Settler colonialism as entanglement: Ian Sorjo Grant Puppe, Conduits of Communion: Monstrous Affections in Algonquin Traditional Territory, PhD Dissertation, University of Western Ontario, 2015


Abstract: This project investigates the legacies of shifting land tenure and stewardship practices on what is now known as the Ottawa Valley watershed (referred to as the Kitchissippi by the Omamawinini or Algonquin people), and the effects that this central colonization project has had on issues of identity and Nationalism on Canadians, diversely identified as settler-colonists of European or at least “Old World” descent and First Nations, Métis and Inuit (Lawrence 2012). Beginning with the partition of their territory into the jurisdictions of Upper and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Quebec), and continuing through the institution and increased surveillance of Algonquin Provincial Park, the Canadian Nation-State has remained an obstacle barring unification efforts made by various First Nations, local and descendant groups in the area (Lawrence 2012). Now often pit against one another during land claims disputes and over access to resources, these First Nations, local and descendant communities are simultaneously involved in factional resistance to one another’s overt dominance, and in unifying “Nationalist” projects enacted implicitly on local scales and through explicitly “traditional” representations.

Focusing on historical and contemporary political and social issues related to Algonquin Provincial Park and its establishment, this project explores; 1) Competing claims levied by First Nations People, local and descendant communities as well as representatives of the Canadian settler-colonist Nation-State regarding proper relationships to the environment and its stewardship; 2) Popular discursive and practical approaches to conservation, tourism, naturalism, and heritage management; and 3) The complicated entanglements of First Nations, settler-colonist, local and descendant communities and shifting identifications made evident by changes in economic relationships to the territory in and around the Park and in some people’ legal status vis-a-vis the Nation-State.

This dissertation draws on public history and traditional narrative as sources for a reconsideration of history, ethnohistory, and ethnography in relation to studies of the complex contemporary Canadian Nation-State. Contributing to a specifically Canadian
anthropology, I develop vocabulary through which to engage the perpetuation of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge regarding the environment, health and relationality, and to counteract Intergenerational Trauma related to dispossession and the breakdown of identity, personal and collective, under settler-colonial pressures.

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