The White of the Wampum: Possibilities for Indigenous-Non Indigenous Relationships in Canadian Settler Narratives (circa 2012) and Indigenous Storywork

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  • The Two Row Wampum is held up to inspire relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada rooted in respect and responsibility. However, Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations have been characterized by the deracination of Indigenous relational self-determination. In this dissertation, I juxtapose settler colonial representations (circa 2012) with Indigenous stories of Indigenous-non-Indigenous relationships. I offer Foucauldian discourse analyses of selected settler colonial representations to show how they displace and erase Indigenous relational self-determination. I also look beyond the constraints of settler discourse to offer readings of Indigenous stories guided by storywork. Storywork is an Indigenous method of reading stories as pathways towards respectful relationships between all beings of creation. These pathways are grounded in what Vanessa Watts calls place-thought, Indigenous understandings of the relational knowledge embedded in the living network of relations that make up Indigenous traditional territories. I focus on 2012 because of the intensity of settler discourse and Indigenous resistance during this year. During 2012, the Canadian government and the CBC produced commemorations of the War of 1812, the CBC's 8th Fire documentary and website were featured on, and national media produced representations of Indigenous activism, which emerged in 2012 under the banner of Idle No More. I show how these selected settler colonial representations legitimize liberal democratic forms of governance and advance the demands of the neoliberal capitalist resource economy. The problem is that these political and economic discourses often undermine and efface Indigenous relational self-determination. I juxtapose settler representations of the War of 1812 with Odawa Scholar Cecil King's historical account, Balancing Two Worlds (2013); national media representations of Indigenous activism with Lee Maracle's novel, Sundogs (1992); and 8th Fire's representation of reconciliation with The Eeyouch of Eeyou Itschee (2010-2015), a documentary series produced by the Cree peoples of Quebec about their relations with settler governments. I aim to unsettle settler colonial productions of state sovereignty, liberal democratic institutions, and global market capitalism and to gesture towards possibilities of Indigenous-non-Indigenous relationships rooted in traditional understandings of the white of the wampum: Indigenous-non-Indigenous relationships based in respect and responsibility between self-determining peoples.

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  • Copyright © 2020 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
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  • 2020


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