Clapperton, "Naturalizing Race Relations: Conservation, Colonialism, and Spectacle at the Banff Indian Days," Canadian Historical Review, 94 (September 2013), pp. 349-379; Philip Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven, 1998); idem, Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence, 2004); Mary-Ellen Kelm, "Riding into Place: Contact Zones, Rodeo, and Hybridity in the Canadian West, 1900-1970," Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 18 (2007), pp. 107-32; Courtney W. Mason, "The Construction of Banff as a 'Natural' Environment: Sporting Festivals, Tourism, and Representations of Aboriginal Peoples," Journal of Sport History, 35 (Summer 2008), pp. 221-39; Christine M. O'Bonsawin, "Spectacles, Policy, and Social Memory: Images of Canadian Indians at World's Fairs and Olympic Games" (PhD diss., University of Western Ontario, 2006); Paige Raibmon, Authentic Indians: Episodes of Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast (Durham, 2005).
(7) Model studies include Nancy B. Bouchier, For the Love of the Game: Amateur Sport in Small-Town Ontario, 1838-1895 (Montreal & Kingston, 2003); Frank Cosentino, Afros, Indigenous, and Amateur Sport in Pre-World War One Canada, Canadian Historical Association, Canada's Ethnic Group Series, Booklet No. 26 (Ottawa, 1998); Janice Forsyth and Audrey R. Giles (eds.), Indigenous Peoples and Sport in Canada: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Issues (Vancouver, 2013); Colin Howell, Blood, Sweat, and Cheers: Sport and the Making of Modern Canada (Toronto, 2001); Richard C. King (ed.), Native Athletes in Sport and Society: A Reader (Lincoln, 2005); Alan Metcalfe, Canada Learns to Play: The Emergence of Organized Sport, 1807-1914 (Toronto, 1987); Don Morrow, et. al., A Concise History of Sport in Canada (Toronto, 1989); Joseph B. Oxendine, American Indian Sports Heritage (Champaign, 1998); Victoria Paraschak, "Native Sport History: Pitfalls and Promise," Canadian Journal of History of Sport 20 (May 1989), pp. 57-68.
(8) Victoria Paraschak, "Indigenous Peoples and the Construction of Canadian Sport Policy," in Forsyth and Giles (eds.), Indigenous Peoples and Sport in Canada, pp. 98-99.
(9) Ibid. A parallel exploration of how difference is reinforced through intercultural sports events employs the term "ethnic boundary maintenance," in Alyce Taylor Cheska, "Sport as Ethnic Boundary Maintenance: A Case of the American Indian," International Review for the Sociology of Sport 19 (1984), pp. 241-57.
(10) Janice Forsyth, "The Indian Act and the (Re)shaping of Canadian Aboriginal Sporting Practices," International Journal of Canadian Studies 35 (2007), pp. 95-111.
(11) Cole Harris, Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in British Columbia (Vancouver, 2002).
(12) John Sutton Lutz makes a similar observation about economies in BC. John Sutton Lutz, Makuk: A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations (Vancouver, 2008).
(13) Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands (Vancouver, 1984), pp. 45-46.
(14) Murray and Nancy Mitchell, interview by Allan Downey, Kasia Zimmerman, and Tylor Richards, 29 June, 2012, audio recording, Sliammon, BC.
(15) Canadian Heritage, Sport Canada's Policy on Indigenous Peoples' Participation in Sport (Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services of Canada, 2005), p. 3 quoted in Victoria Paraschak, "Indigenous Peoples and the Construction of Canadian Sport Policy," in Forsyth and Giles, eds., Indigenous Peoples and Sport in Canada, p. 115.
(16) Stewart Culin provides a summary of much of the ethnographic literature about Indigenous games in North America. Stewart Culin, "Game of the North American Indians," in Twenty-Fourth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, 1902-1903 (New York, repr., 1975).
(17) The Squamish Nation, for instance, had a game comparable to modern lacrosse known as K'exwa7 (or alternatively Sk'exwa7) and the Tla'amin Nation had a rolling stone-disk game in which they attempted to capture the disk with sticks or spears as it rolled down a hillside. "Our Culture--'Lacrosse,'" Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw (Squamish Nation), http://www. squamish.net/about-us/our-culture/, accessed 6 May 2015. Culin, "Game of the North American Indians," pp. 562, 573; Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands (Vancouver, 1984), pp. 45-46; Murray and Nancy Mitchell, interview by Allan Downey, Kasia Zimmerman, and Tylor Richards, 29 June 2012, audio recording, Sliammon, BC.
