Photo: When I was working as a biologist with Scott Nielsen at the University of Alberta, I worked in the Livingstone Range in Treaty 7 Territory/Southwestern Alberta. This photo was taken in the traditional homeland of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii (ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ) (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis (https://www.ktunaxa.org/) and the Tsuu T'ina (https://tsuutinanation.com/) (according to native-land.ca). I post this photo here under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International creative commons license.
On this page, I post resources for helping students, scholars, activists, readers, lifelong learners, and teachers understand social structures and meanings around land/nature.
Indigenous Scholars on the Structural Analysis of Land
Post by Tyler J. Bateman 28 October 2021 Could be cited as (I'm including this reference here as a teaching tool, not to make an ownership claim on any of this knowledge!): Bateman, Tyler J. 2021. "Indigenous Scholars on the Structural Analysis of Land". Accessed [date] https://www.tylerjamesbateman.com/natureland-resources.html.
In a class with Dr. Robin Gray at the Department of Sociology of the University of Toronto, we were tasked with creating a list that could be used to update a comprehensive exam in our study areas. I focused on the environmental sociology comprehensive exam, proposing a list that could be added as a section to that exam. I have edited the assignment so that it flows more naturally as a resource here.
I primarily used Google Scholar to build this bibliography, using keyword combinations like, "Indigenous peoples" AND ("environment" OR "nature" OR "land"). Another element of the criteria was that the article, chapter, or book should be highly cited, which is, of course, related to the year it was published. I also leaned one of my brothers, Dylan Bateman. He is studying for a PhD in English at UBC, and his supervisor is Daniel Heath Justice.
Structural Analysis of Land
“Environmental sociology” has typically been dominated by white men. White men in the 1970s started the trend of talking about “environmental sociology”, but if you look at what environmental sociology studies, it is not exclusive to those white men and the people who followed in the discipline after them.
I think what sociologists, Indigenous scholars, and other social scientists and humanities scholars do is structural analysis. But I also want to take Tuck et al.’s (2014) recommendation into account and not talk of the “environment” but instead talk about “land”. Talking about "the structural analysis of land" rather than "environmental sociology", helps the study of land/nature/the environment more naturally entail taking different structural standpoints to understand structure and land, including sociology, Indigenous studies, anthropology, geography, and others.
Understanding Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous practices is critical for someone living on Indigenous land (e.g., someone doing a PhD in Toronto). Anyone studying and writing about land who is living in a colonized place and a site of "survivance" (e.g., Tuck 2009), should be trying to grapple with colonialism, decolonization, and reindigenization as the central focus of their studies. A relational perspective (e.g., Wilson 2008) that constantly asks someone—whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous—to understand their relations to other people, other groups, and other beings in nature like waters and animal species, trees and fungi, and all the other beings, should be the central perspective that they learn.
There is a perspective shift needed on the part of settlers or people trained only in Western ways of understanding land/nature (the perspective shift as represented by, e.g., Brayboy 2005; Nakata 2007; Wilson 2008). There are radical shifts needed to think alongside Indigenous peoples when thinking about the environment (e.g., Brayboy 2005; Nakata 2007; Wilson 2008).
Adese, Jennifer. 2014. “Spirit Gifting: Ecological Knowing in Métis Life Narratives.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3(3):48–66. (Has over 30 Google scholar Citations). * This is an important inclusion for two reasons. First, it provides a Métis point of view that is not as highlighted in other works in this list. Even when Todd (2015, 2016, below) describes her ideas, the individual character of the Métis point of view is not as thoroughly described as in this paper. Adese describes wahkootowin, for example, "a world view that "privilege[s] relatedness to land, people (living, ancestral, and those to come), the spirit world, and creatures inhabiting the space (MacDougall, 2011, p.3)" (Adese 2014:53). She also describes the Métis understanding of the 12 seasons and discusses the relationship between Métis people and the seasons (Adese 2014:54). Some of the basic facts of Métis history are also discussed, such as the reign of terror that the Canadian government advanced on the Métis of Red River in the late 1800s. The paper also provides important Métis bibliographic sources that the reader can follow up on—the paper helps to build the bibliography readers have of Métis sources. Like many of the authors in this list, she also talks about the importance of stories, and in Adese’s case, from the Métis point of view. She engages with the teachings and stories of Elmer Ghostspeaker, Victoria Belcourt Callihoo, and Herb Belcourt.
