Cautionary Tales: Making and Breaking Community in the Oil Sands Region

Clinton N. Westman


I consider data from Cree and Métis history, ethnology, and mythology to focus on three transformative modes (integration, disintegration, and media- tion) in relation to concepts of community. I develop an allegorical fantasy of oily monsters, tricksters, and their appetites arising from liquid commodities, in opposition to more integrative ritual practices that have historically underpinned community in the oil sands region of northern Alberta. Specifically, I suggest that (petro)-capitalism can be compared to the monstrous Windigo (not a trick- ster) with respect to its uncontrolled appetites and growth, and also that various proposed technical remediations resemble the vain adventures of the hubristic, foolish, and acquisitive Amerindian Trickster.


oil sands; Aboriginal peoples; community; myth; ritual; petro-cap- italism

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