Living Rhythms: Lessons in Aboriginal Economic Resilience and Vision


199 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2753-2
DDC 330.089'97071




Reviewed by Joan A. Lovisek

Joan Lovisek, Ph.D., is a consulting anthropologist and ethnohistorian
in British Columbia.


Wanda Wuttunee, an associate professor in Native Studies at the
University of Manitoba, has investigated how various Aboriginal
communities and organizations in Western Canada have managed economic
development. She introduces the subject by contrasting Western
positivist scientific views with the Aboriginal view, which is tied to
spiritual relationships to land. She considers environmentalism and
sustainable development as viable approaches that can serve the
Aboriginal perspective of a holistic approach.

Much of the research for the book was obtained from case studies in
various Aboriginal communities and organizations in Western Canada.
Because it is her intention to concentrate only on the positive elements
of Aboriginal administrative structures and economic projects, Wuttunee
skates over the negative realities of unemployment, the prevalence of
treatment centres, and the negative effects of Native politics in the
various communities. Although she provides various measures of economic
success, these are not applied to any of the case studies. The
Aboriginal perspective is unquestionably accepted by the fact that the
administrative structure is managed by Aboriginal leaders and elders who
make decisions on economic matters. It is difficult to determine how the
existence of this structure alone provides evidence of an Aboriginal
perspective or “wisdom,” especially given the reality of politics,
economics, and the limitations of economic investment imposed by the
Indian Act.

It would have been useful to learn from the various case studies how
the decision-making process actually operated. How were various economic
options considered before a decision was made to build a golf course,
resort, or business park, or to engage in partnership strategies with
big business for forestry and oil and gas revenues? What options were
rejected and why? If the decision-making process was then analyzed and
compared with a cost–benefit approach, it may then have been possible
to learn more about the Aboriginal perspective. Despite these
limitations, Living Rhythms will likely provide undergraduate students
with an introduction to the subject of economic development in various
Western Aboriginal communities and organizations and encourage further
analytical studies.


Wuttunee, Wanda., “Living Rhythms: Lessons in Aboriginal Economic Resilience and Vision,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024,