I have lived here since the world began: an illustrated history of Canada's native people // Review

TitleI have lived here since the world began: an illustrated history of Canada's native people // Review
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsRay, AJ
ISBN Number0005-7517
KeywordsBook reviews, Canada, Economic conditions, Fur trade (History), History, Native peoples
Abstract

Some readers may be disappointed that has not taken the opportunity to wade into some of the debates that his earlier work has generated, such as the issue of the pre - contact location of the various Cree groups. Many of these debates appeal only to specialists, however, and this book is not aimed at them. It is written with commitment and passion. Ray argues that we need to develop a North American law that treats people who "have lived here since the world began" with respect. Ray was clearly dismayed at the finding of the Honourable Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, in 1991. McEachern characterized the pre - contact life of the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en culture as "nasty, brutish, and short". "Thomas Hobbes's theory of natural man," Ray writes, "which fell out of fashion in the 1700s, lingered like a dinosaur in the chief justice's courtroom." McEachern rejected virtually every scrap of the oral history testimony, concluding that this evidence did not hold up under cross - examination. The McEachern ruling, Ray argues, sent a clear message to Aboriginal people: "stop wasting time and money in court; get on with your lives." As Ray notes, however, these lengthy legal exercises have created massive documentary records that demonstrate what the Aboriginal world was and is like. Indian and Metis claims have fostered a reconsideration of all aspects of their history, forcing non - Native Canadians to redefine their concept of Canada, symbolized by the recent public acceptance of the idea that Aboriginal people were Canada's "First Nations". Arthur Ray has also played no small role in forcing Canadians to abandon outdated ideas about the history of Aboriginal people.