Recently, the historical validity of concepts of aboriginality has been questioned. It is argued here that aboriginality has been and remains a significant feature of identity and a source of cultural renewal in a rapidly changing world. The nature of aboriginality must always be qualified and contextualized. In Canada, a specific notion of aboriginality is an administrative tool of government that at all times is partially accepted and partially opposed by those so defined and administrated. In the example described here, the missionary William Duncan denied the concept of aboriginality presented by his Tsimshian flock as well as that enunciated by the Canadian government. Today, the descendants of these mission communities have ontological identities linked not only to Christian modernity but also to Tsimshian aboriginality defined one way by the government and quite differently by each local community.
Richard Daly and Val Napoleon
Both community activism and anthropological research affect local
communities materially, whether this research is conducted by ‘ac-
tivists’ or ‘objectivists’. It is ethically and methodologically important
that these activisms be recognized and built into the subject of the
research. Aboriginal rights litigation entails both explicit and implicit
activism by all concerned, although few admit as much. In this light,
some of the effects of such activism on a local community engaged in
aboriginal rights litigation in Canada are discussed in the form of a dia-
logue between an anthropologist and a community activist who is now
working in aboriginal law.