(18) For instance, for the Ts'msyen context, see Marie-Francoise Guedon, "Tsimshian Shamanic Images," in Margaret Seguin [Anderson] (ed.), The Tsimshian: Images from the Past; Views for the Present (Vancouver, 1984), p. 183.
(19) Victoria Paraschak, '"Reasonable Amusements': Connecting the Strands of Physical Culture in Native Lives," Sports History Review 29 (1998), pp. 121-31; see also Janice Forsyth, "The Indian Act and the (Re)Shaping of Canadian Aboriginal Sport Practices," p. 99.
(20) Miller, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens, 3rd ed., p. 263.
(21) This section builds on the analysis that first appeared in Allan Downey, "The Creator's Game: Aboriginal Racialized Identities in Canada's Colonial Age, 1867-1990" (PhD diss., Wilfrid Laurier University, 2014). While the Victoria Day Indian Sports Days had a limited life span, c. 1916-1919, and would later be organized during Labour Day (1920) or on various weekends, this particular event provides a glimpse of what was occurring elsewhere in the province and across the country. Also, holiday sport exhibitions remained popular attractions after this time period with Indigenous communities, including Coast Salish nations, continuing to organize sports days in the following decades.
(22) Vancouver Daily Province, 2 May 1916. In 1919, the profits raised from the event, less the cash prizes offered, went toward the Returned Soldiers Club. Vancouver Daily Province, 14 May 1919.
(23) Vancouver Daily Province, 2 May 1916.
(24) Vancouver Daily Province, 20 May 1916.
(26) Mary-Ellen Kelm, A Wilder West: Rodeo in Western Canada (Vancouver, 2011), p. 4
(27) Vancouver Daily Province, 20 May 1920.
(28) Paige Raibmon, Authentic Indians: Episodes of Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast (Durham, 2005), pp. 107-8.
(29) Royal BC Museum and VideoWave Media, "Canoe Racing on the Gorge Waterway," text embedded in "Pre-Park" section of the website "Thunderbird Park: Place of Cultural Sharing" under "Canoes," http://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/exhibits/third-park/html/pre/ canoes.htm, accessed 5 October 2015.
(30) Raibmon, Authentic Indians, p. 108.
(31) British Columbian, 26 May 1865. See also Carlson, The Power of Place, the Problem of Time, pp. 253-79.
(32) Vancouver Daily Province, 20 May 1916.
(33) For examples, see Vancouver Daily Province, 6 May 1916 and 17 May 1917.
(34) For more see Forsyth, "The Indian Act and the (Re)shaping of Canadian Aboriginal Sport Practices" pp. 95-111. For a later period, see Janice Forsyth and Michael Heine, "'A Higher Degree of Social Organization': Jan Eisenhardt and Canadian Aboriginal Sport Policy in the 1950s," Journal of Sport History 35 (Summer 2008), pp. 261-77.
(35) Vancouver Daily Province 6 May 1916. See also Dominion of Canada, William James Roche, Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 31st, March, 1917 (Ottawa, 1916).
(36) Vancouver Daily Province, 6 May 1916.
(37) In the words of J.R. Miller, "this important feasting ritual had several social purposes. It was employed as a rite of passage, as in marking the coming of age and taking of a name of the young. It was used to reinforce a person's status or to challenge the higher status of another. And the potlatch could even be used to overawe neighbouring villages.... The means in each case was the same: distribution of vast quantities of food and gifts as monumental feasts.... The potlatch was deservedly called a form of 'fighting with property'; but it was also an ingenious method for registering important events, reordering status relationships within a group and redistributing material wealth." Miller, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens, 3rd ed., p. 179.
(38) Vancouver Daily Sun, 23 May 1916; Downey, "The Creator's Game," p. 159.
(39) Government of Canada, An Act to Amend the Indian Act, S.C. 1914, 4 & 5, Geo. V, c.35, s.8; quoted in Keith D. Smith, Strange Visitors: Documents in Indigenous-Settler Relations in Canada from 1876 (Toronto, 2014), p. 97.
