Neighbours and Networks: The Blood Tribe in the Southern Alberta Economy, 1884–1939.


262 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55238-243-1
DDC 330.90089'97352071234




Reviewed by Frits Pannekoek

Frits Pannekoek is an associate professor of heritage studies, director
of information resources at the University of Calgary, and the author of
A Snug Little Flock: The Social Origins of the Riel Resistance of


Keith Regular argues against the prevailing view that the post-buffalo life for the Bloods and many of the plains people was inevitably one of poverty and destitution in which they were hapless victims. Instead, he postulates that through their energy and foresight they both promoted and constructed their own integration into the regional economy. They did so with knowledge and calculation.

This, along with Sarah Carter’s The Importance of Being Monogamous (Athabasca University Press, 2008), is one of the new analysis that gives strong and undoubted agency to the Blood people of Southern Alberta. Both volumes deal with the Bloods of Southern Alberta and their relationships with surrounding communities. Both argue that the Bloods adapted to and exploited their new cultural and economic contexts. They were not simply victims of Euro-Canadian expansion. Regular also points out that what he proves to be true of the Bloods and their hinterland may also be true of other Aboriginal peoples. He does acknowledge that the concentration of their population in a reasonably well-endowed reserve did provide the Bloods with considerable advantage.

Regular proves his case through a careful analysis of the main economic activities of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century economy of Southern Alberta. In Chapter Two, for example, he deals with ranching and in Chapter Three the marketing of coal, hay, and freighting services to outsiders. In Chapter Four he deals with the Bloods’ role in providing labour to the neighbouring Raymond sugar beet fields. He then analyzes the Bloods and the business community in a chapter appropriately entitled “A Prospective Citizen of no Mean Importance.” To the merchants in Fort MacLeod, Lethbridge, Raymond, and Cardston the Bloods’ business was certainly worth having and even bending rules to obtain.

The Regular volume is a must for any Aboriginal studies or Western Canadian history course, not only because it is a perceptive analysis, but also because it brings life, hope, and agency to what has been, to date, a dismal tale.


Regular, W. Keith., “Neighbours and Networks: The Blood Tribe in the Southern Alberta Economy, 1884–1939.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,