Barnhardt, Ray, and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley. 2005. “Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 36(1):8–23. doi: 10.1525/aeq.2005.36.1.008. (Has over 1,100 Google Scholar citations). * In 2021, Ray Barnhardt is professor emeritus in Cross-Cultural Studies and Indigenous Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he has been a professor since 1980 (https://www.uaf.edu/cxcs/contact-us.php). * Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley (November 8, 1934 – April 27, 2011) "was a Yup'ik anthropologist, teacher and actor from Alaska. He was an associate professor of education at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks until his death in 2011. The Anchorage Daily News described him as "one of (Alaska's) most influential teachers and thinkers"" (Wikipedia). * This is an important article in the history of the scholarly discussion about Indigenous knowledge systems (alternatively called Traditional Knowledge or Traditional Ecological Knowledge). The article includes two main parts. The first part is "a close examination of common features that Indigenous knowledge systems share around the world" (Barnhardt and Kawagley 2005:9). In that first part, the authors also contrast the Western scientific "worldview" (Barnhardt and Kawagley 2005:9) with Indigenous worldviews. They also stress that "Indigenous knowledge systems are themselves diverse" (Barnhardt and Kawagley 2005:10), but they still sketch some of the common approaches and contrast these with those of Western science (a Venn diagram summarizes the comparison, including the central part of the diagram for areas of overlap between Indigenous and Western science worldviews). The second part of the article is an examination of "initiatives contributing to the resurgence of Alaska Native Knowledge systems and ways of knowing" (Barnhardt and Kawagley 2005:9), the purpose of which is to build momentum for the renewal of Indigenous-led education systems in Alaska. These initiatives were in part grounded in a 10 year educational development project called the Alaskan Rural Systemic Initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation among others. Part of that initiative is to create a resurgence in place-based education, since Indigenous ways of knowing are engrained in places.
Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones. 2005. “Toward a Tribal Critical Race Theory in Education.” The Urban Review 37(5):425–46. doi: 10.1007/s11256-005-0018-y. (Has over 1,300 Google Scholar Citations). * This paper helps bring the reader into an understanding of what it means to learn about Indigenous knowledge. A perspective shift is needed, rather than simply adding new facts. This paper shows one such perspective, Tribal Critical Race Theory, to help the student think their way into understanding the other work on Indigenous studies in the list. Tribal Critical Race Theory has 9 tenets (p.429–430): "... 1. Colonization is endemic to society. 2. U.S. policies toward Indigenous peoples are rooted in imperialism, White supremacy, and a desire for material gain. 3. Indigenous peoples occupy a liminal space that accounts for both the political and racialized natures of our identities. 4. Indigenous peoples have a desire to obtain and forge tribal sovereignty, tribal autonomy, self-determination, and self-identification. 5. The concepts of culture, knowledge, and power take on new meaning when examined through an Indigenous lens. 6. Governmental policies and educational policies toward Indigenous peoples are intimately linked around the problematic goal of assimilation. 7. Tribal philosophies, beliefs, customs, traditions, and visions for the future are central to understanding the lived realities of Indigenous peoples, but they also illustrate the differences and adaptability among individuals and groups. 8. Stories are not separate from theory; they make up theory and are, therefore, real and legitimate sources of data and ways of being. 9. Theory and practice are connected in deep and explicit ways such that scholars must work towards social change."
