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date: 23 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Canadians continue to grapple with the consequences of colonial encounters with indigenous peoples in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This period of “western expansionism” was a key moment in Canadian history, when the country was linked from ocean to ocean by the railroad and First Nation groups under duress signed treaties with the colonial government. Through the lenses of dance, performance, and postcolonial theory, this chapter explores the contest for identity and power as settlers arrived to claim land that was the traditional home of indigenous peoples. During these decades, the government banned dancing by indigenous people as part of a range of measures to force assimilation, yet entrepreneurs simultaneously promoted native dance spectacles to attract tourists. Accounts of indigenous performances also reveal cracks in the façade of the imperial epic, and show First Nations people accessing theatricalization for their own purposes as they weather the onslaught of change.

Keywords: colonialism, nationhood, indigenous, settlers, performance, whiteness, dance

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