The White Man's Gonna Getcha: The Colonial Challenge to the Crees in Quebec

Description

370 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
$27.95
ISBN 0-7735-2299-9
DDC 971.4'11004973

Year

2002

Contributor

Reviewed by John Steckley

John Steckley teaches in the Human Studies Program at Humber College in
Toronto. He is the author of Beyond Their Years: Five Native Women’s
Stories.

Review

This excellent book is the latest in a series of works produced by
Professor Morantz of McGill University on the subject of the history of
the Crees of East James Bay and surrounding areas. In it the author
explores the Crees’ exposure to colonialism and their survival in
spite of that exposure. She attempts to avoid the flaws of earlier
anthropologists and historians, whose works either ignored colonialism
(suggesting blamelessness on the part of the Europeans) or overplayed
its role (depicting the Crees purely as victims who exhibited no
agency).

She introduces the work by referring to herself as an
ethnohistorian—one who must combine the skills and knowledge of two
disciplines, anthropology and history—without succumbing to the
weaknesses that each has historically displayed when treading on the
disciplinary grounds of the other. She successfully achieves such a
combination. Indeed, the introductory chapter should serve as mandatory
reading for would-be (ethno)historians needing theoretical grounding for
the historical study of Native peoples. Another strength is that Morantz
engages reflexiveness in her study, scrutinizing the outsider-driven
motives and methods of ethnohistory, but does so with a refreshing
personal honesty, and even a sense of humor (“Let the plunder
begin”).

The weaknesses of the book are few. First, at the end of some chapters
are summaries, which are helpful when they occur and are missed when
they are absent. Unfortunately, they are absent from most of the
chapters. Second—and this unfortunately puts this book in the majority
rather than the more informed minority—the index is almost completely
without entries based on Cree words. There is only one—witiko.
Therefore, students of Cree culture interested in developing their
knowledge of important Cree concepts in this book, such as the two types
of stories called atiukan and tipachiman, might be unaware of the
author’s insightful treatment of these stories.

Citation

Morantz, Toby., “The White Man's Gonna Getcha: The Colonial Challenge to the Crees in Quebec,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/29332.