Indigenous Worlds in Life and Death: Indigenous Worlds beyond Borders as Seen from Victoria, BC in the 19th Century

March 14, 2019

This lecture explores how two different ways of studying the past (standard social history and interdisciplinary Indigenous study) lead to different understandings of past worlds. It proceeds from the story of the death of Mary Opio, a fifteen-year-old Native Hawaiian girl from Victoria, and her stepmother, Mary Kaaiopiopio, both of whom lived and died in a mostly Indigenous mixed-race slum in Victoria, British Columbia in the 1860s. The standard tools of social history shed useful light on the early roots of colonial processes of hyper-policing and mass incarceration of indigenous people. They rightly suggest the tight boundaries colonial states placed on their lives. Yet a study that proceeds from indigenous language sources and indigenous ideas of kinship and connection can reveal indigenous lives that transcend the boundaries that colonial powers archives impose upon them, in the past and also in the present. Ironically, thinking about mourning brings the expansive possibilities of indigenous lives into focus.


Dr. David Chang is a historian of Indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawaii and North America. He has authored two books: The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (2016 ) and The Color of the LandRace, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1840-1929. Chang is Distinguished McKnight Professor of History and Chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


SFU Vancouver
515 West Hastings
Harbour Centre 1600 Canfor Policy Room

Please register here.


  • SFU David See-chai Lam Centre
  • Department of Sociology & Anthropology