School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Archival Science and Aboriginal Identity

“In the end the written archive had more value than the evidence of oral tradition, the memories of witnesses, and the intersubjective practice of fieldwork. In the courtroom how could one give value to an undocumented ‘tribal’ life largely invisible (or unheard) in the surviving record?” – JamesClifford, “Identity in Mashpee,”

AUDIENCE: Students and researchers interested in an archival approach to First Nations history, colonial history, and Aboriginal jurisprudence will be interested in this workshop.

INSTRUCTOR: Raymond Frogner holds a Master’s degree in social history from the University of Victoria and a Master of Archival Studies degree from the University of British Columbia. He has worked with records of Aboriginal identity as an archivist at the British Columbia Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. He has published and delivered conference presentations on the issue of archives and Aboriginal identity.

COURSE GOAL: The goal of this course is to examine the relationship between the body of knowledge commonly referred to as archival studies, and the creation, use and preservation of the memory of Aboriginal peoples’ cultural and social identity. This course will concentrate on the meaning of the archival record of Aboriginal identity as it emerged from narratives of the Canadian colonial and post-colonial settlement process. Building on an understanding of western archival convention, the course will deconstruct the creation and meaning of the early archival records of colonial Aboriginal identity: those records which emerged at the point of European explorers and settlers asserting their legal sovereignty and jurisdiction in colonial spaces. With the making and preservation of Aboriginal colonial identity considered in a western archival sense, the course will in conclusion examine new paradigms in the relationship between conventional archival process and traditional practices of Aboriginal remembrance in a post-colonial era. It will recognize Aboriginal traditions of enduring memory and their expression of social, political, and legal identity and consider strategies for its coherence, expression, and meaningful archival preservation within and without the framework of the Canadian federal constitution.

OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
• Understand the pillars of traditional archival science and how they apply to traditional methods of Aboriginal memory;
• Discuss the key developments and cases of Canadian Aboriginal jurisprudence and how they used archival resources;
• Know how to research the principal archival resources of Aboriginal history with a focus on Western Canada;
• Provide archival comment on contemporary issues of Aboriginal rights such as the BC Treaty Commission and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada;
• Comment on new paradigms in the relationship between traditional archival method and Aboriginal memory.

Course method and evaluation:

The course will be presented in a series of lectures, presentations, and discussions. Two UofA professors will deliver separate presentations one concerning the Métis National Council on-line Database; and the other the history of Native/Settler relations and Aboriginal jurisprudence. 

Course Readings: Archival Science and Aboriginal Identity – LIS 598

Day 1


Archival Convention: Appraisal & Description



O  Cook, Terry. “What’s Past is Prologue.” Archivaria 43 (Spring 1997): pp. 19-63.

O  Duranti, Luciana. “The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory.” The American Archivist 57 (Spring 1994): 328- 45.

O  _____________. “Diplomatics: New Uses for an Old Science.” Archivaria 28 (Summer 1989): 7-27.

O  Pylypchuck, Mary-Anne, “A Documentary Approach to Aboriginal Archives,” Archivaria 33 (Winter 1991-92): 117-124.


  • Booms, Hans. “Uberlieferungsbildung: Keeping Archives as a Social and Political Activity.” Archivaria 33 (Winter 1991-92): 25-33.
  • Cox, Richard. “Documentation Strategy and Archival Appraisal Principles: A Different Perspective.” Archivaria 38 (Fall 1994): 11-36.
  • Jenkinson, Hilary. “Modern Archives: Some Reflections on T.R. Schellenberg: Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques.” Journal of the Society of Archivists 1 (April 1955): 147-49.
  • Kolsrud, Ole. “The Evolution of Basic Appraisal Principles. Some Comparative Observations.” The American Archivist 55, 1 (Winter 1992): 26-39.
  • MacNeil, Heather. Trusting Records: Legal, Historical, and Diplomatic Perspectives. London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000. (Ch. 1).
  • ______________. “Trusting Records in a Postmodern World,” Archivaria 51, Spring 2001, p. 36.
  • McRanor, Shawna. “Maintaining the Reliability of Aboriginal Oral Records and Their Material Manifestations: Implications for Archival Practice,” Archivaria, 43 (Spring 1997): pp 64-88.
  • Samuels, Helen W. “Who Controls the Past?” The American Archivist 49, 2 (Spring 1986): 109-24.
  • William Pearce Web Site, UofA Archives:








