Political Resistance in a Contemporary Hunter-Gatherer Society: More about Bearlake Athapaskan Knowledge and Authority

by Scott Rushforth
Political Resistance in a Contemporary Hunter-Gatherer Society: More about Bearlake Athapaskan Knowledge and Authority
Scott Rushforth
American Ethnologist
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political resistance in a contemporary hunter-gatherer society: more about Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority

SCOTT RUSHFORTH-New Mexico State University

Each society has its own regime oftruth, its 'general politics' of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true. . . . There is a battle 'for truth', or at least 'around truth'-it being understood once again that by truth I do not mean 'the ensemble of truths which are to be discovered and accepted', but rather 'the ensemble of rules according to which the true and the false are separated and specific effects ofpower attached to the true'.

-Michel Foucault, "Power and Truth"

Most oi the political life oisubordinate groups is to be iound neither in overt collective deiiance oi powerholders nor in complete hegemonic compliance, but in the vast territory between these two polar opposites.

-James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance

In a previous article, I interpreted a preference Bearlake lndians (Sahtuot'ine) have for experiential knowledge by relating it to their traditional hunter-gatherer mode of production (Rushforth 1992).' 1 do not intend to imply by this interpretation that Sahtuot'jne have been isolated from regional, national, and world political-economic systems2 Since the late 1700s, Bearlakers have experienced, because of contact with the West, epidemic diseases, the world fur trade, mineral exploration, Christianity, tourism, state bureaucratic activities, land claims, and political activism. Nevertheless, Western institutions and interests have never completely subordinated or absorbed Sahtuot'jne. Bearlakers continue to derive a large portion of their livelihood from hunting, fishing, and trapping. During the 1970s and 1980s, people from Fort Franklin obtained up to 40 percent of their income from these pursuits (Rushforth 1977). Bearlake culture and society have retained distinctive characteristics, including beliefs about knowledge, truth, and authority that I report in this and otherworks (see, for example, Rushforth 1992; Rushforth with Chisholm 1991 ). In the contemporary world, Sahtuot'jne are beginning to exhibit greater reliance on non-native occupations, wider attendance in Western schools,

The northeastern Athapaskan-speaking Bearlake lndians prefer experiential knowl- edge and primary epistemic reasons in the justification of beliefs. Bearlakers base local authority on such knowledge and justification, the epistemological and political significance of which derives historically from their hunter-gatherer mode of production. In the 1970s, the association between primary knowledge and legitimate authority affected Bearlake opinion about and the form of their political opposition to proposed, externally controlled economic development. [huntergatherers, Athapaskan, political resistance, knowledge, authority, trust]

American Ethnologist 21(2):335-352.Copyright O1994. American Anthropological Association.
Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority 335

more extensive travel away from Bearlake territory, and increased communication with the outside world through various media. Through increasingly intensive contact and disruption, Bearlake beliefs about knowledge and authority might change. I concern myself here, however, with how Sahtuot'jne resisted, for a moment, such transformation.

In this article, I examine some consequences of the Bearlake preference for experiential knowledge within the contemporary Bearlake social formation, which, as noted, is based economically on an articulation of hunting, fishing, and trapping with modern government and industrial activities. My purpose is to discuss the Bearlake reaction to externally controlled economic development during the 1970s. A Bearlake cultural association between primary knowledge and authority affected people's opinions about proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline in Canada's Northwest Territories. The association also influenced Bearlakers' responses to claims that modern developers and expert witnesses made during a Canadian government inquiry into the socioeconomic and environmental effects of the proposed pipeline.
Bearlake knowledge and authority

In my earlier article, I discussed Sahtuot'jne propositional knowledge, contending that knowledge, truth, and the justification of beliefs are culturally constructed. I also distinguished between primary and secondary kn~wledge.~

This distinction emphasizes the "causal ancestry of the reasons upon which a belief is based" (Swain 1981 :196). Primary knowledge denotes fully justified beliefs that an individual acquires through his or her experiences, including social interactions. Primary epistemic evidence is the foundation of primary knowledge. People employ the former as warrant for the latter.4 Secondary knowledge is based only indirectly on primary experience. Non-epistemic factors such as a speaker's credentials can provide the salient reasons for believing in secondary kno~ledge.~

Bearlakers make a distinction similar to the one between primary and secondary knowledge and assign priority to the former over the latter when justifying beliefs (Rushforth 1992). More precisely, for Sahtuot'jne, fully warranted belief (that is, knowledge) customarily requires legitimation by primary epistemic evidence. Among Sahtuot'jne, nonepistemic reasons rarely, if ever, completely justify belief.

Historically, the Bearlake preference for primary knowledge was produced and reproduced within an immediate-return, noncompetitive, egalitarian hunter-gatherer mode of production (Rushforth 1992). Social practices deriving from the demand for primary knowledge had unintended consequences that acted to reproduce egalitarian features ofthe traditional Bearlake social formation (Rushforth 1992). The preference and practices persist despite contemporary Bearlake intersection with Western capitalism. In the modern world, as in the past, Sahtuot'jne identify primary knowledge with authority in both of the latter's basic senses: the power to inspire justified belief in others (being an authority, having legitimate knowledge) and the power to influence or determine others' conduct (having control over the actions of others). For Bearlakers, authority in the latter sense derives from authority in the former sense, which, as noted, is founded on a person's experiential knowledge. Accordingly, constraints on the production and reproduction of primary knowledge also affect the production and reproduction of authoritylpower (Rushforth 1992). Because individual primary experience and knowledge are inherently limited, authoritylpower is also limited and may only be temporarily concen- trated. With such constraints, permanent forms of social hierarchy based on differential control of knowledge are not promoted among Sahtuot'jne.

For Sahtuot'jne, primary knowledge is not objectified (Rushforth 1992). It is not a commodity. One person does not exchange primary knowledge with another. Someone who assimilates primary knowledge may usefully consume it (my metaphor). She or he may only transmit it to someone else as secondary knowledge. When individuals transmit secondary knowledge, they

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do not simultaneously convey the authority associated with their primary knowledge. Readers may compare this situation to that on Malo, an island of Vanuatu in the southern Pacific (Rubinstein 1981 ;M. Strathern 1985). Malo distinguish between "understanding" (emotional response) and "knowing" (perception and factual knowledge). Both forms of knowledge are intimately tied to and reproduced through individuals. Through speech, however, both may also be objectified and converted to external "fact" (M. Strathern 1985:66). Strathern writes

Rubinstein ponders on the 'paradox' between personalized and objectitied knowledge. It is a paradox that must come from our own antithesis between persons and things. It would seem that Malo simply set up a special relationship between persons and knowledge, one that not only establishes an identity between an individual and what he or she understands/knows, but also detaches that sensory reaction as a resource transactable in encounters with others. Perhaps knowledge is rather like a valuable. From its characteristic as a resource ('objectified') it can operate as a token in the external world; but precisely because it is also part oithe person ('personalized'), its deployment is an immediatevehicle ior statements of that person's power or standing, and itself becomes thereby valorized. [1985:66-671

Among Sahtuot'jne, primary knowledge, which is identified with an individual and the source of that person's power/authority, is not detached and objectified in this manner.

