Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Roger Hall


This presentation is a history of a small community, Île-à-la-Crosse, located in an area now part of Saskatchewan, Canada. With an historic reputation for cooperation and enviable trading circumstances, its residents traditionally have determined that protection of the community ensured the best opportunities for the advancement and security of individuals. As a result of this belief, residents reinforced their own understandings of sustainability as a means to ensure personal success. The community’s fame for hosting such a set of norms grew, particularly from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and outsiders often visited to improve their own efforts as a result of this reputation. Given the belief that community longevity assured individual concerns, many visitors quickly decided to adopt local processes even if those functions contrasted sharply from their own original beliefs. Based on these decisions, the visitors’ institutions experienced changes as well.

Through this social cooperation to better ensure personal success, a culture began to develop, and so the village’s distinctive administrative and economic processes were continued through family and neighbourly ties. Some characteristics, such as multiculturalism, shared land use, complex trading activities, and sustainability, further distinguished Île-à-la-Crosse as a result. Though well aware of the village a number of parties (such as the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Canadian government), still regularly excluded the community from their deliberations because of its unique ability to supposedly need less intervention considered necessary elsewhere. These various corporate and political authorities, concerned with their own existence, instead emphasised the conditions of communities that demonstrated social hostility, monetary difficulties, and other forms of disparity. As these historic parties failing to appreciate the village’s positive components in their fullest form, historians also did not integrate the village into their narratives since they almost always focused on conflict and change in their investigations. Because of this missing analysis about Île-à-la-Crosse, historical accounts have created lacunae in our understanding and awareness not just of local but also of provincial and national issues pertaining to “development.” Today, the lack of historic and historical awareness has as well directly impacted a modern day Indigenous “land claim”. Particularly when examining “absence” and “overlap” in a space’s natural and social form, Île-à-la-Crosse’s story from its earliest existence to its present shape can finally remind us how local conditions –even before humans started living in those circumstances – can teach us about how to survive and succeed today as individuals and as part of a larger community and country. It also reminds us how we should pay more attention to peace, cooperation and interaction in both intellectual and social circles.