McGregor, Deborah. 2004. “Coming Full Circle: Indigenous Knowledge, Environment, and Our Future.” The American Indian Quarterly 28(3):385–410. doi: 10.1353/aiq.2004.0101. (Has over 430 Google Scholar Citations). * Deborah McGregor "is Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ontario" (as described on her faculty page, https://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/faculty-and-staff/mcgregor-deborah/). In 2021, she works as a professor at the York University Osgoode Hall law faculty, a position she has held since 2015. * This paper helps to answer the question of: which non-Indigenous public figures and organizations have legitimized Traditional Ecological Knowledge? David Suzuki, the World Commission on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development are three of these entities that have been part of legitimizing Indigenous knowledge. McGregor goes on to talk about Indigenous knowledge from the standpoint of Indigenous peoples, starting with understanding Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in Indigenous stories. She goes on to talk about what TEK is, and also outlines challenges and ways to develop the field of TEK. Then she discusses the colonization of TEK. In this section (starting on p.400), she shows how non-Indigenous scholars have held up Indigenous knowledge and TEK as laudable and have attempted to appropriation and decontextualize TEK, and she critiques the process by which they do that. This paper is good for talking about the process whereby non-Indigenous scholars and other non-Indigenous people come to see TEK as legitimate. Then she talks about decolonizing TEK and the idea of Minobimaatisiiwin. McGregor (2004:403) says, "Our worldview is about Creation, about being co-creators, transforming ourselves and re-creating ourselves as we need to meet our challenges. Winona LaDuke refers to this creative process as “Minobimaatisiiwin,” which refers to rebirth and our goal to strive for a good life." As she concludes, with Minobimaatisiiwin and relationality, she charts the way forward for understanding and developing TEK.
McGregor, Deborah. 2009. “Honouring Our Relations: An Anishnaabe Perspective on Environmental Justice.” Pp. 27–41 in Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada, edited by J. Agyeman, P. Cole, R. Haluza-DeLay, and P. O’Riley. Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON: University of British Columbia Press. (Has over 110 Google Scholar Citations). * This paper challenges the field of environmental justice to take a stance that is more in line with Indigenous understandings of Creation. Part of this critique is to say that non-humans also have roles in creating environmental justice—it is not only humans to have a role in creating justice. McGregor talks about how in the original instructions all beings have important roles to play, and that this idea completely escapes the mainstream discussions of environmental justice. She also points out that non-humans are also left out of the discussion of the beneficiaries of environmental justice. Just as non-humans have roles to play in creating justice, they should also be thought of reciprocally as calling out responsibilities in humans toward them. Thus she critiques the anthropocentrism of environmental justice in two ways from an Indigenous standpoint. For example, McGregor (2009:30) says, “From an Anishnaabe perspective, the spirit world and all beings of Creation, including people, have relationships and responsibilities.” She underlines how these responsibilities and relationships are taught through creation stories. The story of Sky Woman, for example, shows that, “all of Creation is important, all must be respected … If we lose or disrespect even the tiniest and seemingly most insigniﬁcant being [e.g., the muskrat in the Sky Woman story], our own survival becomes threatened”. The origin stories show relationships and demonstrate that the intricate web of relations is what supports people, rather than support thought of as coming just from human society and human laws.
Nakata, Martin. 2007. “The Cultural Interface.” The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 36(S1):7–14. doi: 10.1017/S1326011100004646. (Has over 670 Google Scholar Citations). * The cultural interface provides a way of thinking about what it means to be doing both sociology and trying to develop Indigenous forms of knowledge and understanding. The cultural interface is the “contested space” between the Indigenous and Western scientific knowledge systems (p.8–9). The concept stresses that “Much of what we bring to this [cultural interface] is tacit and unspoken knowledge, those assumptions by which we make sense and meaning in our everyday world” (p.9). This kind of tacit knowledge is important for the student (either Indigenous or non-Indigenous) to have at least had a theoretical exposure to before they bring this tacit knowledge to the articles in this section of the comp. The cultural interface can be thought of as a space of dialogue, but one where appropriation and misrepresentation has occurred (Nakata 2007) and thus it is a dishonoured space. That history should help any non-Indigenous readers to bring additional caution as they read the articles in this section. The article also talks about Indigenous Standpoint Theory as a way to think about the cultural interface. Nakata describes Indigenous standpoint theory as having 3 principles: 1) “Indigenous people are entangled in a much contested knowledge space at the cultural interface” (p.12); 2) “at the interface” there is a continuous “push-pull between Indigenous and not-Indigenous positions … That is, the familiar confusion with constantly being asked at any one moment to both agree and disagree with any proposition on the basis of a constrained choice between whitefella or blackfella perspective” (p.12); 3) “the constant "tensions" that this tug-of-war creates are physically real, and both informs as well as limits what can be said and what is to be left unsaid in the everyday” (p.12).