Each Bearlaker's unique experience, primary knowledge, and associated authority are finite. The limited nature of primary knowledge affects the distribution and concentration of Bearlake authority. An example from the domain of technical knowledge will clarify this point. Someone with pivotal primary technical knowledge has limited power over others during cooperative productive activities. In the past, "generous" and "controlled" individuals with the requisite experience and knowledge led Sahtuot'jne bands (Rushforth 1984; Rushforth with Chisholm 1991). In the present, the Bearlake preference for primary knowledge and association between primary knowledge and authority make it likely that contemporary task group leaders will have the necessary knowledge and authority to accomplish productive tasks. The preference and association also insure that such leaders will not have too much power. One Bearlake man, for example, might spend more time hunting at Big Point than at Grizzly Bear Mountain. His primary knowledge of the first place would be greater than his primary knowledge of the second location. For another Bearlake man, exactly the opposite might be true. All else being equal, if the two men hunted together at Big Point, the first man would temporarily have more authority during productive activities than the second. If the two Bearlakers were to hunt together at Grizzly Bear Mountain, all else being equal, the second man would temporarily have more authority than the first.

This example clarifies the situational and transient nature of Bearlake authority. It also illustrates how Bearlake authority may be differentially distributed among individuals despite principled equal access to theexperience and knowledge on which authority is based. For more detail about these points, see Rushforth (1 992). Further ethnographic discussions of knowledge production, reproduction, and control can be found in the work of Fredrik Barth (1 975, 1987, 1990), Janet Wall Hendricks (1 988), Lamont Lindstrom (1 9841, Claude Meillassoux (1 960), Nicholas Modjeska (1 982), David Parkin (1 9851, Anne Salmond (1 9821, and Emmanuel Terray (1 972). Modjeska and Lindstromfocuson conditions underwhich social inequality in Melanesia is based on "mastery of knowledge" rather than "mastery of the economy" (Lindstrom 1984:295). Such conditions may be characterized by factors that impede the production of economic inequality, for example:

(a)a simple mode ot production without exchangeable surplus. . . (b) equality ot access to the means ot production . . . [and] (c) the vitiation of inequalities in the exchange of goods and women by cultural rules which restrict exchange to that of 'identities' rather than 'equivalences'. [Lindstrom 1984:295]

In my previous article (Rushforth 1992),1 focused on factors among Sahtljot'jne that might hinder the development of inequality based on knowledge. Such factors include the preference for primary knowledge, the association of primary knowledge with authority, the inability of one person to objectify and exchange primary knowledge with another, the finite nature of human

Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority 337

experience, and principled equal access to experience. Such factors were intrinsic to the traditional Bearlake hunter-gatherer mode of production.

Significantly, given the association between primary knowledge and authority, Bearlakers allow broadly equal access to the former and, hence, the latter. There are not now, nor were there in the past, limitations beyond age and gender on access to different a~tivities.~

Bearlakers normally act freely, unencumbered by others' coercions. Individuals may, in principle, seek experience and knowledge wherever, whenever, and in whatever ways they see fit. In many societies, privileged access to knowledge and truth can furnish individuals or groups with an advantage in attempts to acquire power. Such privileged access was and is absent among SahtOot' jne.'
pipeline development and the Berger inquiry

Contact with Europeans has immeasurably affected Dene (for example, Asch 1975, 1979a, 1979b, 1982, 1986, 1989a, 1989b; Helm and Damas 1963; Helm, Rogers, and Smith 1981 ; Krech 1978; Rushforth with Chisholm 1991 1. Asch's political-economic discussions are par- ticularly informative about Dene contact history. He focuseson historically unequal exchanges between Europeans and northeastern Athapaskans and on the implications for Dene of their articulation with capitalism. Such implications includethe partial loss of autonomy and creation of political and economic dependency among these Native Americans (see, for example, Asch 1986:282-291). Another result of Dene articulation with capitalism is the emergence of native resistance to further erosion of autonomous aboriginal rights (Asch 1992).

Concerning political and economic dependency, Paul Dribben and Robert S. Trudeau's (1 983) analysis of the consequences of Canadian government policies and actions during the 1970s on Ojibwa Indians of northern Ontario can be extended to northern Dene. Canadian government policies and actions of this period had the expressed objectives of raising living standards and creating economic self-sufficiency among native peoples. The policies and actions, however, increased Ojibwa and Dene dependency.

During the 1970s, multinational corporations sought Canadian government permission to construct natural gas pipelines along the Arctic coast from Prudhoe Bay to the Mackenzie Delta and south from the Mackenzie Delta along the Mackenzie River to northern Alberta (Berger 1977). To investigate the potential social, economic, and environmental impact of the proposed pipelines and to make recommendations concerning terms and conditions on construction of the pipelines, the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development appointed Mr. justice Thomas R. Berger to conduct the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry (Berger 1977). During the inquiry, Justice Berger held hearings in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, and other communities throughout the Northwest Territories. In the community hearings, he listened to scores of northeastern Athapaskans speak on topics ranging from traditional lifeways to culture change and contemporary social problems (Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry 1975). On June 24 to 26, 1975, Justice Berger convened a community hearing among Sahtuot'jne at Fort Franklin. Berger brought his professional and clerical staffs and representatives of Canadian Arctic Gas and Foothill Pipelines Ltd. (companies proposing pipeline development), repre- sentatives of the Northwest Territories Indian Brotherhood and Metis Association of the Northwest Territories, and members of the Canadian media. Together with residents of Fort Franklin, they met formally in the hamlet's community hall. Berger presided. Bearlakewitnesses were sworn in before presenting their testimony.

