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Open book: Ex­cerpt from Trav­ellers through Em­pire: Indige­nous

Voy­ages from Early Canada. Re­views: Shared am­bi­tions. Con­tested ground. Be­yond ap­pre­hen­sion. More books: Con­fed­er­a­tion di­ary, Sal­ish weav­ing, New­found­land de­fend­ers, Vi­ola Des­mond’s coun­try.

A new book records the sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences of some of the many Indige­nous peo­ple who trav­elled to Bri­tain and other parts of the world in the late eigh­teenth cen­tury and dur­ing the nine­teenth cen­tury. Their trips were un­der­taken for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing mis­sion­ary work, ed­u­ca­tion, per­form­ing, and ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of their com­mu­ni­ties.

On their voy­ages they were re­ceived with cu­rios­ity and of­ten as celebri­ties, some­times speak­ing be­fore huge au­di­ences and meet­ing with roy­alty and lead­ing fig­ures of the day. But their jour­neys took place at a time when hu­man­i­tar­ian per­spec­tives were mixed with colo­nial and as­sim­i­la­tion­ist poli­cies.

In Ce­cilia Mor­gan’s Trav­ellers through Em­pire: Indige­nous Voy­ages from Early

Canada we find peo­ple such as Peter Jones (Kahke­waquon­aby) and Ge­orge Cop­way (Kahge­gagabowh), mem­bers of the Mis­sis­sauga peo­ple of Up­per Canada who were also Methodist mis­sion­ar­ies as part of a nine­teenth-cen­tury global mis­sion­ary move­ment.

We also read about Jones’ niece Cather­ine Sut­ton (Nah­nee­bah­wee­qua). Af­ter sev­eral moves by her fam­ily and other Indige­nous peo­ple, they were de­nied ac­cess to their lands. Sut­ton was se­lected to rep­re­sent them by trav­el­ling to London — where she was re­ceived by Queen Vic­to­ria — and her fam­ily was even­tu­ally al­lowed to buy back their land.

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