Reid, Andrea J., Lauren E. Eckert, John‐Francis Lane, Nathan Young, Scott G. Hinch, Chris T. Darimont, Steven J. Cooke, Natalie C. Ban, and Albert Marshall. 2021. “‘Two‐Eyed Seeing’: An Indigenous Framework to Transform Fisheries Research and Management.” Fish and Fisheries 22(2):243–61. doi: 10.1111/faf.12516. * Andrea Reid "belongs to the Nisga’a Nation on British Columbia’s North Coast and has significant experience with Indigenous fisheries communities, practices, perspectives and issues in the province, as well as around the world, including East Africa, Oceania and Southeast Asia" (https://carleton.ca/indigenousinitiatives/people/andrea-reid/). She is enrolled in a PhD program in biology at Carleton University. * This paper demonstrates multiple frameworks for going beyond the dichotomy of Indigenous knowledge and Western European science. The authors first discuss multiple concepts for going beyond the dichotomy, including Waka-Taurua or Double-Canoe (Reid et al. 2020:246–250), Etuaptmumk or Two-Eyed Seeing (Reid et al. 2020:246–250), Ganma or Two Ways (Reid et al. 2020:246–250), and Kaswentha or the Two-row Wampum belt (Reid et al. 2020:246–250). The focus of the article is on Etuaptmumk. The article mentions how Etuaptmumk has been used in education and other fields (Reid et al. 2020:245), but focuses on how it can be used in fisheries management. The authors state that, "Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall defines Two-Eyed Seeing as “learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of mainstream knowledges and ways of knowing, and to use both these eyes together, for the benefit of all”" (p.245). Using cast studies of the Slave River Delta in the Northwest Territories, the Saskatchewan River Delta, and Unama'ki or Cape Breton Island, the authors show how Etuaptmumk can be used. The article concludes by showing how Indigenous Knowledge has often been thought of in an assimilatory way, and shows that Etuaptmumk is a more effective and honest way to govern resources with both Indigenous knowledge’s and Western European scientific knowledge.
Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. 2014. “Land as Pedagogy: Nishnaabeg Intelligence and Rebellious Transformation.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3(3):1–25. (Has over 650 Google Scholar Citations). * Among generally describing the Nishaabeg relationship with land, Simpson helps to de-center Western ways of naming "nature". For Nishnaabeg, "Aki includes all aspects of creation: land forms, elements, plants, animals, spirits, sounds, thoughts, feelings, energies, and all of the emergent systems, ecologies and networks that connect these elements" (Simpson 2014:15). Along with an understanding of Aki, Simpson demonstrates how Indigenous stories can express the network of values and relationships that go into developing creative and mutually beneficial relationships with land. The paper illustrates why developing an in-person relationship with land is essential for Indigenous peoples. Simpson also talks about diversity and the problems with trying to fit everyone into the same mould. She shows that diversity is, in contrast, a longstanding teaching of many Indigenous peoples. She also talks about consent (in a broad understanding of the term), gives teachings about Nanabush, and discusses resurgence, and demonstrates the importance of these knowledges and ways of relating to land. For example, Nanabush “is widely regarded within Nishnaabeg thought as Spiritual Being and an important teacher” (p.16). In the discussion of Nanabush, Simpson about how Nanabush would be highly critical of someone who learns about Aki primarily by reading about it in books. This doesn’t mean that reading books is a problem, but that being out on land and learning directly, and being out in movements building resistance, is just as or more important. Nanabush teaches that a better balance needs to be created when educating about Aki between learning spent indoors and learning out on land and in community.