The evidence Sahtuot'ine provided at their community hearing reflects their beliefs about knowledge and authority. Atthe community hearing, most Bearlake witnesses opposed pipeline construction and externally controlled economic development. This opposition approximates "everyday resistance" to political and economic domination (Scott 1985) because it was

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nonviolent, largely undertaken by individuals for their own independent reasons, and pursued without group strategy or organization.'The Fort Franklin community hearing is an example of what Anthony Giddens calls an "access point," that is, a point "of connection between lay individuals or col lectivities and the representatives of abstract systems" (Giddens 1990:88-90). Access points are not only loci of vulnerability for abstract systems, but also junctions at which attitudes of trust can be established, maintained, or built up (Giddens 1990:90). Access points are also loci where the intrusion of expert systems of knowledge and of global social systems can occur.

From a slightly different perspective, the Fort Franklin community hearing also provides what James Scott terms a "public transcript" of discourse between representatives of dominate and dominated sociopolitical groups (1 990). He contrasts public transcripts with "hidden tran- scripts" that people produce "offstage" when the members of either dominate or subordinate groups converse among themselves.

As noted, Sahtliot'jne beliefs about knowledge and authority partially determined the content and form of Bearlake testimony at the community hearingg Hence, an understanding of these Bearlake beliefs provides the basis for interpreting what people said (intended to convey) to Justice Berger during their depositions. A brief description and interpretation of the public transcript of the Fort Franklin community hearing testimony follows.

Most Sahtuot'jne testimony concerned four topics. First, Bearlakers spent much time describ- ing individual personal experiences. Every Bearlake witness chronicled features of his or her experience that attested to first-hand knowledge of the "bush," native peoples, and past and present conditions in northern communities. Some people told where they were born and how their parents taught them the native way of life. Others focused on their travels around Bear Lake and how they subsisted by hunting, fishing, and trapping. Some witnesses placed their personal accounts within a more general context of Dene contact history. Several witnesses depicted their own life in the bush and then described how Dene have lived similarly for many generations. Others discussed recent social and cultural changes that they had encountered at Fort Franklin. By historically situating their personal narratives, these Sahtuot'jne established that the events of their own lives were part of an extended tradition.

Second, several Bearlakers characterized for Justice Berger the land's critical importance to them and their way of life. These witnesses often made such assertions as part ofor as conclusion to their experiential narratives. Some said, for instance, that Bearlakers have always lived through the land and the animals that occupy it. Others reported that Sahtuot'jne have always taught their children to keep the land in good repair and to share the food that they obtain from their efforts in the bush. Several emphasized that Sahtuot'jne can continue to survive only by maintaining their good relationship with the land.

Third, Bearlakers sometimes included in their depositions statements about outsiders' mis- guided behavior and failures to understand or anticipate the negative consequences of their (the outsiders') actions. One witness described, for example, cases of seismic line exploration that polluted lakes and streams. Other witnesses described industrial activities that led to the death of caribou, beaver, and marten. One witness recounted a predator control project that poisoned wolves, also killing fur-bearing animals and even fish. Some discussed the unforeseen negative consequences of Western schooling for Sahtuot'jne. Such testimony documented witnesses' experience with representatives of Canadian government and industry and with the effects of strangers' actions on the land and people. In this context, Bearlake witnesses sometimes explicitly referred to expert witnesses' ignorance of northern lands and peoples. That is, Bearlakers sometimes openly questioned non-natives' alleged knowledge of the subarctic. They did so by emphasizing outsiders' widespread lack of personal experience in the north.

Fourth, although Bearlakers' attitudes about development often remained implicit in their testimony, people occasionally verbalized their opinions about pipeline construction. As

Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority 339

indicated, Bearlake sentiment on this subject was mostly negative. When a witness stated his or her opinion, he or she frequently linked it to potentially damaging effects of pipeline development on the land. Given Bearlakers' experience with outsiders and the latters' lack of

experience in the north, expert testimony left Sahtuot'jne unconvinced that pipeline develop- ment would benefit Native peoples.

The following statements, simultaneously translated from the Bearlake language by a member of the community and transcribed by court recorders at Fort Franklin during the community hearing, provide additional information about Sahtuot'ine depositions. Rather than exemplify- ing discourse about the above four topics, I include statements that relate Bearlake testimony to their beliefs about experience, knowledge, truth, and authority. I slightly edited parts of the transcript and added some parenthetical materials but did not substantively change the testimony's content or meaning."

In the first excerpt, a Bearlake man criticized a report about socioeconomic conditions in the Northwest Territories that an outside expert witness had submitted. The portion of the report addressing conditions at Fort Franklin was based on secondhand materials and a site visit of

one or two days.

The person that wrote the report . . . probably didn't go even a short distance into the bush.. . . When people here [irom Fort Franklin] talk about something like that, about their way oi liie, it is the truth because they have experienced it. [Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry 1975, 7:609]

Another witness provided this testimony:

I can't read to you off a paper [about] all the things that I would like to say. But I have witnessed a lot oi things. I have witnessed the lndian way of liie. I have experienced these things. So I will share this experience with you. All the people here who have expressed their opinions to you, they are not just talking about one person [themselves]. They are talking about all the people. When these people are talking to you, they are talking about what they have experienced. They are talking [irom experience] about their way oi life. [Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry 1975, 8:764-7651

The witness proceeded with a narrative of his life on the land. He concluded by saying,

What I havetold you. . . all the people here have experienced that way of life. . . . Sincewhitemen came, they are allowed to do whatever they want on this land. They iound minerals that were valuable. They iound oil. They made a lot oimoney irom it. But we never talk about what they do [on the land] or what they do with the money. But the whitepeople have decided to talk about our . . . land. That is very important to us. That is why we havedecided to say something about what should happen up here. When people start talking about our land, as a last resort, we have to say something. . . . When they decide to take our land away, then it is time ior us to say something. [Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry 1975, 8:769-7701

A later witness at the Fort Franklin community hearing introduced his personal narrative of experiences at the Great Bear Lake by saying this to Justice Berger:

[Wle are telling you our experiences, what we do in liie. There is no lying involved in it. We are telling you the truth. [Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry 1975, 9:789-7901

Following his experiential account, the witness concluded with these words,

I am not telling you about something that I don't know. . . . I am telling you about something that I have seen with my own eyes. . . . I have experienced it. [Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry 1975, 9:7931

Another man chose to comment on the testimony of earlier witnesses:

[Tlhose women were talking about the [native] way oi liie, and how this was carried down . . . [through] tradition. . . . The kinds oi statements that those women made, and the kinds oi statements that the men made, are very true. . . . [I] know from experience . . . that what they have said is really the truth. And Andre . . . made some statements. . . . [I] have gone through that same experience. . . . [I] share this same experience. [Mackenzie Valley Pipeline lnquiry 1975, 7:667-6681

A text that I collected while consulting with the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories also emphasizes personal experience, knowledge, truth, and authority. The text merits citation, though I recorded it outside the community hearing, and it did not become part

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ot the inquiry's tormal record. The statement comes from an approximately two-hour narrative about my consultant's personal experiences on the land:

Today, the animals are becoming fewer. We don't want that to happen. What if there are no more tish at

Caribou Point? What would wedo? If there are no animals left, things are going to be very difficult for us.

