The central problem addressed in the thesis is the nature
of the relationship between the contemporary Carrier feast and the
realities of the social-economic context of Carrier life outside the
feast hall. In Part I an ethnohistorical analysis of Carrier society
is first presented, indicating a pattern of changing social structure
relating to shifting ecological and economic conditions. Through an
analysis of certain protocols of the Carrier feast, it is then argued
that the "surface" structures manifest at the feast are related to
Carrier social history through principles operating at unconscious
levels of structure. This analysis is intended to elucidate the
"meaning" of the feast from within the feast hall.
Part II contains an examination of the changing nature of
Bulkley River Carrier (Hwitsowitenne) social-economic conditions pri¬
marily since 1950, focussing on hereditary authority, property relations
and supporting indigenous laws. It is argued that a dependency relation¬
ship has developed between government and industry, on the one hand,
and Hwitsowitenne society, on the other. This is seen to effect change
in the Hwitsowitenne structure of authority and system of property
relations which, in turn, places stress on the feast as it is described
in Part I.
Conclusions arising from both parts of the essay discuss the
relationship between ritual and social structure and the significance
of the contemporary Hwitsowitenne feast.