TallBear, Kim. 2017. “Beyond the Life/Not-Life Binary: A Feminist-Indigenous Reading of Cryopreservation, Interspecies Thinking, and the New Materialisms.” Pp. 179–202 in Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. * On her website, TallBear says, "I am an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. I am also descended from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. I was raised on the Flandreau Santee Sioux reservation in South Dakota and in St. Paul, Minnesota by my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother" (https://kimtallbear.com/). She has worked as a professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies since 2015 and was awarded a Canada Research Chair in 2016. * TallBear talks about cryopolitics—the political issues that go into preserving DNA and other tissues—while critiquing animal studies and new materialism work. She develops a concept of the "indigenous metaphysic" (e.g., p.191), and shows the way forward for people who are trying to think about the animacy of non-humans and non-organisms. The indigenous metaphysic includes the idea that non-humans have animacy, and also that non-organisms, like stones and places, also have animacy. In this animacy of non-organisms, the "indigenous metaphysic" is the same as new materialist views. But the indigenous metaphysic also includes spirit beings as part of the network of relations that people are intertwined with. The critique TallBear makes of new materialists is partly this neglect of spirit beings, but also that almost all new materialists completely ignore the presence of the indigenous metaphysic, promoting themselves as if they're creating a completely new way of thinking. She talks about the way forward, saying, "Seeing [Indigenous peoples] as fully alive is key to seeing the aliveness of the decimated lands, waters, and other nonhuman communities on these continents. Understanding genocide in its full meaning in the Americas, for example, requires an understanding of the entangled genocide of humans and nonhumans here." (TallBear 2017:198). The discussion of new materialism highlights that environmental social science cannot neglect the Indigenous metaphysic and Indigenous conceptual leadership on environmental issues. The chapter implies that an environment comp without Indigenous perpsectives is just like new materialism—erasing Indigenous peoples when they should be conceptual (and other types of) leaders.
Todd, Zoe. 2016. “An Indigenous Feminist’s Take On The Ontological Turn: ‘Ontology’ Is Just Another Word For Colonialism: An Indigenous Feminist’s Take on the Ontological Turn.” Journal of Historical Sociology 29(1):4–22. doi: 10.1111/johs.12124. * Zoe Todd is Métis/otipemisiw "from Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton), Alberta, Canada". She is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carlton University (https://carleton.ca/socanth/people/todd-zoe/) and is currently a visiting professor at Yale University. * This paper starts with the critique of Latour: at a lecture Todd attended, Latour talked about the "Ontological Turn" while erasing all Indigenous peoples, even when the content of the Ontological Turn looks a great deal like Indigenous ways of knowing—ways that have been studied by Europeans for centuries (in e.g., anthropology). Todd moves on to say that the problem with Latour is only a manifestation of a deeper problem, a structural white supremacy, colonialism, and racism built into European institutions like the contemporary academy. If any non-Indigenous environmental thinker wants to talk about the Ontological Turn ideas, or if they want to cite any European on the subject of relationships with land, Todd strongly argues that they should also "consider digging around for others who are discussing the same topic in other ways" (p.19). She urges non-Indigenous scholars to "familiarize yourself with the Indigenous thinkers (and more!) I reference here [she provides a list of 14 Indigenous thinkers who publish about the same topic as those non-Indigenous scholars who are part of the Ontological Turn] and broaden the spectrum of who you cite and who you reaffirm as 'knowledgeable'" (p.19). This also means not only talking about Indigenous ideas about the environment—it is important to always link Indigenous ideas to legal and political struggles for self-determination, sovereignty, and well-being (p.18). Scholars' positionality demonstrates who they have "duties and responsibilities to", i.e., "the many different nations/societies/peoples with whom [they] share territories". These duties range beyond citation and to political solidarity expressed in action.
