The nature of indigenous band societies is examined through an analysis of the historical dynamics of sociopolitical organization among the Secwepemc of the northern Plateau. Secwepemc history is characterized by recurrent tensions between the autonomy of extended family groups and the solidarity of the band collective. Unlike earlier static, and trait-based models of Plateau culture,this processual and historically grounded model of sociopolitical organization can account for cultural diversity among Plateau groups, can recognize patterned processes of cultural continuity and change through history, and may be applicable to other North American indigenous band societies. By implication, viable and sustainable forms of Aboriginal self-government in Canada must incorporate innovative structures allowing expression of these enduring commitments to different levels of social belonging.

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