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The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation Building in Western Canada to 1915.

The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation Building in Western Canada to 1915 by Sarah Carter. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 396 pp, illus., soft cover, $34.95.

Before white settlement, Native peoples in western Canada were polygamous, yet they were not alone. As Carter states, "the Christian model of lifelong monogamous marriage was not a dominant world view until the late nineteenth century." (p.3)

Carter's study of Native people is excellent and reveals her vast knowledge of the topic. She shows how missionaries tried to mould Indians into the traditional Christian marriage and, after treaty, how the government enshrined such marriages into their status and other legal documents.

The author provides appropriate examples of how Indian Department regulations negatively affected Native women in such matters as arranged marriages, requiring permission to marry, a ban on divorce, and threat of the loss of legal status.

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Publication:Alberta History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:147
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