What if that happens at Mackintosh Bay? In the old days, people really lived off the land. We would go

down to Johnny Hoe River and stay until spring time. All ofthe people would then go to fishing areas like

Lac St. Therese. Some people would go up there to fish. People used to go trapping. People traveled all

over the land to make the~r liv~ng-to make their lite better. The Old People traveled where they could

eat and where they could iish. The Old People traveled there. What I say is true. That is how we lived

well in thosedays. People lived really well and right now we are not our own bosses. How are we going

to improve our lives? Even when we get our pension checks, food prices are going up. You can't even

see the end ofthe prices. Our pension checks don't even last to the end of the month. Now we can't even

eat out of the lake. And white people are responsible for that. Wt~ite people who talk today tell us how

to use the land. They shouM back up what they say with stories of their travels on the land Then we

would believe them. They sit in their land and through reading books about us, they talk. . . . They are

the kind ofpeople who are proud. . . . In the old days we always did what the Old People said and our

lives were always good. We used to travel where there were fish and caribou and our livs were good.

Today, we don't know what to do. There are so many white people among us. What if so many white

people come that they fill up the shore of Bearlake? What could we do then? What could we kill [to eat]

for ourselves! Nothing. Life is becoming more and moredifiicult. Right now, we ran still sell fur. But in

the end, we won't be able to. We don't know how many people are going to have jobs. Right now, eating

has become a real problem.. . . The whites have really put our lives in a bad state. [Rushforth 1975,

emphasis added]

As noted, much Sahtirot'jne testimony dealt with personal experiences. Several of the above statements imply that this testimony was also about the legitimation ot knowledge, truth, and authority. Through recitations ot personal experiences, witnesses asserted claims to primary knowledge and provided hearers with reasons for believing their (the speakers') testimony. For Sahtirot'jne who situated personal narratives within the context ot northern contact history, the personal experience and primary knowledge provided a reason tor others to believe the historical narrative. Experiential narratives that demonstrated primary knowledge ot the bush partially legitimated witnesses' statements about the land. Narratives about experiences with outsiders revealed that Bearlakers had primary knowledge ot the misguided actions ot non- native peoples. Outsiders' assurances ot pipeline safety were wan in this light.

Some of the Bearlake statements transcribed above explicitly reter to the truth ot what previous witnesses had said. When other members ot the Bearlake community acknowledged the truth of an individual's testimony, such acknowledgment legitimated that witness's culturally constituted authority to speak about the topics at issue. That is, such exegetical statements explicitly recognized the knowledge and authority of the earlier speakers. The statements explicitly acknowledged that witnesses were not merely offering opinions, but also asserting truths tor all the people. This reflects traditional Bearlake patterns of negotiation for consensus and community legitimation of an individual's knowledge and authority. Donald Brenneis (1 984:79-821, Lamont Lindstrom (1 990b:387-395), and Annette Weiner (1 983:691), among others, discuss the legitimation ot truths in public settings among Pacitic peoples. Lindstrom, for example, discusses the "enunciation" of truth among the Tanna ot southern Vanuatu (Lindstrom 1990b:387-395). Legitimation of truths in Tanna legal discourse is a social and political process that creates accepted public versions ot events.

The metacommunicative messages about knowledge, truth, and authority that Bearlakers conveyed during the Berger hearing are as significant as the specitic content ottheir testimony. Charles Briggs demonstrates the need for anthropologists to understand traditional discourse styles to comprehend such metacommunicative intentions and meanings (1986). Fred Myers makes a similar point in his description of Pintupi Aborigine "meetings" (1986:437). Myers's account is interesting because it describes contemporary hunter-gatherers who legitimate authority by "external, authoritative sources" such as a mythological construction known as "The Dreaming" (Myers 1986:437). Differences between Pintupi legitimation of authority by

Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority 341

reference, tor example, to initiated men's secret ritual knowledge and Bearlake legitimation ot authority by primary knowledge possibly relate to the presence of greater gender and age hierarchy among the Pintupi than among the Bearlakers.

Lindstrom's analysis of knowledge and power among the Tanna provides another contrast to the Bearlake case. In Lindstrom's discussion, he emphasizes the importance to Tannese of "authorization," "copyright," and "access to a means ot inspiration" as conditions on the appropriate production of serious discourse (1990a; especially chapter 3). For the Tannese, "serious knowledge is revealed" (Lindstrom 1990a:72). The legitimate production ot serious knowledge statements requires access to an inspired authoritative source and "access to authority becomes the critical issue" (Lindstrom 1990a:82).

Parallel to my account of the Fort Franklin community hearing, Lindstrom discusses the etfects of Tanna discursive conditions on discussions between Tannese and government researchers during a 1980s land dispute (1 990a:69-72). Accordingto Lindstrom, "in this strategic discourse, we can overhear Reia [a Tannese man] evoke local rules and conditions of Tannese knowledge production" (1990a:69). 1 make a similar claim for Bearlake discourse at the Fort Franklin community hearing. Bearlakers, however, preter to legitimate knowledge differently from the Tannese. Bearlakers emphasize different reasons tor believing. They preter to legitimate their serious discourse by reterring to primary epistemic evidence. Institutionalized secrecy is also more widespread and important among Tannese and other Melanesian peoples (see, for example, Barth 1990; Lindstrom 1984) than among Sahtuot'ine. These differences relate to dissimilarities between the peoples in sociopolitical organization.

Bearlake statements about outsiders' paucity ot personal experience in the north implicitly challenged the legitimacy ot non-native verisimilitudes. Bearlakers doubted outsiders' claims because the latter trequently made such assertions without primary epistemic evidence. Outsiders were mostly unable to legitimate their positions by referring to their own personal experiences, their own "travels on the land." In instances when modern expert witnesses had primary epistemic evidence tor their claims, such evidence often took the form otdata collected during short summer tield sessions. Sahtuot'jne and other Dene questioned how someone could possibly know the land based on the experiences of one or two summers. Only a "proud," that is, arrogant and presumptuous person would believe this possible."

