Javier Mignone, PhD and
John O’Neil, PhD
Centre for Aboriginal Health Research
Department of Community Health Sciences
University of Manitoba

The study examined the concept of social capital in First Nations communities. Its two main goals
were to clearly define social capital and to create culturally-appropriate methods for measuring it
in First Nations communities. The research was conducted with the participation of three First
Nations communities in Manitoba. After offering a brief summary of the findings of the study, the
paper discusses social capital as a determinant of health in First Nations communities and possible
research and policy implications.
Key Words
First Nations, health determinants, social capital
• captures social elements that are relevant from a
First Nations community perspective; and
• offers a meaningful structure from which to theorize
and empirically study potential pathways between
social environmental factors and health.
In response to a request from the HIR Committee
of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, a study proposal
was produced to develop a conceptual framework of
social capital and to create culturally-appropriate
methods for measuring it in First Nations communities.
With funding from the Canadian Population
Health Initiative of the Canadian Institute for Health
Information, the study was conducted between January
2001 and December 2002.
Three First Nations communities from Manitoba
were chosen to be part of the study by the HIR Committee
from seven that had volunteered. (See Table 1
for information on these communities.5) The study
hired a co-ordinator (Janet Longclaws) and 10 research
assistants from the three communities to conduct
the fieldwork and provide ongoing consultation.
The study consisted of two phases. The first phase
of the study had two aims: to contribute to the development
of the conceptual framework and to generate
a list of survey questions. Over a period of about three
weeks in each community, researchers collected primary
data through a combination of in-depth interviews,
informal focus groups, participant observation,
archival research, and unobtrusive observations. A total
of 89 people were interviewed.
Following the interview process, researchers identified
dimensions of social capital to measure and developed
a questionnaire. During the second phase of
the study, after extensive feedback and seven drafts,
the questionnaire was pilot-tested. Community research
assistants surveyed 462 randomly selected
adults from the three communities. The large size of
the sample allowed researchers to conduct a series of
analyses to determine the reliability and validity of
the questionnaire. The results of the study were
shared with representatives from the communities
that participated in the study and with the HIR Committee.
The authors combined an extensive analysis of the
conceptual development of social capital in the scientific
literature with a thematic analysis of the qualitative
data collected in community fieldwork. Details of
this analysis are presented elsewhere.6 In this paper,
the author’s summarize the broad dimensions of the
concept and provide examples of various dimensions
drawn from the fieldwork.
Social capital has been defined in different ways by
numerous writers.7 The common notion is that social
capital of a community is composed of the following
elements: social relationships, networks, social norms
and values, trust, and resources. As well, some authors8
formulated three dimensions of social capital:
bonding, bridging, and linkage. When this conceptual
model was tested against the field data collected in
First Nations communities, the authors concluded that
social capital in a First Nation community is based on
the degree to which:
• the community’s resources are socially invested;
• there is the existence of a culture of trust, norms of
reciprocity, collective action, and participation; and
• the community possesses inclusive, flexible, and
diverse networks.
The following definition summarizes the conceptual
findings of the study. Social capital characterizes
a First Nation community based on the degree that its
resources are socially invested; that it presents a culture
of trust, norms of reciprocity, collective action,
and participation; and that it possesses inclusive, flexible,
and diverse networks. Social capital of a community
is assessed through a combination of its bonding
(relations within the community), bridging (relations
with other communities), and linkage (relations with
formal institutions) dimensions.
The level of social capital of a community is assessed
through a combination of its three dimensions
(see Table 2 for overall framework).
• Bonding: relations within each First Nation community
• Bridging: horizontal links with other communities,
whether they are First Nations communities or
other communities (e.g., urban centres)
Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005 27
Table 1: First Nations Communities Involved in the Study
1 Ojibway/Dakota Close to small city 1,602
2 Cree Isolated–500km to closest city 1,891
rail access some distance from community
3 Cree Semi-isolated–road access 4,065
• Linkage: connections between a particular First
Nation community and institutions like
federal/provincial government departments and
public/private corporations (e.g., Manitoba Hydro,
Each of the three dimensions has three components:
• Socially Invested Resources: the resources used for
the benefit of the community as a whole
• Culture:9 the relations within the community and
between communities and institutions that are characterized
by trust, norms of reciprocity, collective
action, and participation
• Networks: within the community and between
communities and institutions that are inclusive,
flexible, and diverse
For the component socially invested resources, the
social capital framework includes five descriptors:
physical, symbolic, financial, human, and natural.
