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History General

Views from Fort Battleford

Constructed Visions of an Anglo-Canadian West

by (author) Walter Hildebrandt

University of Regina Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2008
General, Indigenous Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2008
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The myth of the Mounties as neutral arbiters between Aboriginal peoples and incoming settlers remains a cornerstone of the western Canadian narrative of a peaceful frontier experience that differs dramatically from its American equivalent. Walter Hildebrandt eviscerates this myth, placing the NWMP and early settlement in an international framework of imperialist plunder and the imposition of colonialist ideology. Fort Battleford, as an architectural endeavour, and as a Euro-Canadian settlement, oozed British and central Canadian values. The Mounties, like the Ottawa government that paid their salaries, "were in the West to assure that a new cultural template of social behaviour would replace the one they found." The newcomers were blind to the cultural values and material achievements of the millenia-long residents of the North-West. Unlike their fur trade predecessors, the settler state had little need to respect or accommodate Aboriginal people. Following policies that resulted in starvation for Natives, the colonizers then responded brutally to the uprising of some of the oppressed in 1885. Hildebrandt's ability to view these events from the indigenous viewpoint places the Mounties, the Canadian state, and the regional settlement experience in an entirely different spotlight.

About the author

Historian and poet Walter Hildebrant was born in Brooks, Alberta and now lives in Edmonton. He has worked as an historian for Parks Canada and as a consultant to the Treaty 7 Tribal Council, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Banff Bow Valley Task Force. He is co-author of The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7 and The Cypress Hills: The Land and Its People, and author of Views From Battleford: Constructed Visions of an Anglo-Canadian West. His long poem Sightings was nominated for the 1992 McNally-Robinson Book of the Year for Manitoba. His book Where the Land Gets Broken won the Stephen G. Stephensson Award for Poetry in 2005. He is presently the Director of the Athabasca University Press. This is his seventh book of poetry.

Walter Hildebrandt's profile page

Other titles by Walter Hildebrandt