International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship
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International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson

The comprehensive and thoroughly accessible International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship aims to develop a multidisciplinary theory explaining entrepreneurship as a function of cultural perceptions of opportunity. The Handbook presents a multitude of fascinating, superbly illustrated studies on the facets of entrepreneurship amongst indigenous peoples.
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Chapter 26: The Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay, Cormorant Island, British Columbia

Léo-Paul Dana


26 The Namgis1 First Nation2 of Alert3 Bay, Cormorant4 Island,5 British Columbia6 Léo-Paul Dana Introduction Different societies measure wealth and status in a variety of ways. A European noble might be proud of his title; an American might flaunt his sports car. In Lesotho, wealth is demonstrated by the number of cattle owned (see Chapter 9 in this volume). Along the west coast of British Columbia, Indigenous people traditionally used thin shield-shaped pieces of copper, referred to as coppers, to represent wealth and power. These documented significant traditions and particular events, and the value of any one copper increased with time, unless broken.7 The mythical Wealthy One – also referred to as Kumugwe or Copper Maker – is said to have a house made of copper, at the bottom of the sea. Franz Boas was among the first social scientists who focused on Indigenous people in this region.8 Boas wrote, ‘The Pacific Coast of America between Juan de Fuca Strait and Yakutat Bay is inhabited by a great many Indian tribes distinct in physical characteristics and distinct in languages, but one in culture. Their arts and industries, their customs and beliefs, differ so much from those of all other Indians that they form one of the best defined cultural groups of our continent’ (1897, p. 317). Benedict elaborated: ‘They were a people of great possessions . . . Their civilization was built upon an ample supply of goods, inexhaustible, and obtained without excessive expenditure of labour’ (1935, p....

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