For example, physical resources would be building a
recreation centre or paving community roads. Symbolic
would be resources that strengthen cultural
identity like cultural camps or Aboriginal language
programs. An example of financial resources would
be access to credit to help people start small businesses.
Human resources would be those that help increase
the abilities of people through formal or informal
education. Natural resources would be land or
water that has been protected from pollutants or
Resources can be consumed, stored, or invested.
Capital is a resource that is invested to create new resources.
Socially invested resources are considered
aspects of social capital in this framework because
they are resources that are invested for the good of the
entire community, not just for some privileged few individuals.
Thus, socially invested resources should be
assessed by a combination of the amount of resources
invested and the degree to which they are invested to
the benefit of the whole community. The following
are a few examples that illustrate these ideas.
Examples of the Socially Invested
Resources Component
Cultural camps for children and youth are held in
one of the communities.
[T]hey’d show the kids how to snare [and]
trap beaver; skin beaver, rats, muskrats,
moose–anything that tracks. They would always
talk Cree. They would make bannock
over the fire, you know, what the people used
to do a long time ago. That’s what they did
with the kids.”
The following observation was made on the relationship
with banks. It points to difficulties in this
With the majority of Native people, I think
it’s either you have poor credit, no credit or
bankrupt . . . and because of that, a lot of band
members have limited access or no access to
funding to start their own businesses.
The culture component has four descriptors: trust,
norms of reciprocity, collective action, and participation.
First Nations communities with higher levels of
trust between community members as well as with
community authorities; with stronger positive norms
of reciprocity between individuals and groups; with
more potential for collective action; and with a higher
willingness to participate in community activities
would be considered as possessing higher stocks of
Mignone and O’Neil
28 Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005
Table 2: Social Capital Framework
Physical Trust Inclusive
Symbolic Norms of reciprocity Flexibility
Financial Collective action Diverse
Human Participation
Physical Trust Inclusive
Symbolic Norms of reciprocity Flexibility
Financial Collective action Diverse
Human Participation
Physical Trust Inclusive
Symbolic Norms of reciprocity Flexibility
Financial Collective action Diverse
Human Participation
SIR = Socially Invested Resources
social capital. An example of positive culture would
be a community where people trust chief and council
or in general think well of other families; community
members are willing to get together to work for common
causes; people are willing to volunteer in community
activities; and individuals tend to return
favours. The following are a few examples that illustrate
these ideas.
Examples of the Culture Component
Norms of Reciprocity
There are norms in our community where
people do things for other people. It’s not
written down in stone anywhere. It’s just part
of the culture. If someone is building a house
and says, I need a screw-gun, yeah I have a
box, go to my shed and get it. And that person
later, the one who loaned the thing may say, I
need to borrow an axe of him, and goes back
to the guy that borrowed from him.
The loss of participation at a linkage level was
made graphic by one person’s statement.
Yes, I guess part of our practice, part of our
culture, is doing a lot of community consultation
. . . and the federal government slashed
that piece of it . . . We used to have community
co-ordinators who would do the consultation,
set up workshops to inform the people
about the changes. The federal government
argued that we were doing too much consultation.
Networks can be characterized by how inclusive,
diverse, and flexible they are. Higher degrees of these
three characteristics would imply higher levels of social
capital. Inclusive networks are those that are relatively
welcoming of newcomers and to the exchange
of information with newcomers. Diversity implies the
co-existence of a number of different networks that
are capable of interacting in a meaningful way. Flexibility
means that the networks can adapt to new, different,
or changing needs. Inclusiveness, diversity,
and flexibility are actually interrelated qualities. They
are different aspects of the same phenomenon. In general,
a correlation among these three descriptors of
networks should be expected. The following are a few
examples that illustrate these ideas.
Examples of the Networks Component
The following comment illustrates a lack of flexibility.
You hear a lot of animosities that are carried
forward from years back. I’ve also heard so
and so and his family did so and so to this
family and so we are not talking to so and so.
There is a lot that is carried on for quite a few
Another individual from one of the communities
expressed concern over the lack of diverse bridging
We have to learn how to network with one another
. . . even network with our First Nations,
even the ones that are the most successful,
that have all those facilities in their First Nations.
How did you do it? Can you lend us a
hand over here?
