Author Tags: First Nations, Forts and Fur
Arthur J. Ray, B.A., M.S., Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin), is a UBC history professor emeritus specializing in the historical geography of First Nations people of Canada.
In 1973, the Supreme Court's historic Calder decision on the Nisga'a community's title suit in British Columbia launched the First Nations rights litigation era in Canada. Arthur J. Ray's extensive knowledge in the history of the fur trade and Native economic history brought him into the courts as an expert witness in the mid-1980s.
“In Vancouver, in Courtroom 53 of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, where most of the Delgamuukw trial took place,” he recalls, “distrust prevailed… Certainly searching for nuanced interpretations of the past is not a primary goal of litigation. My sense of frustration and irritation in the witness box in Delgamuukw led me to attend most of the subsequent court proceedings in that case. I also helped the members of the Gitxsan-Wet’suet’en’s legal team to develop their cross-examinations of many of the government’s key historical experts.”
Ever since he has been a part of landmark litigation concerning treaty rights, Aboriginal title, and Métis rights.
Legal claims have raised questions with significant historical implications, such as, "What treaty rights have survived in various parts of Canada? What is the scope of Aboriginal title? Who are the Métis, where do they live, and what is the nature of their culture and their rights?"
In Telling It to the Judge, Ray recalls lengthy courtroom battles over lines of evidence, historical interpretation, and philosophies of history, reflecting on the problems inherent in teaching history in the adversarial courtroom setting. Ray's narrative describes courtroom strategies in the efforts to obtain constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights.
Ray's illustrated history entitled I Have Lived Here Since The World Began chronicles 12,000 years to set out the historical and cultural arguments for First Nations' land claims and other grievances. A revised edition contains new information on Donald Marshall and Mi'kmaq fishing rights in Nova Scotia. He contributed the section on Native history to the Illustrated History of Canada.
Intended to appeal to a broad audience, Arthur J. Ray's Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History (McGill-Queen's 2016) is an unprecedented, comparative overview of indigenous rights law and claims legislation in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. He examines how different processes have enhanced the use of historical evidence and incorporation of indigenous voices, as well as stimulating scholarly debates.
The recipient of the UBC Killam Research Prize, Arthur J. Ray works as a consultant on First Nations' claims across the country.
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
I Have Lived Here Since the World Began: An Illustrated History of Canda's Native People
Old Trials and New Directions: Papers of the Third North American Fur Trade Conference
Telling it to the Judge: Taking Native History
Ray, Arthur J. Indians in the Fur Trade: Their Roles as Trappers, Hunters, and Middlemen in the Lands Southwest of Hudson Bay, 1660-1870 (University of Toronto Press, 1974, 1998).
Ray, Arthur J. The Canadian Fur Trade in the Industrial Age (University of Toronto Press, 1990).
Ray, Arthur J. I Have Lived Here Since The World Began (Key Porter, 1996, 2005).
Ray, Arthur J. Telling It to the Judge: Taking Native History to Court (McGill-Queen's Native and Northern Series #65 Cloth (0773539522) 9780773539525 Release date: 2011-11-01 CA $34.95 | US $34.95
Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History (McGill-Queen's 2016) $29.95 978-0-7735-4743-8