University of Saskatchewan

July 29, 2014   

Redefining the Field

James R. Miller, B.A. (Hons), M.A., Ph.D., F.R.S.C.

Highlights

"First published in 1989 and enjoying sales in excess of 17,000, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens has had great influence at both academic and popular levels. My citation as a new Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in November 1998 referred to the importance of its contribution."

Background

1972, Ph.D. (History), University of Toronto
1967, M.A. (History), University of Toronto
1966, B.A. (Hons.) (Modern History), University of Toronto
1998, Fellow, Royal Society of Canada

Books

Bounty and Benevolence: A History of Saskatchewan Treaties (with Arthur J. Ray and Frank Tough)
Big Bear (Mustahimusqua)
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A History of Indian-White Relations in Canada
Shingwauk's Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools
Sweet Promises: A Reader on Indian-White Relations in Canada

Mentored

4 graduate students
1 post-doctoral fellow
Currently mentoring six

Committees/Boards

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
The Canadian Historical Association/La Société historique du Canada
Board of Directors & General Assembly, Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada

Honours

  • Canada Research Chair in Native-Newcomer Relations, Tier 1
  • Life Member, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
  • Founders' Prize, Canadian History of Education Association
  • Certificate of Merit, Canadian Association of Foundations of Education
  • Gustavus Myers Award (1997 & 1993)
  • Honourable Mention, Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, Canadian Historical Association
  • Distinguished Researcher Award, University of Saskatchewan
  • J.W. Dafoe Prize
  • Co-winner, Non-Fiction Book of the Year, Saskatchewan Writing Awards

Contact Information

Jim Miller
Phone: (306)966-5806
Email: j.r.miller@usask.ca
Website: http://artsandscience.usask.ca/history/crc/index.html

Dr. James Miller

Canada Research Chair in Native-Newcomer Relations

When it was first published in 1989, Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens
was acclaimed as the first comprehensive account of Indian-white relations in Canada. Now in its third edition, the book by University of Saskatchewan history professor James Miller addresses a question that continues to haunt us, “how did relations get to this point?”

“I started research in the field of Native-newcomer relations because I was perplexed by what I saw around me,” Dr. Miller says. “Like most Canadians who think about the matter today, I wondered why things were so messed up, why were relations so bad between us, why do Aboriginal communities very often have such serious socio-economic and health problems? How did it get like this?”

That was when Dr. Miller moved away from the study of French-English relations, which had been his field since university, and into the complex world of Native-newcomer history. In the 18 years since, he has redefined the field. His appointment as Canada Research Chair is
the latest proof of his international reputation as one of the area’s leading scholars.

“I probably would not have chosen this field if I hadn’t lived in Saskatchewan since 1972, and if I hadn’t spent a year in Japan in 1982-83.”

Oddly, it is the year in Japan that is key.

“I was trying to figure out the culture, so I read some books on Japanese sociology. More and more, I noticed the importance of schooling and socialization in shaping the younger generation. It made me wonder. I’d seen lots of references in Canadian historical literature about residential schools, but nothing in any depth. That’s where I started, with the history of residential schooling.”

It took Dr. Miller more than 10 years to research and write the book, but when it was published in 1996, Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools met with critical success. It continues to be cited by the media in articles on residential school issues, and has established Dr. Miller as a respected consultant on residential school issues.

While Shingwauk’s Vision was a work-in-progress, Dr. Miller researched and wrote Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens and the companion volume, Sweet Promises: A Reader on Indian-White Relations in Canada. Both have been adopted as required books for History and Native Studies courses at several Canadian universities.

“My research on residential schooling and, most significantly, on the Saskatchewan treaties made it clear to me how much ignorance and misunderstanding exists, at both the scholarly and general levels, on the critically important topic of treaty-making in Canada,” Dr. Miller says. “The Canada Research Chair gives me an opportunity to continue to explore that theme by researching and writing a comprehensive history of treaties between Indians and the Crown in Canada.”


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