As implied, the content and form ot Bearlake testimony at the community hearing were consistent with personal narratives that are part of traditional Bearlake oral literature. Experien- tial narratives intorm hearers about the world and about both effective and ineffective responses to situations that the narrator has encountered and, hence, knows. Speakers use the narratives to intorm hearers implicitly, rather than to direct their actions explicitly (Rushforth 1992). Such personal narratives are a vital source ot secondary knowledge tor members ot the Bearlake community. Hearers use the secondary knowledge they assimilate by listening to someone's personal narratives to guide and interpret their own experiences. Hearers partially justify such secondary knowledge by reterring to the speaker's authority, which is founded on the latter's primary knowledge (Rushforth 1992). Depending on a speaker's authority, a hearer might say she or he believesor knows that something spoken about by that person is true. Most Bearlakers would, however, reserve final judgment about the truth of what someone says until they have the primary epistemic evidence necessary to evaluate, perhaps to legitimate tully, the assertion. As suggested earlier, Sahtuot'jne acted within this framework when describing their personal experiences tor Justice Berger. They spoke to legitimate local knowledge, truth, and authority. They made tew explicit statements about pipeline construction and development because such assertions were unnecessary within their traditional narrative tramework. At the community hearing, Sahtuot'jne expected Justice Berger to hear their testimony, experience for himself lite in the north, and use his newly assimilated knowledge to guide later decisions and actions.

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Bearlake political resistance

Two sets ot ideas help explain Bearlake testimony as part of their opposition to externally controlled economic development. The first set derives from Lois Stanford's discussion of the relationship between local, autonomous control of productive forces and the form of resistance by small-scale agriculturalists to external domination (1991). The second set is based on Anthony Giddens' discussion ot premodern, modern, and postmodern social systems (1990).

In a recent article, Stanford suggests that the form of resistance by smal I-scale agriculturalists to capitalist intrusion depends on their relations ot production (1991 ). According to Stantord, if small-scale agriculturalists oppose capitalist intrusion, they will use as their principal tools of resistance those means of production over which they retain autonomous control. Peasants who control their own land, for example, will resist in ways distinct from those employed by people who do not control land, but only their own labor power. In the tormer case, peasants are likely to resist individually by manipulating the products of their labor efforts. In situations where farmers do not control land, they are more likely to resist as groups through strikes and other efforts to withhold labor power (Stanford 1991 1.

Primary technical knowledge of land and resources is the one productive force over which Sahtuot'jne and other Dene have retained autonomous control during the past 200 years of contact with and then domination by Western capitalism.'* Northeastern Athapaskans lost economic autonomy when goods acquired through the fur trade became necessities. Dene lost control of their land through treaties with the Canadian government (Fumoleau 1973).13 They lost autonomous control of productive resources as the Canadian government enacted game and fish laws in the Northwest Territories. Tools ot Western manufacture effectively replaced indigenous material technology. The fur trade, mineral extraction, tourist fishing lodges, and even handicraft production siphoned resources from native communities. Creditors such as the Hudson's Bay Company and the Canadian government dominated trade and limited local capital accumulation. Nevertheless, Sahtuot'jne (and other Dene) still control local knowledge, including primary knowledge ot the land and animals that occupy it. This knowledge remains crucially linked to the culturally constructed authority necessary to local production and social organization. Since Sahtuot'jne retain control over such primary knowledge, they used it during the Berger inquiry as an instrument in their attempt to resist turther erosion of social, political, and economic autonomy. Phrased differently, because Sahtuot'jne lacked autonomous control over other productive forces, they focused discourse at the Fort Franklin community hearing on pertinent experience, knowledge, and truth.

According to Giddens, a fundamental characteristic of modern social systems is that social relations and the exchange of intormation are "dis-placed" trom specific "contexts of presence" (1 990:20-21, 141). This necessitates destruction of "the primacy of locally-organized struc- tures" and an "inextricable interweaving" of local and global systems. "Locales are thoroughly penetrated by and shaped in terms ot social influences quite distant from them" (1 990:19). For Giddens, such separation and penetration are accomplished through "abstract systems," which are "disembedding mechanisms" inherent to the development of modern social systems (1 990:21-29). Abstract systems are impersonal principles independent from locale and distinct from local knowledge. The latter is grounded in day-to-day routines and knowledgeability.

"Expert systems," one type ot abstract system, are "systems of technical accomplishment or professional expertise that organize large areas ofthe material and social environments in which we live today" (Giddens 1990:27).14 The institutionalized, tormal knowledge ot specialists and professionals is integrated in expert systems. These systems of knowledge disembed and penetrate by providing "guarantees" of expectations across time-space. The stretching of modern social systems is achieved via the impersonal nature of tests applied to evaluate the technical knowledge (Giddens 1990:28).

Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority 343

Parenthetically, in Barth's paper about "transactions in knowledge," he distinguishes two idealized "ways of knowing," "information economies," or "modes of managing knowledge" (1 990). He labels them the "guru" and the "initiator." Among other differences between the two ideal types, Barth emphasizes their "difference in capacity to proliferate and move" (1 990:647). A guru's knowledge (in the form ofdecontextualized words) may transfer more easily than an initiator's knowledge from one social system to another. In this and several other characteristics such as authorization and legitimation, a guru's knowledge is similar to Giddens'expert systems. In transportability, an initiator's knowledge is similar to local knowledge. An initiator's knowl- edge and local knowledge are linked to context and less transportable than a guru's knowledge or an expert system of technical knowledge (Barth 1990:646-447).

"Trust," according to Giddens, is "confidence in the reliability of a person or system, regarding a set of outcomes or events, where that confidence expresses a faith in the probity or love of another, or in the correctness of abstract principles (technical knowledge)" (1 990:34, paren- thetical materials in original)." The trust people have in expert systems is not, however, personalized, localized, or based on cognitive understanding. Rather, modern trust rests on blind faith in impersonal abstract principles of which people are largely ignorant. It is founded on a pragmatic acceptance that expert systems work, on the authority of regulatory agencies and professional associations, and on the reproduction through modern educational institutions of an attitude of faith in such systems (Giddens 1990:29, 89). Modern trust in expert systems contrasts with localized, personalized, informed trust inherent in premodern systems. Premod- ern trust is founded on social connections and co-presence (Giddens 1990:80,119). In the terms ofthis article, premodern trust is based on primary experience and knowledge.