Day 2


Aboriginal Jurisprudence and Archival Convention



O  Barsh, R.L. and Henderson, J.Y. “The Supreme Court’s Van der Peet Trilogy: Naïve Imperialism and Ropes of Sand,” McGill Law Journal 42 (1997), pp.993-1009.

O  Borrows, John. "Sovereignty's Alchemy: An Analysis of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia,” (Fall 1999) 37 Osgoode Hall Law Journal, pp. 537-596.

O  Lysyk, Stephanie, P. “Evidentiary issues-oral tradition evidence.” The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia,

O  McHugh, P.G. Aboriginal Societies and the Common Law: A History of Sovereignty, Status, and Self-Determination. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.(ch. 2, pp 61-117).

O  Rush, Stuart. “Use of Oral History Evidence in Aboriginal Rights Litigation,” The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia.


Guest Speakers:

*      Dr. Val Napoleon (Faculties of Law & Native Studies)

*      Rene Georgopalis MA, MISt (archivist Musée Héritage Museum)

*      Dr. Keavey Martin (Aboriginal Literature, Dept. of Literature and Film Studies).

*      Dr. Frank Tough (Faculty of Native Studies)



  • Borrows, J, & Rotman, L.I.  “The Sui Generis nature of Aboriginal Rights: Does it make a Difference?” Alberta Law Review, vol.36, no. 1 (1997): 9-45.
  • Napoleon, Val. “Delgamuukw: A Legal Straightjacket for Oral History.” Canadian Journal of Law and Society 20 (2005): 123-155.
  • Frogner, Raymond. “Innocent Legal Fictions” Archivaria 70 (Fall 2010): 45-94.



Day 3


Aboriginal Heritage and Identity -- Old Repositories and New Directions


Student Presentations:

v  Aboriginal Jurisprudence and Aboriginal Evidence: Summaries of important Supreme Court decisions, the provenance and interpretation of Common Law legal evidence.

  • Aboriginal Jurisprudence, Legislation, and Statutes:
    (All Court decisions are freely available on line at the Canadian Legal Information web site: )

--Calder v. Attorney-General of British Columbia, 7 C.N.L.R. 91,   [1973]
--Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010
--R. v. Sparrow, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1075
--R. v. Van der Peet, [1996] 2 S.C.R. 507
--Mitchell v. M.N.R., [2001] 1 S.C.R. 911, 2001 SCC 33
--St. Catherine’s Milling and Lumber Company v. R. 2 C.N.L.C. 541 (1889).
--R v. Guerin [1985] 2 S.C.R. 335
--Royal Proclamation of 1763 R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. I.
--R. v. White and Bob, (1964), 50 D.L.R. (2d) 613
-- Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35, (R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. 44).

--R. v. White and Bob (B.C.A.A) 1964.

-- Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia (2007) B.C.S.C.

-- R. v. Powley (2003) S.C.R.

--Benoit v. Canada (2002) S.C.R.


The Protocols for Native American Materials. (Salamanca, 2006) .

O  Hugh A. Taylor, “Transformation in the Archives: Technological Adjustment or Paradigm Shift?” Archivaria 25 (Winter 1987–88), pp. 12–28.

Encoded Archival Context (EAC)

 (accessed on 19 May 2010).

O   Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada





  • Duncan’s First Nation Inquiry, 1928 Surrender Claim
  • Elisabeth Kaplan, “’Many Paths to Partial Truths: Archives, Anthropology, and the Power of Representation,” Archival Science 2 (2002), p. 211.