Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Richard J. Preston
This thesis uses a metaphor of "weaving" to analyze ongoing culture formation processes in the isolated Dene community of Sambaa K'e, located in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories. The weaving of spruce root baskets is a skill that had been forgotten but has recently been retrieved by the Dene of this community, which is committed to maintaining traditions within its evolving lifestyle. The primary evidence for this process is the material in the two editions of a "community book", Sambaa K'e Then and Now (1998); references to the second edition are from the 2006 version of the manuscript, soon to be printed. The research and production process for the two editions, along with the contents, are part of the evidence for the community's creativity in weaving traditional knowledge and practices with modem ones. I have engaged with these Dene people over more than two decades, and have gained awareness of their values, developing lifestyle, and practical ways of weaving the old and the new. I theorize that their tendency to creative resilience is an outcome of historical and current survival in the "spiritual domain" of the subarctic ecosystem (Preston 1998, 50). There seems to be a general acceptance among anthropologists of the concept "culture as a verb"; this thesis provides evidence for how this plays out dynamically in the everyday lives of people in this community. These Dene, in their stories, art, and photos, as well as in their collaboration in developing the book, offer personal witness to the unfolding details of the culture weaving process within their community. This thesis offers evidence from the larger collection of material in the book itself, and from my observations of community process, of how this subarctic Dene group is weaving its culture in a continuous, pragmatic and creative formation process.
McGregor, Roberta D., "WEAVING CULTURE IN SAMBAAK'E" (2009). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4558.
McMaster University Library