(40) Vancouver Daily Sun, 23 May 1916.
(41) Ibid. Quotation also appears in Downey, "The Creator's Game," p. 162.
(42) This admittedly varied by school district until that pursuit became official government policy in 1949. For the Indigenous experience with sports at residential schools or US boarding schools, see John Bloom, To Show What an Indian Can Do: Sports at Native American Boarding Schools (Minneapolis, 2000); Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School, Basketball Champions of the World (Norman, 2008); Sarah F. Fields, "Representations of Sport in the Indian School Journal, 1906-1913," Journal of Sport History 35 (Summer 2008), pp. 241-259; and Janice Forsyth, "Bodies of Meaning: Sports and Games at Canadian Residential Schools," in Forsyth and Giles (eds.), Aboriginal Peoples and Sport in Canada, pp. 15-34.
(43) Vancouver Daily Sun, 7 May 1917. Quotation also appears in Downey, "The Creator's Game," p. 162.
(44) Letter from D.C. Scott to R.B. Bennett, 17 July 1916. RG10, vol. 3821, file 60, 511-515 as quoted in Lisa Salem-Wiseman, "'Verily, The White Man's Ways Were The Best': Duncan Campbell Scott, Native Culture, and Assimilation," Studies in Canadian Literature/Etudes en litterature canadienne 21.1(1996), p. 122.
(45) Quoted in Salem-Wiseman, "'Verily, The White Man's Ways Were The Best,"' p. 122.
(46) Kelm, "Riding into Place," pp. 107-32.
(47) Chief Simon Baker, nephew of Chief Mathias Joe, remembers both Chief Mathias Joe and Andy Paull as being instrumental in organizing the Indian Sports Days and travelling to the events as a young boy. Verna J. Kirkness, Khot-La-Cha: The Autobiography of Chief Simon Baker (Vancouver, 1994), p. 13.
(48) See Herbert Francis Dunlop, Andy Paull: As I knew Him and Understood His Times (Vancouver, 1989); Palmer Patterson, "Andrew Paull and Canadian Indian Resurgence" (PhD diss., University of Washington, 1962); F.R. Brendan Edwards, "I have lots of help behind me, lots of books, to convince you:' Andrew Paull and the Value of Literacy in English," BC Studies 164 (Winter 2009), pp. 7-30.
(49) Patterson, "Andrew Paull and Canadian Indian Resurgence," p. 225.
(50) Vancouver Daily Sun, 23, 24 and 25 May 1917; and Vancouver Daily Province, 25 May 1917.
(51) Vancouver Daily Province, 8 May 1916.
(53) Vancouver Daily Province, 23 May 1919.
(54) Michael Robidoux, Stickhandling Through the Margins: First Nations Hockey in Canada (Toronto, 2012), p. 12.
(55) Susan Roy, "Performing Musqueam Culture and History at British Columbia's 1966 Centennial Celebrations," BC Studies 135 (Autumn 2002), p. 68.
(56) Susan Roy, These Mysterious People: Shaping History and Archaeology in a Northwest Community (Montreal and Kingston, 2010), p. 152.
(57) Vancouver Daily Province, 15 May 1916.
(58) Vancouver Daily Province, 17 May 1916.
(59) Vancouver Daily Sun, 23 May 1916.
(60) Vancouver Daily Province, 4 May 1916.
(61) Vancouver Daily Province, 4 May 1916; Vancouver Daily Sun, 7 May 1917; Vancouver Daily Province, 24 May 1918.
(62) Vancouver Daily Sun, 7 May 1917.
(63) Paits'mauk (Dave Jacobs) and Sla'wiya (Andrea Jacobs), interview by Allan Downey, 26 June 2011, audio recording and transcript, Capilano, BC. A similar version is quoted in Downey, "The Creator's Game," p. 160.
(64) Museum of Northern British Columbia, "Sports and Recreation History," unpublished mss., accession no. 988-36 M.S. #1407, p. 47. Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives.
(65) While some sources are ambiguous about the final year of the Fair, it looks to be 1941. Port Days (a precursor to present-day Prince Rupert's Seafest) began in late August in 1938 and continued the traditions of Indigenous peoples gathering in late summer in Prince Rupert to compete in sporting competitions.