Other authors have recognized that although
. . . the health maintenance and illness care of
individuals are known to be major determinants
of health . . . they are still often investigated
as discrete behaviours separated from
the interplay of social and psychosocial forces
that shape them.10
According to them,
. . . this approach limits knowledge regarding
their role in shaping health, the forces that
maintain behavioural practices and the potential
of approaches to changing them.
Health is the product of multiple levels of influence.
These include genetic and biologic processes,
individual behaviours, and the context within which
people live–the social environment. A multi-level approach
to community health requires society to take
into consideration, and act upon, social determinants.
Social capital has been put forward as a characteristic
of the social environment and thus as a potential de-
Social Capital as a Health Determinant in First Nations
Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005 29
terminant of health. However, for social capital to be
identified as a health determinant, three steps are required.
First, a clear understanding of how social capital
can characterize a community is needed. The previous
section provided an overview of the formulation
created from the author’s study. Second, a model presenting
the plausibility of social capital as a factor in
health is required. This section will provide ideas for
this model. Third, studies that may produce evidence
that confirms or contradicts the theory that social capital
is a determinant of health are also needed. Studies
like the 2002 wave of the Manitoba portion of the
First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey
are gathering data on social capital that will enable
these analyses. The last section of this paper will address
further research requirements of this type.
Community social capital as discussed in this study
was based on the concept that this capital pertains to
the entire community. All components of the conceptual
framework emphasize this. A key difference between
this formulation of social capital and that of
other authors is the multidimensional notion of the
concept. Based on initial ideas by Michael Woolcock
and Deepa Narayan,11 the authors further developed
these ideas in a comprehensive framework pertinent
to First Nations communities. The differences between
bonding, bridging, and linkage social capital
means a community can have higher levels of bonding
social capital while at the same time lower levels
of linkage social capital when compared to another
community, for example. This implies that there can
be relative independence among the three dimensions.
As Woolcock has indicated:
. . . a multidimensional approach allows us to
argue that it is different combinations of
bonding, bridging and linking social capital
that are responsible for the range of outcomes
we observe, and to incorporate a dynamic
component in which optimal combinations
change over time.12
The importance of separating the three dimensions is
that it captures the reality that communities do not exist
in isolation, but in relationship with other communities
and with institutions.
The decision of a community to invest in cultural
camps and/or First Nations language programs for
their children has the potential of increasing the cultural
identity of its youth, thus strengthening the community.
One of the central effects of colonization was
the disruption of the cultural continuity of First Nations
and the destruction of the sense of pride as a
people. This resulted in serious effects on the health
and well-being of generations. The resurgence of First
Nations ceremonies, practices, and values has already
shown to have powerful healing qualities. Researchers
investigating the relations of social to biological
processes in disease argue that:
. . . the enormous complexity of human society
and man’s capacity through his symbol
system to identify with more powerful beings–
gods, or chosen leaders or institutions–
give him certain invulnerability to limbic system
arousal as long as he perceives himself to
be socially supported here or in the hereafter.
But, if as the result of early or late experience
or a combination of both, he comes to perceive
himself as helpless and lacking power
to control his fate, he may well become more
vulnerable . . . (to illness).13
This is why symbolic socially invested resources are
so important, whether they be within the community
(bonding), jointly with other communities (bridging),
or in interaction with institutions (linkage).
A community with higher levels of social capital
would be expected to have a culture of trust, participation,
collective action, and norms of reciprocity.
There has been increasing evidence in population
health studies that communities where people tend to
trust each other live under less stressful conditions.
Stress has been recognized as an important pathway to
health or illness.14 However, trust among community
members is only one aspect of social capital (bonding).
Trust among members of different communities
(bridging) can also have significant impacts. The possibility
of learning from what others are doing, the
willingness to share resources or information, and the
enjoyment of positive relations with other communities
impact the well-being of community members.
Organizations like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
have created spaces of trust, participation, and collective
action among communities. This increase in
bridging social capital has already had a positive impact
in addressing health needs of First Nations.
Studies have shown that the quality of social networks
impacts on health. Rigid social networks that
exclude others from information or even meaningful
social contact are harmful to health. For example, the
feeling of exclusion or social isolation has a powerful
impact on self-esteem while the lack of information
about resources or opportunities limits the access to
Mignone and O’Neil
30 Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005
those resources and thus to well-being. Studies have
related social isolation to an array of adverse health
outcomes.15 Communities with flexible, inclusive,
and diverse networks tend to develop a social environment
that is more conducive to health because
fewer people will be left out of opportunities, dialogue,
information, and resources. The same can be
said of relations with other communities (bridging)
and with institutions (linkage). A community that has
a series of well established networks with institutions
will have a better possibility of obtaining resources or
opportunities, thus increasing its well-being.