For Giddens, trust in abstract systems is a necessary condition for time-space distanciation. Trust in expert systems is one mechanism through which modern social systems penetrate premodern systems (1 990:ll 3).16 During the Berger inquiry, Bearlakers and other Dene were inundated with expert testimony by engineers, biologists, geologists, sociologists, anthropolo- gists, and other scientists. Expert witnesses, many paid by multinational corporations, sought through their sworn testimony to assure the Canadian government and people, including Native people, of the feasibility, safety, and socioeconomic benefits of pipeline development. Expert testimony was, however, often unintelligible to Sahtuot'jne and to everyone else uninitiated in the expert systems, including Justice Berger. Expert witnesses expected Justice Berger, Sa- htirot'jne, and other people to trust blindly in the truth of their (the experts') knowledge about pipeline construction and operation.

An example of the expert testimony presented to Justice Berger is provided in Communities of the Mackenzie: Effects of the Hydrocarbon industry (Van Ginkel Associates Ltd. 1975). Fittingly, the authors of this monograph are nameless, depersonalized, and distant experts, a company. Van Ginkel Associates Ltd. prepared their work for Canadian Arctic Gas Study Limited, Gulf Oil Canada Limited, Imperial Oil Limited, and Shell Canada Limited. It is a report of "their analysis of the effects of the Arctic Gas pipeline and related hydrocarbon activities on the relevant communities of the Mackenzie Valley region" (1975:ii). After some introductory remarks, Van Ginkel Associates Ltd. discuss theirmethodology. They present an "approximation model . . , to produce a clearer understanding of relationships, policy options, priorities and the relative importance of elements." They developed the approximation model to gauge "the general impact [of the pipeline] on the region and its communities and [to identify] the options which can maximize net benefits." They say that the model should be worked through in "an iterative manner" (1 975:14). Their model is represented in Figure 1 .

Bearlakers' beliefs about experience, knowledge, truth, and authority caused them to question such expert systems associated with pipeline development. For Sahtuot'jne, the content and practicality of knowledge is significant, but so too is the relationship between an individual and his or her knowledge (Rushforth 1992). Expert systems are abstract, esoteric,

344 american ethnologist

Approximation Model



. I. Regional Goals

Existing Labour Force


Existing Communities



f I

Number and Location of

    Primary jobs
    Secondary jobs


I Loop 1


Labour Force Options



a. Live near jobs

Impact on region of

    Commute from region
    Commute from outside each option

Ranking of options



For each option

nature and extent of

impact on population,

housing, facilities

and income.


Local Enterprise




Construction b

Logistics +--Management F~nancing 4---


Figure 1. Van Cinkel Associates Lld. appro xi ma ti or^ Model (atter Van Cinkel Associates Lttl. 1975:15).

impersonal, and decontextualized. These characteristics place expert systems in direct opposi- tion to the experiential knowledge that Sahtuot'jne prefer in the justification of beliefs. Phrased differently, expert systems are, from the Bearlake perspective, composed largely of secondary knowledge. First, expert systems are beyond the primary experience of uninitiated individuals and of the members of sociocultural systems distant from those within which the expert knowledge originated. Second, expert systems are highly structured and abstract systems of knowledge (see Figure 1 ). Most propositions in expert systems are only indirectly related to experience. Bearlakers understand such propositions as well as any other uninitiated people. Sahtuot'jne are, however, more reluctant than many modern others to accept the truth of the propositions without primary epistemic warrant." Sahtuot'jne consider secondary knowledge unwarranted,of little practical value, and inherently untrustworthy. In thiscontext, trust denotes a nonepistemic, nonempirical reason for belief and is an epistemological as well as a political and ideological phenomenon. For Bearlakers, modern trust is an insufficient reason for believing. Bearlakers do not trust blindly in expert, fetishized knowledge.

Thus, during the Berger inquiry, Sahtuot'jne would not acquiesce to developers' proposals for the land and the future of Native peoples, in part because those proposals were based on secondary, less than fully justified knowledge. Since modern experts generally lacked primary knowledge, Bearlakers and other Dene questioned their veracity and conceded them scant authority. Outsiders had little with which to inspire in Bearlakers either trust or justified belief. Expert witnesses lacked local truth and culturally legitimate authority to influence Sahtuot'jne opinions or conduct. Ironically, many non-native expert witnesses had a similar view of Sahtuot'jne and other Dene knowledgelauthority. Modern expert witnesses questioned the legitimacy of native knowledge because it was not warranted by such nonepistemic reasons as college diplomas and references in academic or professional journals."

Finally, expert systems entail thecommoditization of knowledge and information. As reported earlier, primary knowledge among Sahtuot'jne is not property or commodity (Rushforth 1992). Bearlake primary knowledge, in contradistinction to the knowledge institutionalized in modern expert systems, is not alienated from individuals, transferred to or exchanged with others, concentrated permanently in groups, oremployed as the foundation for durable social hierarchy (Rushforth 1992). The relationship of expert systems to individuals and authority is, conse- quently, fundamentally different from the relationship of Bearlake primary knowledge to individuals and authority. If, as Malinowksi suggested (1 960:61), authority is the essence of social organization, change in the cultural basis of the former will ramify throughout the latter. By resisting the intrusion of expert systems, Sahtuot'jne opposed not only pipeline development, but also potentially wider, more fundamental change in their social lives. Bearlake culture and society, for example, incorporate egalitarian access to experience, knowledge, and authority. To the contrary, modern expert systems presuppose differential access to knowledge coupled with institutionalized, hierarchical authority. Bearlake affirmation of nonlocal expert systems would have implicitly, though unintentionally, legitimized such differential access and hierar- chy. The traditional association between primary knowledge and authority would have been severed and a basis for distantiated truth and power established.

In a previous article, I claimed that the Sahtuot'jne preference for primary knowledge and its relationship to authority derive historically from the Bearlake hunter-gatherer mode of produc- tion (Rushf~rth 1992). This politicaleconomic interpretation of Bearlake knowledge and authority helps us to comprehend not only traditional Bearlake culture and society, but also Sahtuot'jne political resistance to externally controlled economic development in the 1970s. In this article, I suggested that Bearlakers employed their personal experience, knowledge, and

346 american ethnologist

authority to resist pipeline development during the Berger inquiry, in part, because the belief system within which theseepistemological phenomenaare linked wastheonly productive force over which Sahtuot'jne then retained control. I also maintained that the expert systems and modern trust associated with pipeline development threatened local Sahtuot'jne authority and, therefore, the foundation of Bearlake culture and society. Active distrust of expert systems constituted resistance to the impingement of external power and to the erosion of local authority and social organization. The Bearlake preference for primary knowledge and jssociated practices unintentionally supported egalitarian principles within the context of their hunter- gatherer mode of production (Rushforth 1992). The same preference and practices became a Bearlake meansfor resistingexternally imposed social hierarchy, domination, and dependency. Representatives of the modern world sought to appropriate northern resources and to extend their domination over Sahtuot'jne and other Dene by using expert systems of knowledge. Bearlakers responded by asserting local knowledge and truth. They resisted sociocultural change by withholding trust from intrusive expert systems.