(66) Such teams may have been labeled as village teams, but as in the case of Lax Kw'alaams/Port Simpson, the team who competed at the Fair was usually either made up of one athletic club or another, which is representative of the reserve-based rivalry between the Young Peoples' Educational Association (YPEA) and the Port Simpson Athletic Club (PSAC).
(67) New recreational grounds for field sports opened on Acropolis Hill in time for Victoria Day, 1915. Prince Rupert Daily News, 18 May 1915.
(68) Prince Rupert Daily News, 22 September 1920 and 15 September 1928.
(69) Prince Rupert Daily News, 16 September 1919.
(70) Kitimaat, Aiyansh, Kispiox, Port Simpson (both YPEA and PSAC teams), Massett, Port Essington, Gitxaafa (Kitkatla), Gitlakdamiks, Greenville, Kincolith, Kitwanga, Gitanyow (Kitwancool), Skeena Crossing, Hazelton (Gitxsan and possibly Wetsuwet'en), and once in 1926 a baseball team from Vancouver Island.
(71) For an excellent example of such discourse centred on the exploits of Lax Kw'alaams/Port Simpson teams, see Bill Plommer, "Port Simpson Indians, Great in Wars of the Past, Take up Sports and Become Invincible, the New Westminster of the 'North of 53' in their Athletic Supremacy," 23 April 1932 [specific newspaper title not indicated but likely a Lower Mainland one], British Columbia Archives Vertical Files, D-19, Reel #94, File No. 1000.
(72) For a good example of reporting on how boxing matches, including headliners, were integrated rather than racially segregated, see Prince Rupert Daily News, 3 July 1934.
(73) Prince Rupert Daily News, 15 Sept 1928.
(74) Prince Rupert Daily News, 21 September 1918.
(75) For example, the Indian Act was explicitly referenced in an article on a local soft drink vendor who had been selling 2% cider to Indigenous customers. Prince Rupert Daily News, 18 September 1918.
(76) Prince Rupert Daily News, 4 September 1930.
(77) Speaking to anthropologist Philip Drucker in 1953, William Beynon referred to such examples of discrimination as commonplace in Prince Rupert. Informant: William Beynon, Philip Drucker Fieldnotes, Box 1, Pt. 2, Vol. 2: Field notebooks, BC (1953), originals in National Anthropological Archives, microfilm consulted, MS-0870 in British Columbia Archives, Victoria, BC.
(78) Prince Rupert Daily News, 15 September 1928.
(79) Prince Rupert Daily News, 17 September 1928.
(80) The most notorious examples of this phenomenon occurred in Prince Rupert in August of 1958 in the so-called "Centennial Riot," a racially charged incident that embroiled some 1,000 people including police who used tear-gas, fire fighters who turned water hoses on the crowd, and the city's mayor, who read the riot act. Indigenous people were disproportionately arrested for the disturbance relative to others. Robert A. Campbell, "A 'Fantastic Rigmarole:' Deregulating Aboriginal Drinking in British Columbia, 1945-62," BC Studies 141 (Spring 2004), pp. 81-104. Founders of the All-Native Basketball tournament reported (initially in 1947) racial tensions in Prince Rupert in the early years of the tournament, and how the All-Native came to "soften" such frictions. Museum of Northern British Columbia, "Sports and Recreation History," unpublished mss., accession no. 988-36 M.S. #1407, pp. 8, 64, 87. Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives.
(81) The "Indian Protest" was signed by J. Bryant, Port Simpson; C.P. Ryan, Metlakatla; C.P. Ryan, Port Essington; Mason Brown, Kitkatla; C.K. Lieson, Nass River; M.W. Jones, Skeena Crossing; D. Edenshaw, New Massett, Prince Rupert Daily News, 23 August 1934.
(83) For instance, political meetings of the Allied Tribes and Peter Kelly occurred in 1922, while the discussion of Indigenous land rights occurred in 1925. See Prince Rupert Daily Nexus, 13 & 15 September 1922 and 15 September 1925. Former pupils of Coqualeetza Industrial School seemed to have reunions during the Fair at least in the early 1920s (see Prince Rupert Daily News, 20 September 1919 and 24 September 1920) and current pupils participated in the Fair's "Indian Exhibit" (see especially Prince Rupert Daily News, 23 September 1920). Evening dances for Indigenous patrons in halls or even cafes were staples of the Fair, and the practice of visiting Indigenous Christians to take over the services and participate as the congregation for local denominations was commonplace during the Fair or later Port Days (see Prince Rupert Daily News, 20 Sept 1920, 17 Sept 1923, and 21 Aug 1929).
