Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James DaschukClearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk

Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life

byJames Daschuk

Hardcover | May 13, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info

$10.00 online 
$39.95 list price
Earn 50 plum® points

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


In arresting, but harrowing, prose, James Daschuk examines the roles that Old World diseases, climate, and, most disturbingly, Canadian politics--the politics of ethnocide--played in the deaths and subjugation of thousands of aboriginal people in the realization of Sir John A. Macdonald's "National Dream."

It was a dream that came at great expense: the present disparity in health and economic well-being between First Nations and non-Native populations, and the lingering racism and misunderstanding that permeates the national consciousness to this day.

"Clearing the Plains is a tour de force that dismantles and destroys the view that Canada has a special claim to humanity in its treatment of indigenous peoples. Daschuk shows how infectious disease and state-supported starvation combined to create a creeping, relentless catastrophe that persists to the present day. The prose is gripping, the analysis is incisive, and the narrative is so chilling that it leaves its reader stunned and disturbed. For days after reading it, I was unable to shake a profound sense of sorrow. This is fearless, evidence-driven history at its finest." -Elizabeth A. Fenn, author of Pox Americana

"Required reading for all Canadians." -Candace Savage, author of A Geography of Blood

"Clearly written, deeply researched, and properly contextualized history...Essential reading for everyone interested in the history of indigenous North America." -J.R. McNeill, author of Mosquito Empires
James Daschuk has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Manitoba. He is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina and a researcher with the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit.
Title:Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal LifeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:340 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.12 inPublished:May 13, 2013Publisher:University of Regina PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889772967

ISBN - 13:9780889772960

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 4 out of 5 by from I love this book I enjoyed reading the book couldn't put it down buuut it felt like i bought a video game. Half the book is list of other books that supports the facts but it shouldn't have taken so much space.
Date published: 2015-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life A very moving, well researched and well written work which on the whole avoids the polemics which are so often attached to works on relations between first nations and the rest of us. Oddly enough the HBC comes out with pretty good marks, functioning as the government of the lands draining into Hudsons Bay much more effectively and with greater care for the resident population than the succesor government in Ottawa. I learned a lot about things as various as how the horse trading network was organized from south to north, the interplay between Indian policy in the US and in Canada, as well as the impact of disease on the distribution of the tribes over time across North America. In other words the book is not just about the Canadian western plains, but puts the history of the plains into the continental context. In the end, for the first time in my life it may me feel ashamed to be a Canadian. But at the same time it also made me proud that we are at last acquiring the ability to look at this aspect of our history with more breadth and integrity than heretofore. My rating: five stars.
Date published: 2014-07-08

Table of Contents



1. Indigenous Health, Environment, and Disease before Europeans

2. The Early Fur Trade: Territorial Dislocation and Disease

3. Early Competition and the Extension of Trade and Disease, 1740-82

4. Despair and Death during the Fur Trade Wars, 1783-1821

5. Expansion of Settlement and Erosion of Health during the HBC Monopoly, 1821-69

6. Canada, the Northwest, and the Treaty Period, 1869-76

7. Treaties, Famine, and Epidemic Transition on the Plains, 1877-82

8. Dominion Administration of Relief, 1883-85

9. The Nadir of Indigenous Health, 1886-91