Abstract: In the eleventh century CE, the Shona people of Central Africa built the city of Great Zimbabwe, an administrative center and royal home. Connected to the Indian Ocean gold trade, it would become the largest pre-colonial city in sub-Saharan Africa. However, it entered into decline and was ultimately abandoned by the sixteenth century – when the first Portuguese expeditions came in contact with the region. The fact that this city entered into decline just as Europeans encountered it set it up to become the center of a number of fantastical legends about its origins, typically linking it with the Biblical King Solomon and his gold mine of Ophir.

Most prior studies of the “foreign builder hypothesis” have focused on the fact that white supremacist ideologies of explorers and settlers tended to reject the idea that Africans could have built a city like Great Zimbabwe. This study instead focuses on how successive regimes in Central Africa approached the legend of Great Zimbabwe for their own political ends. In doing so, this study reveals how settler colonialism not only builds off of, but facilitates the construction of “mythic histories” to justify rights not only to the land, but its history. Further, this project illuminates how those approaches to mythic history formed in the nineteenth century persisted after the end of formal colonialism, and have helped feed not only mainstream white supremacist discourse in former imperial metropoles, but served as the origin of modern anti-intellectual and anti-government political movements in the United States.

Abstract: On August 25, 2003, the Tłįchǫ Peoples of the Northwest Territories signed a combined comprehensive land claim and self-government agreement with the Government of Canada. In addition to transferring ancestral lands back to the Tłįchǫ Peoples, the Agreement provides the Tłįchǫ Peoples with the right and freedom to define how their lands and its resources are managed. The establishment of such an Indigenous government presents an opportunity to create new institutions of governance that meaningfully include Indigenous values and that reflect traditional knowledge and practices of the Tłı̨chǫ Peoples. This thesis poses two questions. Has Tłįchǫ self-government resulted in the creation of unique Indigenous government institutions that incorporate Indigenous approaches, customs and habits (Indigenous perspectives)? Have these Indigenous institutions been meaningfully incorporated by formal government institutions at the watershed and territorial level? This study is situated within the broader debates surrounding reconciliation. It argues that meaningful reconciliation requires more than simple acknowledgement of rights or a duty to consult; it requires meaningful integration of Indigenous practices and perspectives into formal institutions, and most importantly, formal government institutions. A combined structural institutional analysis and discourse analysis of formal government institutions and documents of the Tłı̨chǫ Government, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Management Board and the Government of the Northwest Territories was conducted. Analysis focused on land and water management. It was found that the Tłı̨chǫ Government has created unique hybrid government institutions, grounded upon Tłı̨chǫ history, culture and practices and augmented by modern knowledge and practices through the principle of knowing two ways. However, the integration of Indigenous practices and perspectives remains limited in the formal government institutions and documents, and therefore formal practices, at the watershed and territorial levels. This suggests the possibility of a new “two solitudes” separating Indigenous peoples and their governments from territorial, provincial and federal governments in the day-to-day activities of governance. This study also raises the question of whether hybrid formal government institutions can be created and if they can, whether these can become institutions of reconciliation or remain expressions of institutional colonialism under resilient settler colonialism.