(84) Susan Neylan, The Heavens are Changing: Nineteenth-Century Protestant Missions and Tsimshian Christianity (Montreal & Kingston, 2003), p. 251.
(85) Fieldwork conducted in the 1930s and 1950s on the north coast provides notable insights into the endurance and breadth such organizations had, whether they were social groups or athletic clubs. Viola Garfield, Tsimshian Clan and Society, University of Washington Publications in Anthropology 7.3 (Seattle, 1939), p. 318.
(86) Garfield, Tsimshian Clan and Society, pp. 252, 318.
(87) Even today, the legacy of these the PSAC and YPEA organizations endures and is featured on the community's website. Indigenous Community of Lax Kwa'laams, "The People-Sportsmen" [online] http://www.laxkwalaams.ca/ community/?page=people, accessed 15 May 2013.
(88) Garfield, Tsimshian Clan and Society, p. 319.
(89) Viola Garfield Papers, University of Washington Library and Special Collections, Accession No. 2027-72-75, Box 8, Vol. 10, Viola Garfield Field Notebooks, Port Simpson, 1934.
(90) Garfield, Tsimshian Clan and Society, p. 319.
(91) Ibid., 320. The annual Snowball Frolic and Garden Party was remembered fondly and mentioned numerous times during interviews conducted by Susan Neylan, Melissa Meyer, and Caroline Dudoward-Garay in July-Aug 2003 at Lax Kw'alaams.
(92) Haida teams from Massett and Skidegate often did the same and sent only a single team from the island to the Prince Rupert Fair.
(93) The foundational social unit of the Ts'msyen is the walp or waap or "house," which encompasses a membership, territory, and repository. It refers to the kinship (matrilineal) group which the Ts'msyen identify as family, in addition to the physical building in which the group resides. See Garfield, Tsimshian Clan and Society, p. 174; Jay Miller, Tsimshian Culture: A Light Through the Ages (Lincoln, 1997), pp. 45-54; and Neylan, The Heavens are Changing, pp. 38-39.
(94) Garfield, Tsimshian Clan and Society, pp. 320-21. Metlakatla had the Young Men's Benevolent Association renamed the Metlakatla Mutual Recreational Association (mmra). The association was open to men and women, but according to one informant was primarily for young men in the village. Young male members assisted in digging graves and acting as pallbearers. Much like Lax Kw'alaams' YPEA or PSAC, the mmra gave concerts, had a band, an orchestra, and basketball teams. It also functioned as a social club, hosting dances and shows. Informants: William Leask, C.P. Ryan, and Matthew Leighton, Philip Drucker Fieldnotes, Box 1, Pt. 2, Vol. 2: Field notebooks, BC (1953).
(95) Laxgalts'ap (Greenville) had an Athletic Guild and Women's Auxiliary of the Athletic Guild, while Gingolx (Kincolith) called its athletic club the Sons of Kincolith. Informant: Mr. Johnson Russ, Philip Drucker Fieldnotes, Box 1, Pt. 2, Vol. 2: Field notebooks, BC (1953), and "Greenville" in Box 2, Pt. 6: History of Cooperative Organizations in BC villages, typescript, pp. 7,19; originals in National Anthropological Archives, microfilm consulted MS-0870 in British Columbia Archives, Victoria, BC.
(96) Informant: William Beynon (as an aside in the middle of notes from informant William Smith, 31 Aug 1934), Viola Garfield Papers, University of Washington Library and Special Collections, Accession No. 2027-72-75, Box 8, Vol. 10, p. 31.
(97) Miller, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens, 3rd ed., p. 393.
(98) Lutz, Makuk, p. 301.
(99) Les Adams, interview by Allan Downey and Kasia Zimmerman, 25 June 2012, audio recording, Sliammon, BC; "Football," Powell River Digester, November 1924, vol. III, no. XI, p. 10.
(100) Carlson, The Power of Place, the Problem of Time, p. 80.
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|Author:||Downey, Allan; Neylan, Susan|
|Publication:||Canadian Journal of History|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2015|
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