In summary, and paraphrasing other authors,16 decreased
social capital may cause or indicate unjust,
exclusive social policies; unequal patterns of participation;
and decreased trust, any of which may affect
health. Lower social capital might impact the society’s
influence over an individual’s health behaviours,
cause or indicate increased uncertainty about the future,
or affect access to health services and information.
Decreased social capital might weaken informal
social support systems, lead to social policies that do
not emphasize preventive services, or impact economic
structures resulting in fewer educational or occupational
Diagram 1, adapted from Shelley Taylor, Rena
Repetti, and Teresa Seeman,17 provides an outline of
partial pathways between social capital and health that
may link to form more complex pathways. It is a preliminary
model that requires further adjustments, development,
and testing. Nonetheless, together with a
clear conceptual framework of social capital, it provides
a basis for guiding future research and policy.
As other authors have indicated, “social determinants
of health are societal conditions that affect
health and can potentially be altered by social and
health policies and programs.”18 The arguments suggest
that health is impacted to a large extent by policies
defined outside of traditional health policy areas.
More so, they highlight how policies that affect the
life of communities should be a source of consideration
because of their role in ultimately reducing health
risks and improving resistance.
Several levels of policy require examination–federal,
provincial, regional, and community levels. In
relation to areas of policy, these cover a wide range. A
central argument of this paper is that health is affected
by community-level factors and, consequently, communities
need to be identified as objects of policy.
Policy decisions, at whatever level, need to take into
account how they impact communities’ social capital.
Take as an example a situation where the chief and
council of a community are debating whether to allow
video lottery terminals to be introduced. From a
strictly financial point of view, this could be
favourable for band administration funds. However,
potential negative impacts in the community’s social
capital would have to be considered in the decision. If
the video lottery terminals were to negatively impact
families or norms of reciprocity within the community,
these considerations could outweigh potential
On the other hand, investment in organizing powwows
could have a positive impact both within the
community and among communities, despite funding
requirements. The understanding that these factors ultimately
have an impact on health and well-being of
community members would provide a more accurate
information basis for policy decisions.
As a study on Amish communities demonstrated:
. . . their success is primarily due to the sophisticated
organizational structures and prac-
Social Capital as a Health Determinant in First Nations
Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005 31
Diagram 1i
o S
i S.E. Taylor, R.L. Repetti, and T. Seeman, “Health Psychology:
What is an Unhealthy Environment and How Does it
Get Under the Skin?” Annual Review of Psychology , Vol. 48
(1997) p. 411-447.
tices that promote and preserve social capital
in their community . . . with keen social capital
consciousness their leaders and members
have adopted and fine-tuned efficient and culturally
appropriate practices to preserve their
sociability and solidarity.19
Communities need deliberate policies and co-ordinated
efforts to sustain social capital in the face of ongoing
political and economic conditions as well as
evolving technological and social forces.
The three-dimensional understanding of social capital
provides an initial framework from where to develop
policies at the different levels. A northern Manitoba
First Nations community has experienced a
cluster of youth suicides. One of the needs identified
by community members and leadership was the development
of recreational facilities and programs for
children and youth. The expectation was that these
initiatives would reduce youth suicide risk factors to
some extent. A large recreational facility was constructed.
However, it has not opened because of contractual
disagreements between the chief and council
and the construction company, and with Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada. From a social capital perspective,
this can be understood as contributing significantly
to low linkage social capital. Given the
severity of the situation among youth, federal department
policy should take social capital as a critically
important factor relevant to health and should focus
on resolving the dispute to open the recreation centre
for community use.
Recently, the City of Winnipeg unveiled a strategy
aimed at reducing poverty, improving housing, and
creating jobs for the Aboriginal community. Among
the initiatives, a transition service was proposed to
help First Nations people who move to Winnipeg
from rural reserves. This could be viewed both as a
socially invested resource of linkage social capital and
as increased diversity and inclusiveness of bridging
networks. If this initiative is implemented in full, it
would be expected to improve the health and well-being,
among other benefits, of First Nations individuals
affected by the transition to the city.