In 1977, Justice Berger made his recommendations about pipeline development to the Canadian government (Berger 1977; see also Asch 1986:293-294). The government accepted Berger's most important recommendation that pipeline construction be postponed for at least ten years. The government ignored some of his other suggestions about, for example, ways to bolster the traditional Dene economy. Since then, Dene have sought increasing control over their lives by demanding self-government for the Northwest Territories and negotiating a land claims settlement. When capitalists again propose pipeline development, northern native peoples will occupy a more powerful position. If Sahtuot'jne and other Dene choose, reacquired autonomous control over land and other resources will provide them with means other than primary knowledge, truth, and authority to resist.

Acknowledgments. I thank Michael Asch, Keith H. Basso, Robert Bolin, Diana Bustamante, Nancy Rushforth, and Lois Stanford ior reading an earlier version of this article. I proiited iron1 their criticisms and incorporated some of their suggestions. I also thank anonymous readers for Arnerirai Ethnologist. Their comments were helpful, and I tried to address several of the issues they raised.

    Sahtirot'jne ("Bearlake People") reside in the subarctic bqackenzie District of Canada's Northwest Territories. Their closest cultural, social, and linguistic ties are with other Northwest Territories Dene ("The People," "Northeastern Athapaskan-speaking Native People"), Hare, Mountain, Dogrib, and Slave Indians.

    Anthropologists are presently debating issues pertaining to the isolation and pristine "naturalness" of hunter-gatherers (for example, Headland and Reid 1989; Lee 1991, 1992; Lee and Guenther 1991; Solway and Lee 1990; Wilmsen 1989; Wilmsen and Denbow 1990).

    1 borrow these terms and the general idea underlying the distinction between primary and secondary knowledge from Marshall Swain (1981 :196-240). My definitions of primary and secondary knowledge, however, ditfer somewhat trom his. Except where I cite Swain directly, my account otthis distinction should not be taken to represent his position. Fred Dretske (1969) and Jon Barwise and John Perry (1 983) discuss primary versus secondary see that reports. Their discussion of the semantics and pragmatics ot such English sentences (for example, I see that you left) shows that this distinction is also relevant to the speakers of that language.

    This statement does not imply that direct experience or perception is conceptually neutral. To the contrary, culture mediates all experience. The statement also does not imply that the characteristics otwhat I label primary epistemic evidence are universal. What counts as primary epistemic evidence in one culture might not quality as such in another conceptual system. Bearlakers, for example, consider dream experi- ences to be primary, to provide primary epistemic warrant (Rushforth 1992). This might not be so In other cultures. For discussions of dreaming and knowledge among other Dene see Robln Ridington (1988a, 1988b, 1990). For considerations of this topic among Melanesian peoples, see Michelle Stephen (1 979, 1982).

Bearlake Athapaskan knowledge and authority 347

    1 need to make three points about this definition. First, it incorporates the assumption that knowledge is perspectival or person relative. Second, since an individual may know more than one thing, it is possible that one item oi an individual's knowledge may be dependent on another item oi his or her knowledge. An individual's primary knowledge of one iact may be the basis oi his or her secondary knowledge oi another. A person also may acquire secondary knowledge by reasoning irom his or her primary knowledge. Third, the distinction between primary and secondary knowledge &tails a ioundational view oi knowledge. I am aware that epistemological ioundations are notoriously unreliable. Ethnographically, I adopt a relativist position about such toundations.

    Equal access to knowledge was part of the traditional Bearlake hunter-gatherer mode oi production and has persisted into the modern world. Such equal access to knowledge reilects a general Bearlake disengagement irom private property (Rushiorth 1992). The latter is a common charaderistlc oi noncom- petitive, egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies.

Gender-based ditterences in Sahtuot'jne access to experience, knowledge, and authority were and are minimal, at least in principle. Nevertheless, the traditional Bearlake hunter-gatherer social iormation had a sexual division of labor that persists, in a modiiied iorm, to the present. This means that men and women often have separate experiences, different primary knowledge, and disparate authority in many situations. This topic requires more detailed consideration than I can give it here. Oi particular interest in the modern world is the increasingly adive role that Dene women (including Sahtuot'jne women) play in contemporary religious, educational, and polltical arenas. Henry Sharp has discussed gender issues more thoroughly than most other ethnographers working among Dene (1 988a, 1988b).

7. Michel Foucault is among many social scientists who havediscussed the relationship between power and knowledge (ior example, Dreyius and Rabinow 1982; Foucault 1977,1978,1979,1980,1981,1982). The iollowing statement summarizes one ot Foucault's ideas that is pertinent to this article:

Weshould admit. . . that power and knowledgedirectly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a iield oi knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations. These poweriknowledge relations are to be analyzed thereiore, not on the bas15 ot a subject oi knowledge who is or is not free in relation to the power system, but, on the contrary, the subject who knows, the objects to be known and the modalities of knowledge must be regarded as so many eiieas oi these iundamental implications oi power/knowledge and their historical transformations. In short, it is not the activity oi the subject oi knowledge that produces a corpus ot knowledge, useiul or resistant to power, but power/knowledge, the processes and struggles that traverse it and ofwhich it is made up, that determines the iorms and possibledomainsof knowledge. [I979:27-281

My thesis below is that Bearlakers attempted, within the context oi the Berger Inquiry, to use local powerlknowledge to resist the intrusion of extralocal powerlknowledge.

        The Indian Brotherhood ot the Northwest Territories (the Dene Nation) organized a iormal presentation ot traditional land use at Bear Lake. The Indian Brotherhood also made recommendations about materials Sahtuot'ine needed to cover during the Fort Franklin hearlng. Bearlakers, however, individually decided about the content and torm of thelr personal testimony. The overall structure oidiscourse at the community hearing emerged as a conjunction of individual actions.

        Ridington interprets northeastern Athapaskan Dunne-za legal discourse in a way that complements the analysis that iollows (1 990:186-205, the essay entitled "Cultures in Conilict: The Problem oi Discourse"). Readers may compare my description oi resistance at Fort Franklin to David M. Smith's valuable account oi resistance in another Dene community (1 992).
    1 do not argue that Bearlake epistemology, by itseli, explains what Sahtuot'jne did to oppose pipeline development. There were also other factors that intluencec the content and form oftheir resistance: (1) the negative experiences of contact history that Sahtuot'jne and other Dene share widely among themselves;

(2) land claims issues; (3)conscious policy formulation and implementation by the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories (the Dene Nation); and (4) decisions by speciiic, iniluential individuals about pipeline construction. The Bearlake preierence ior primary knowledge and the social practices associated with this preference were, however, among the factors that influenced public opinion. The preierence and association also resulted in a particular focus for Sahtuot'jne resistance.

