The story of the Elder Brother illustrates how members of the Cowessess band were socialized to accept kinship roles and responsibilities during the preserve periods. This notion has been explored broadly by Robert Innes. The author further reveals that the Cowessess people demonstrated a strong multicultural ethos when they allowed other people into their land. The five major cultural groups that make up the Cowessess band include Metis, the Plains Cree, Saulteaux, English Half-breeds, and Assiniboine. People who had given up their Indian status out of their volition reapplied to become the members of the band.
Despite the allegiance to the law of the people, the Canadian government undermined these cultural laws as well as regulations that underpinned kinship practices. It is imperative to recognize that the traditional law of the people, centered on the Elder Brother Stories, continued to influence every aspect of the lives of Cowessess people. The ancient principles guide contemporary social interactions and kinship practices. Although the length of which Elder Brother Stories have been told to subsequent generations of the Cowessess people is not known, the values of the stories have been passed from one generation to another.
The contemporary views on kinship among the members of the Cowessess band have shifted over the years although slightly. Today, there is some degree of animosity towards new members due to continuous innovation of kinship practices this group of Aboriginal societies. In 1985, Bill C-31 was developed to amend the Indian Membership Code. The author’s findings of the interview with twenty-seven members of Cowessess band underscore changing attitudes towards the Indian membership code today. Nonetheless, the Elder Brother Stories continue to communicate the law of the people despite the impact of Bill C-31 on the band members. Perhaps, the only limitation in this article is the author’s failure to examine the extent by which elder brothers stories have been told in contemporary Cowessess tradition.
Author’s background information and relationship to research
Robert Alexander Innes is a member of the Cowessess First Nation who belongs to the Plains Cree cultural group. The study has revealed that Plains Cree is one of the five dominant cultural groups that make the Cowessess membership. Robert’s doctoral dissertation focused on kinship ties among the members of the Cowessess First Nation. In this regard, it is not surprising that the author has examined the contemporary kinship practices of the Cowessess band based on the Elder Brother Stories and the laws of the people. The relationship between the author’s background information and this study is crucial in establishing the credibility of the research. Innes’s cultural background gives him the impetus to examine and understand the social interactions and cultural dynamics among the members of this Aboriginal group.