The concept of social capital offers a lens that
takes into account historical factors as they are embedded
in current community characteristics, consequently
having the potential to offer a richer understanding
of these factors as health determinants. For
example, the devastatingly deadly diseases in the
early years of colonization, the loss of traditional
lands, the policies of assimilation and residential
schooling, and the loss of self-government20 can be
interpreted as having had a potentially negative impact
on the stocks of social capital. However, this interpretation
should not be simplistic because the ongoing
struggles to counter these forces may also have
had the potential of generating stocks of social capital,
even if only in one or two dimensions.
The three-dimensional understanding of social
capital implies that policies may at times require the
sacrifice of one dimension over another. For example,
communities with high levels of resistance to external
relationships (linkage) may do so to generate
high levels of bonding and bridging social capital.
The community that resists Manitoba Hydro and
funding for flooding of traditional territory may be
creating stronger bonds of trust and collective action
within the community. On the other hand, a higher
degree of internal collective action may provide the
leverage necessary for higher levels of linkage social
capital. That was the case of a northern Manitoba
community that marched in protest to Winnipeg and
camped at a public place in the city for weeks, until
the funding for housing was obtained.
Approaches to developing policy also have an impact
on social capital. The implementation of programs
or initiatives without consultation may negatively
impact trust, participation, and collective
action. Many times, under the rationale of efficiency
or cost-effectiveness, programs are put in place while
community consultation is curtailed. An accurate costing
would have to take into account the potential for a
reduction of social capital and ultimately a reduced
return on the investment.
Most of these illustrations do not directly address
health policy, although these policies ultimately may
impact health. The principle is that policy should consider
social capital as an intervening variable in
health. Policy, and ways of developing and implementing
policy that are in the hands of several parties,
can have a profound impact on First Nations communities
and, consequently, on the health and well-being
of their populations.
This paper presents ideas that emerged from a
study that examined the concept of social capital in
First Nations communities and explores the possibility
of it being a community-level determinant of
health. These are the initial stages in a broader research
agenda. Further steps are required to assess if
social capital is an adequate descriptor of the social
environment of First Nations communities and plays a
Mignone and O’Neil
32 Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005
role as a health determinant. First, a new round of
measurement refinement and validation is necessary.
Second, based on findings from the current study and
from findings of future studies using the revised tools,
further adjustments to the conceptual framework need
to be made. Third, formulation of more refined theoretical
models of social capital as a determinant of
population health are needed. Fourth, studies to test
the theories of social capital as determinant of health
in First Nations communities need to be conducted.
Fifth, further work is needed to empirically establish
the pathways between social capital and health. This
research agenda requires an effective partnership between
First Nations communities, First Nations organizations,
and academic centres in a research process
that combines conceptual analyses, grounded theory
development, and quantitative evidence on an ongoing
The authors acknowledge the three First Nations
communities that participated in the study, Janet
Longclaws, Dr. Cam Mustard, Dr. Sid Frankel, and
the Health Information and Research Committee of
the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. The Canadian Population
Health Initiative and the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council provided the funding
for the study.
1. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Gathering
Strength, Vol. 3 (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services
Canada, 1996).
2. The Health Information and Research (HIR) Committee is
mandated by the Chiefs of Manitoba to represent the health
research and information interests of all 62 First Nations
communities in Manitoba. The members of the HIR Committee
are all health directors (or designates) representing all
tribal councils, independent First Nations, and other First Nations’
political organizations in Manitoba.
3. John D. O’Neil et al., Why are Some First Nations Communities
Healthy and Others are Not?: Constituting Evidence in
First Nations Health Policy (Winnipeg: Northern Health
Medical Unit and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, 1999).
4. Javier Mignone, Social Capital in First Nations Communities:
Conceptual Development and Instrument Validation, doctoral
dissertation (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 2003). A
complete report of the study can be obtained from the website
of the Centre of Aboriginal Health Research at the University
of Manitoba at http://www.umanitoba.ca/centres/cahr/.
5. Given the developmental nature of the study, it was decided
to keep the communities anonymous.
6. Mignone, Social Capital, 2003.
7. These include: James S. Coleman, Foundations of Social
Theory (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University
Press, 1990); Pierre Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital,”
Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education,
J. Richardson (Ed.) (New York: Greenwood Press,
1983) p. 241-258; Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The
Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York:
Touchstone, 2000); and M. Woolcock and D. Narayan, “Social
Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research,
and Policy,” The World Bank Research Observer, Vol. 15
(2000) p. 225-249.