    The following statements and my description of the content ot Bearlake testimony at the community hearing accurately summarlze what Bearlakers said. They do not represent a formal linguistic analysis. I am aware ot the linguistic and cultural implications and limitations ot working with a simultaneously translated transcript. I am also cognizant oi the Athapaskan linguistic iorms that would be pertinent to a formal analysis of texts in that language. An analys~s of such iorms is beyond the scope oi this article. My earlier account condenses (trom the simultaneously translated public transcript) what Bearlakers said to Justice Berger. The tollowing statements represent what Bearlakers said they were doing or intending to convey when they spoke. I reiterate, readers should not interpret my efiorts as an attempt at iormal linguistic textual analysis.

    James C. Scott discusses veiled discourse and other "arts oi political disguise" employed by people under domination (1 990). The Bearlake focus on personal experience, knowledge, and authority represents thinly veiled criticism otoutsideexperts. For other discussions of veiled discoursesee, for example, Michelle Rosaldo (1 973), Andrew Strathern (1 9751, and Annette Weiner (1 983).

    In my previous article, I considered the relationship between Bearlake technical and nontechnical or symbolic knowledge (1992). 1 do not claim or imply in the ensuing discussion that Bearlake primary knowledge is equal to technical knowledge. Some primary knowledge is technical. Some technical

348 american ethnologist

knowledge is primary. Much testimony during the Fort Franklin community hearing focused on primary technical knowledge. Hence, I do so here. See Lindstrom (1 984:295-299) ior a discussion of technical and nontechnical knowledge as it relates to inequality in Melanesia.

    When Michael Asch read an earlier version oi this article, he pointed out that this statement implicitly adopts an external, non-native perspective on land issues (Asch 1992). That is, my phrasing appears tacitly to assume that the Canadian government has sovereignty over native lands. I do not intend to support this stance. Dene, including Sahtuot'jne, argue that they have never relinquished aboriginal rights to their lands. Nevertheless, while agreeing with Asch and supporting the natlve position, I retain my original phrasing. The Canadian government has the power to entorce its unilateral decisions about native lands in the Northwest Territories. When I wrote this article, the Canadian government and native peoples ot the Northwest Territories were settling land claims.

    Foucault's concept oi "discipline," which applies primarily to the behavioral and social sciences, is germane here (for example, Foucault 1977, 1981). As noted earlier, Foucault is concerned with knowledge, truth, and their inseparable relations to power. For Foucault, social scientific disciplines are not free ot political activity, tactics, and uses. The power and ideology that thoroughly penetrate society affect knowledge, truth, and rights over the production oidiscourse within disciplines that study humans. Further, according to Foucault, the historical emergence of the behavioral and social sciences was intimately tied to development of "disciplinary technologies" for controlling or "disciplining" people in the context oi modern capitalism. I will not pursue these issues here. In this article, I emphasize Ciddens' concept of "expert systems" because it summarizes clearly the forms oi knowledge and authority in conflict during the Berger inquiry. Lindstrom, in his work on Tanna knowledgeand power (1 990a1, demonstrates the useiulness oi Foucault's concept of discipline to ethnographic analysis.

    SeeJohn Dunn (1 9901, DiegoCambetta(1988),Tim lngold (1990, 1992), and Niklas Luhmann (1 979, 1988) ior additional discussions of trust. Ingold suggests, "The essential diiierence between hunter-gatherer and agrarian sociality . . . is that whereas the latter is based on domination the iormer is based on trust" (1990:l 30). In a later piece, lngold cites Luhmann (1 988) when writing, "Trust . . . presupposes an active, prior engagement with the agencies and entities ot the environment on which we depend; it is an inherent quality oi our relationships with them. To trust others is to act with them in mind, on the expectation that they will do likewise-responding in ways iavorable to us-so long as wedo nothingto curb their autonomy to act otherwise" (1 992:41).

    Ciddens's discussion oi the penetration of premodern by modern social systems is reminiscent oi Weiner's account ot the penetration by one Trobriand Islander oi another's "personal space" (1 9831. According to Weiner, in Trobriand social interaction there is tension between personal autonomy and domination. Trobriand autonomy implies and is achieved by protecting "one's mind" irom the intentions oi others. Trobriand domination means breaking through this boundary "to gain control over someone's mind" and, thereby, "to influence, control and gain from another person." Trobrianders accomplish such penetration by using "words, objects and magical spells" (1983:692). "Hard words" ("speaking what one truly thinks about something" [1983:693]) are among the symbolic devices Trobrianders use to penetrate minds and dominate others. Hard words "have the power to destroy the realities under which individuals tend to go about their lives by exposing another reality-the 'truth' " (1983:705). Here, truth means "the accepted knowledge ot events as they were in the past, as they exlst in the present, and as they are expected to obtain in the iuture" (1983:691). According to Weiner, when Trobrianders publicly express truths, the processes ot penetration oi others' minds (the processes oi domination) are especially vulnerable and exposed (1983:691). Readers may relate the last claim to Ciddens's discussion oi access points and Scott's concept oi public transcript. Weiner's, Ciddens's and Scott's analyses link conceptually with Foucault's. Taken together, these studies reaffirm that individual and social processes ot autonomy and domination can involve a "combat" for or around the truth, using expert systems, hard words, veiled discourse, tropes, or other means. The arts oi resistance and strategies ot domination that people employ when such combat occurs in public settings, as during the Berger inquiry, merit continued cross-cultural investigation.

    1 am not maintaining that Sahtuot'lne are unique in their preierence ior primary epistemic warrant. Nor am I claiming that modern people do not sometimes question expert authority. Keith H. Basso emphasized to me that they do (Basso 1992). Michael Asch, who has worked extensively among Dene, suggested to me that I am describing their "habitual frame" tor the interpretation oi knowledge and authority (Asch 1992). 1 accept this interpretation. Hence, Plerre Bourdieu's notion of "habitus" becomes signiiicant, although I will not pursue this topic now (1977, 1989).

    For a discussion oi symbolic power, experts, the state, and certiticates, read Bourdieu (1989). Foucault's concept of "discipline" is, again, pertinent (see note 14).

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submitted March 20, 1991 revised version submitted April 13, 1992 accepted May 25,1992

352 arnerican ethnologist

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