MA student Angie Tucker attended the annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in Los Angeles from May 14-19, 2018. Her paper, "Culture on the kemoo’ch: Métis Loss of Connection to Land and Identity in the 20th Century" was featured in a panel on "Sites of Strength: The Road Allowance, Co-Operative, City, and Settlement as Métis Self-Determination." Congratulations on such a successful conference, Angie!!!
Here's the abstract from Angie's talk:
In Canada, colonial perspectives have been privileged over Indigenous knowledge and has affected the connections that many contemporary Indigenous individuals have to their pasts. Yet today, the Canadian government continues to restrict the ways in which society is able to think about and engage with Indigenous people. These parameters are evident in policy discourse. The discourse that has been maintained about Indigenous identity and of inclusion has created a landscape that is difficult for all Indigenous people to navigate. Furthermore, the discourses surrounding land and land-use restricts the Indigenous knowledge of land. As Elmer Ghostkeeper of Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement reminded me, land is a “living, breathing entity and we must treat it as such if we do not, we will be disconnected from fundamental traditional teachings.”
Such is the case with Métis people. Métis are a unique group with specific definitions of selfhood who were historically restricted from their physical landscapes and diverse kinship systems. Despite this, their identification continues to be couched in policy and social understanding of ‘mixed-blooded’ backgrounds rather than by the ways in which Métis people are capable of defining themselves.
Awana niyanaan? Who are we?
The complex attachments that my father’s family has had to their own Métis ancestry provided me the landscape to approach the community of Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement. I wanted to know if a collective land-based community could be a catalyst for understanding or decolonizing Métis identity, including my own. I hoped to understand how my family’s attachments to place and identity began to fracture, resulting in the silencing of our Métis history. As the antidote to silence, I listened to Elders. These encounters at Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement provided the basis of my research. This, in turn, created a methodology that promotes listening, and the movement and mobility across landscapes, in both physical and temporal ways.
Family and connection to allof your relations provides a strong basis for Métis understanding, an epistemology that extends beyond the realms of non-Indigenous world-views. This is a teaching that I today understand as wahkotowin, the fundamental spiritual concept that ties together land with identity, and selfhood within the context of a broader community. I argue that the connections to land and Métis identification have been continually manipulated by the State, and found evident in the ways that Métis people not only engage with the land, but also with one another.