“Snapshots of the British Empire: Governing Everywhere and All at Once”
Alan Lester, Historical Geography, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Interdisciplinary Research, Sussex University, and member of La Trobe University of Melbourne’s new Centre for the Study of the Inland, Australia
Emerging initially from Australia, a growing body of work known as ‘settler colonial studies’ has identified settler colonialism as an ontologically distinct form of colonialism driven by a structural logic entailing the ‘elimination of the native’. This form has been characterised above all by the settler colonies of the British Empire in the nineteenth century, but it is seen as one with an older history and a continuing presence. This presentation engages with ‘settler colonial studies’ in three ways, using nineteenth-century British colonial examples. First, it highlights the ways in which not only Indigenous resistance, but also Indigenous autonomy, appropriation and adaptation tend to be written out of the analysis. Secondly, it questions its structuralist epistemology, and thirdly, it raises the neglected issue of the more-than-human dimensions of settler-Indigenous encounters, upon which other presentations will focus.
“The Impact of Settler Colonialism on Lake Nipissing”
Nipissing First Nation Chief, Scott McLeod
Chief McLeod will discuss the relationship that the N’Biising Anishinabek have experienced with Lake Nipissing since time out of memory and the disruptive impact and outcomes that settler governments and settler colonialism have brought to the Nipissing First Nation over the past two centuries. Chief McLeod will explore the nature of the Nipissing Anishinabek’s world view as it relates to the lake and the beings that inhabit the waters. He will also discuss how settler colonialism has influenced that relationship and shaped the current management and use of the lake as a “common” resource. Chief McLeod will also reflect on what “reconciliation” means in terms of future sharing of resources between the Nipissing Anishinabek and settlers in the Nipissing traditional territory.
“Imposing Territory: First Nation Land Claims and the Transformation of Human- Animal Relationships”
Paul Nadasdy, Anthropology, Cornell University
The Canadian government has concluded a series of land claim and self-government agreements with many Indigenous peoples in the Yukon Territory. These modern treaties create First Nations as a “third order of government” in the Yukon and grant them significant powers to govern their own people and lands. Framed as they are in the idiom of sovereignty, however, the agreements also compel First Nation people to accept – in practice if not in theory – a host of Euro-American assumptions about the nature of power and governance that are implicit in such a framing. In this talk, I focus on one of the central premises of the sovereignty concept: territorial jurisdiction. The Yukon agreements carve the Yukon into fourteen distinct First Nation “traditional territories.” Although many assume that these territories reflect “traditional” patterns of land-use and occupancy, indigenous society in the Yukon was not in fact composed of distinct political entities each with jurisdiction over its own territory. Thus, the agreements do not simply formalize jurisdictional boundaries among pre-existing First Nation polities, as many assume; rather, they are mechanisms for creating the legal and administrative systems that bring those polities into being. Indeed, the powers conferred upon First Nations by the Yukon agreements come in the peculiarly territorial currency of the modern state, and the processes of territorialization they engender are transforming Yukon First Nation society in radical and often unintended ways. Among the most significant of these are changes in how First Nation people can relate to the land and animals – and to one another with respect to land and animals.
“Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Storytelling about the Earth”
Deborah McGregor, CRC in Indigenous Environmental Justice
Critical environmental sciences recognize that global issues, such as climate change, must draw on more than knowledge obtained through the study of physical geography and environmental science. The centuries-long history of colonialism in Canada and around the world must also be addressed to tackle the greatest challenges facing humanity and our planet. This merging of intellectual and knowledge traditions have been well known to Indigenous peoples for some time. Indigenous educator, Gregory Cajete, argues that science is really just another way of telling a story about the Earth. Indigenous people, through Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), had their own stories telling about the Earth. Cajete advocates that we must appreciate that we are all part of the great story about the Earth-creation and life. Our distinct and diverse knowledge systems together contribute to this understanding. We are all part of a process that is highly creative and we all have something to contribute. My contribution will focus upon the strengths of how critical environmental science can connect with TEK, adding to the burgeoning dialogue on how we as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can draw on our respective strengths to generate innovative understandings of the grand story of the Earth.
“Nookomis Giizhik, Nimisenh, Miina’ig, Ingijibinaa: Working with Plants and Trees to Open Lines of Communication”
Wendy Makoons Geniusz, Ojibwe Language, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
These four beings can open lines of communication between groups of humans, human and non-human spaces, and mortal and immortal worlds. They are known by different names in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, but some humans call them: Nookomis Giizhik (Thuja occidentalis), Nimisenh (Abies balsamea), Miina’ig (Picea glauca), and Ingijibinaa (Prunella vulgaris). Their talents are recognized and honoured by some people, while ignored and disrespected by others, but they continue to live amongst us. By focusing on them and conversing about and with them, we can begin a conversation about our philosophical differences, our similar goals, and how we can work together for reconciliation and future unity.