Todd, Zoe. 2015. “Fish Pluralities: Human-Animal Relations and Sites of Engagement in Paulatuuq, Arctic Canada.” Études/Inuit/Studies 38(1–2):217–38. doi: 10.7202/1028861ar. * In this article, Todd talks about how for Inuvialuit in Paulatuuq (the people are called the Paulatuuqmiut), there are multiple ways that fish can be understood and known—there are "fish pluralities" (p.219). For example, "Not only do fish ensure human survival as a plentiful food source, they do so because human-fish relationships represent a whole host of social, cultural, and legal-governance principles that underpin line in Paulatuuq" (p.218). In case studies that show these fish pluralities—and that also engage with the concepts of sites of active engagement (Fienup-Riordan 200:57), Indigenous métissage (Doland 2012), and principled pragmatism (Kuptana 2014)—Todd shows that the community was able to reinscribe their kinship relations with Arctic char and other fish species. From the 1960s to the late 1990s, an Arctic char fishery was first promoted by the Canadian government as a good commercial opportunity for local people, but the fishery then started to collapse. Then in 1984, the Inuvialuit took over control of the fishery, and established rules, in consultation with the local community (the Paulatuuqmiut), that a quota of char could be caught per year to support the community, but no large-scale commercial fishery would be permitted. The other case study shows how Inuvialuit bureaucratic rules teach kinship relations with fish and with the Inuvialuit for non-Inuvialuit who want to engage in sport fishing on Inuvialuit land. Todd also states some foundational principles upon which a non-anthropocentric policy framework toward wildlife and broader land management could be developed for the Arctic region.
Tuck, Eve, Marcia McKenzie, and Kate McCoy. 2014. “Land Education: Indigenous, Post-Colonial, and Decolonizing Perspectives on Place and Environmental Education Research.” Environmental Education Research 20(1):1–23. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2013.877708. (Has over 350 Google Scholar Citations). * "Tuck is Unangax̂ and is an enrolled member of the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Alaska. She grew up outside of her community, living in Pennsylvania as a child, and New York City as a young adult. She earned a PhD in Urban Education from The Graduate Center, The City University of New York in 2008. " (https://evetuck.com) * This article brings a reflexive view to all the other readings on the comp list, since this comp is basically an exercise in environmental education (and after reading this article, I would say, "land education"). The authors provide a multifaceted definition of land: in addition to the material, also the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual aspects of land (p.9), and land is a relation or relative. The authors say that environmental education and place-based education should be replaced with "land education". The words matter: "land education" more readily brings up "explicit discussion of settler colonialism, decolonization, and Indigenous conceptualizations of land" (p.14), which are almost entirely absent from environmental and place-based education. In this way, this article has a parallel argument to Todd (2016) and TallBear (2017)—the settler/European-descendant powerful have started to teach ideas (like the sentience of nonhumans) with almost all such teachers completely ignoring Indigenous peoples. The authors emphasize the need to teach with Indigenous knowledge and history, but also say that Indigenous peoples must not be stereotyped as all having a deep understanding of land and sustainability (p.10–11). The article also defines settler colonialism in detail, which is important for readers because of environmental thinkers’ penchant for futurity thinking (p.6–8, p.17). The paper emphasizes that when land educators teach about the future, the future should be explicitly about Indigenous futurity, and not about settler futurity. The article emphasizes the need for land education that includes thorough discussions of decolonialization and Indigenous futurity.