8. Woolcock and Narayan, “Social Capital,” 2000.
9. The use of the term “culture” in this study has generated considerable
discussion among the First Nations partners. They
have expressed concern that the term has a particular meaning
in the context of First Nations traditions and world views.
In the social sciences, there is a long history of using the culture
concept to refer to shared values, norms, and beliefs. It is
this more general understanding that has informed this analysis
of social capital. Culture, as a component of social capital,
refers to values and norms of trust, reciprocity, and collective
action. Values related to aspects of First Nations culture such
as spirituality are not included in this definition. Similarly, in
this paper, the term does not refer to the idea that there are
many First Nations cultures that have unique traditions and
10. K. Dean, “Social Support and Health: Pathways of Influence,”
Health Promotion, Vol. 1 (1986) p. 133-149.
11. Woolcock and Narayan, “Social Capital,” 2000.
12. M. Woolcock, “The Place of Social Capital in Understanding
Social and Economic Outcomes,” Isuma, Vol. 2 (2001) p. 11-
13. J.P. Henry, “The Relation of Social to Biological Processes in
Disease,” Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 16 (1982) p.
14. B.S. McEwen, “Protective and Damaging Effects of Stress
Mediators,” The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 338
(1998) p 171-179.
15. J.S., House, K.R. Landis, and D. Umberson, “Social Relationships
and Health,” The Society and Population Health
Reader: Income Inequality and Health, I. Kawachi, B.P.
Kennedy, and R.G. Wilkinson (Eds.) (New York: The New
Press 1999) p. 161-170.
16. D. Briggs and P. Elliott, “The Use of Geographical Information
Systems in Studies on Environment and Health,” World
Health Statistics Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 85. (1995).
17. S.E. Taylor, R.L. Repetti, and T. Seeman, “Health Psychology:
What is an Unhealthy Environment and How Does it
Get Under the Skin?” Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 48
(1997) p. 411-447.
18. L. Anderson et al., “The Community Guide’s Model for
Linking the Social Environment to Health,” American Journal
of Preventative Medicine, Vol. 24, No.3S, (2003) p 12-
19. T.K. Tan, Silence, Sacrifice, and Shoo-Fly Pies: An Inquiry
into the Social Capital and Organizational Strategies of the
Amish Community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Cambridge:
Harvard University, 1998).
20. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Gathering
Strength, Vol. 5. (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services
Canada 1996); O.P. Dickason, Canada’s First Nations: A
History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times, second
edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); and R.M.
Gralewicz, Federal Policies and Their Effects on Indian
Health: A Southern Alberta Plains Case Study (Pullman,
Washington: Washington State University, 1997).
Social Capital as a Health Determinant in First Nations
Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005 33
Disease, Medicine, and Canadian
Plains Native People, 1880-1940
By Maureen K. Lux
University of Toronto Press, 2001
ISBN 0-80204-728-9
288 pages
In this seminal work, author Maureen Lux takes issue
with the biological invasion theory of the impact
of disease on plains Aboriginal Peoples. She challenges
the view that Aboriginal medicine was helpless
to deal with the diseases brought by European newcomers
and that Aboriginal Peoples therefore surrendered
their spirituality to Christianity. Lux argues that
biological invasion was accompanied by military, cultural,
and economic invasions–which, combined with
both the loss of the bison herds and forced settlements
on reserves–led to population decline. The diseases
killing the plains Native Peoples were not contagious
epidemics, but the grinding diseases of poverty, malnutrition,
and overcrowding.
Medicine That Walks provides a grim social history
of medicine from the end of the 19th to the middle of
the 20th century. It traces the relationship between the
ill and the well, from the 1880s when Aboriginal Peoples
were perceived as a vanishing race doomed to extinction
to the 1940s when they came to be seen as a
disease menace to the Canadian public. The Aboriginal
Peoples lived and coped with a cruel set of circumstances.
However, they survived, in large part because
they consistently demanded a role in their own
health and recovery.
Painstakingly researched and convincingly argued,
this work will change society’s understanding of a
significant era in western Canadian history.
Lux is a post-doctoral fellow at the Hannah Institute
for the History of Medicine.
34 Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005
Book abstracts are printed with permission from
the publishing company that produced each
book. Abstracts provide further information on
some of the resources referenced in the preceding
research paper or are generally related to the
theme of this issue.
Journal of Aboriginal Health • March 2005

Sumber: http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/human_ecology/media/Social_Capital_Journal_of_Aboriginal_Health.pdf

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