Watts, Vanessa. 2013. “Indigenous Place-Thought & Agency amongst Humans and Non-Humans (First Woman and Sky Woman Go on a European World Tour!).” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2(1):20–34. (Has over 460 Google Scholar citations). * Vanessa Watts is Mohawk, Bear Clan, from Six Nations (http://miri.mcmaster.ca/team/dr-vanessa-watts/). Since the Mohawk are part of the Haudenosaunee confederacy, Watts is a member of the Haudenosaunee. She is also Anishinaabe (Watts 2013:22; http://miri.mcmaster.ca/team/dr-vanessa-watts/). In 2021, Watts is the director of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University (http://miri.mcmaster.ca/team/dr-vanessa-watts/). * This paper includes many dialogues, one of which is a dialogue between the meanings inscribed in the stories of Sky Woman and First Woman in contrast to the story of Adam and Eve. The Adam and Eve story is shown to inscribe meanings of detachment from nature and the license to dominate it, while the stories of Sky Woman and First Women position humans as late-comers to the society of non-humans, a society already full of responsibilities, roles, and agency. The paper also shows that the Christian division between land and human agency is mirrored in secular Western European philosophy. In addition to this contrast rooted in origin stories, the paper develops the idea of Place-Thought (partly in dialogue with the Sky Woman and First Woman stories). Place-Thought is the idea of "theoretical understanding of the world via physical embodiment" (Watts 2013:21); the idea that place and thought cannot be separated (Watts 2013:21); land is alive and thoughts by humans *and* on-humans give agency that builds social structure (Watts 2013:21); "Human thought and action are ... derived from a literal expression of particular places" and the historical events that happen in those places (Watts 2013:23); and "as Indigenous peoples, we are extensions of the very land we walk upon" (Watts 2013:23). In general the paper shows how to think about non-humans as having agency and society in themselves, challenging the ideas of nature as different from humans or only an "ecosystem" of instincts and physics.
Walia, Harsha, and Glen Sean Coulthard. 2015. “'Land Is a Relationship": In Conversation with Glen Coulthard on Indigenous Nationhood.” Rabble News https://rabble.ca/columnists/2015/01/land-relationship-conversation-glen-coulthard-on-indigenous-nationhood. * This short website article is a necessary addition to this section because of the arguments in Reid et al. (2020). Reid et al., cited above, talk about the Two-row Wampum Belt and Two-Eyed Seeing in very positive ways. It is important to also have this article on the list because Coulthard here offers a more critical view of using the Two-row Wampum Belt as a way to think about relationships today. He says that because of the breaks in the trust and the violence from European settlers, rather than allowing the European ship to keep travelling down the river, we need to "sink the ship". It is important to open the student up to the idea that Two-Eyed Seeing and the Two-row Wampum aren't actually good enough in many senses. They may be more pragmatic, in the sense that the settler-colonial government is more likely to adopt Two-Eyed Seeing than full Indigenous management of resources. But regardless, it is important to create this questioning in the student reading about the Two-row Wampum and Two-Eyed Seeing. (This article was recommended to me by Paul Pritchard, and he informed me about this critique of the two-row wampum. Before he brought this to my attention, I had been somewhat heedlessly thinking the Two-row wampum was appropriate for thinking about relations today, after learning about it in community from Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe teachers).
Wilson, Shawn. 2008. Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing. Pages: 12–21, 32–42, 73–79. * This book shows an Indigenous Research Paradigm including an Indigenous ontology, epistemology, axiology, and methodology. Thinking through these categories will prepare the student for understanding, in clearer ways, that articles written by Indigenous scholars about land issues. The selections provided orient the reader to the book (p.12–21), describe Western ways of thinking (p.32–42), and then outline an Indigenous Research Paradigm rooted in relationality (p.73–79). Discussing the title of the book, Wilson (2008:69) says, “When ceremonies take place, everyone who is participating needs to be ready to step beyond the everyday and to accept a raised state of consciousness. You could say that the specific rituals that make up the ceremony are designed to get the participants into a state of mind that will allow for the extraordinary to take place”. In terms of an Indigenous ontology, Wilson (2008:73) says, “reality is relationships or sets of relationships … Thus there is no one definite reality but rather different sets of relationships that make up an Indigenous ontology.” Wilson’s (ibid) description of Indigenous epistemology also centers relationships, with systems of meaning (e.g., in language) reflecting relationships far more often than substances or objects. Indigenous languages, for example, include far more verbs than English (ibid). In terms of axiology or ethics, Wilson (2008:77) says, “[a]n Indigenous axiology is built upon the concept of relational accountability,” and an Indigenous methodology abides by relational accountability. Certain relationships have, inscribed within them, roles and obligations, which Wilson describes further in that section. The book’s description of these categories will help readers to think into the other readings by Indigenous authors.