Violence against land defenders

There is important new work on the violence against land defenders worth reading over the summer. Here is a recent article in Global Environmental Change and a write up in The Ecologist with some background to it.

It is not easy reading; nor should it be owing to the continued violence against land defenders, many of whom are Indigenous peoples. Of course, land defenders face challenges on a variety of fronts and this new book on Berta Cáceres does a very good job of positioning land struggles in a broader context. Here is the blurb from the publisher:

Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Dams, Death Squads, and an Indigenous Defender’s Battle for the Planet

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The first time Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres met the journalist Nina Lakhani, Cáceres said, ‘The army has an assassination list with my name at the top. I want to live, but in this country there is total impunity. When they want to kill me, they will do it.’ In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Prize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded hydroelectric dam on a river sacred to her Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead.

Lakhani tracked Cáceres remarkable career, in which the defender doggedly pursued her work in the face of years of threats and while friends and colleagues in Honduras were exiled and killed defending basic rights. Lakhani herself endured intimidation and harassment as she investigated the murder. She was the only foreign journalist to attend the 2018 trial of Cáceres’s killers, where state security officials, employees of the dam company and hired hitmen were found guilty of murder. Many questions about who ordered and paid for the killing remain unanswered.

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews, confidential legal filings, and corporate documents unearthed after years of reporting in Honduras, Lakhani paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman in a state beholden to corporate powers, organised crime, and the United States.

 

Amazing triple set of resources on Indigenous waters: from Standing Rock to Australia (book + 2 special issues)

There are three recent (and really good) resources that have come out on Indigenous waters in the past several weeks: a book and two special issues, each below and many open access.

Standing With Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement (University of Minnesota Press)

From the Publisher Website:

image_miniIt is prophecy. A Black Snake will spread itself across the land, bringing destruction while uniting Indigenous nations. The Dakota Access Pipeline is the Black Snake, crossing the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The oil pipeline united communities along its path—from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois—and galvanized a twenty-first-century Indigenous resistance movement marching under the banner Mni Wiconi—Water Is Life! Standing Rock youth issued a call, and millions around the world and thousands of Water Protectors from more than three hundred Native nations answered. Amid the movement to protect the land and the water that millions depend on for life, the Oceti Sakowin (the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota people) reunited. A nation was reborn with renewed power to protect the environment and support Indigenous grassroots education and organizing. This book assembles the multitude of voices of writers, thinkers, artists, and activists from that movement.

Through poetry and prose, essays, photography, interviews, and polemical interventions, the contributors, including leaders of the Standing Rock movement, reflect on Indigenous history and politics and on the movement’s significance. Their work challenges our understanding of colonial history not simply as “lessons learned” but as essential guideposts for current and future activism.

Transformative Water Relations: Indigenous Interventions in Global Political Economies

This is a special, open-access issue in the journal Global Environmental Politics [click here if the direct links below are off]. It is edited by Kate Neville and Glen Coulthard and includes pieces from many scholars that are part of the Decolonizing Water project.

There are six articles, here are the titles/authors.

Kate J. Neville and Glen Coulthard
Including Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Environmental Assessments: Restructuring the Process, Rachel Arsenault, Carrie Bourassa, Sibyl Diver, Deborah McGregor, and Aaron Witham

Indigenous water management

This is a special issue in the Australasian Journal of Environmental Managment  and it is edited by Sue Jackson and Bradley Moggridge (Not all of it is open access but the lead article is…at least it was when I posted this).

Indigenous water management, Sue Jackson & Bradley Moggridge
Indigenous nation building for environmental futures: Murrundi flows through Ngarrindjeri country, Steve Hemming, Daryle Rigney, Simone Bignall, Shaun Berg & Grant Rigney

Tales of Sweetgrass and Trees: Robin Wall Kimmerer with Richard Powers and Terry Tempest Williams

New Book – Our history is the future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance

Nick Estes has been writing about Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock in powerful ways, so his new book coming in just over one month’s time is one I look forward to reading (also a co-edited book here!)

Here is the book description from Verso (available elsewhere too, I believe with Penguin/Random House in Canada):

How two centuries of Indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life”

 

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In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century. Water Protectors knew this battle for native sovereignty had already been fought many times before, and that, even after the encampment was gone, their anticolonial struggle would continue. In Our History Is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement. Our History Is the Future is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance.

Global Red Power: Fourth World Resurgent, Glen Coulthard’s Antipode Lecture

John Borrows and Val Napoleon: The role of the sacred in Indigenous law and reconciliation

Whose land is it anyway? Open access book on decolonialism in Canada

whose land is it anyways

 

This is a fantastic, and timely, open-access book from some of Canada’s leading thinkers on Indigenous relations to land, law, education, and much else. There’s no simple way to capture the variety of the contributions in this decolonial handbook, except to say they are all worth reading. Download the PDF here: McFarlane and Schabus Whose land is it anyway 2018

Kyle P. Whyte on Living Our Ancestors’ Dystopia: Indigenous Peoples, Conservation and the Anthropocene

How Canadian bureaucrats make state territory in the name of ‘restoring’ Indigenous rights

I’m quite happy that some recent work of mine is now out in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers.[very happy to send FREE copies to anybody by email or by post if a hardcopy is preferred].

The paper looks at how bureaucrats in Canada used the development of new legislation regarding private property on lands reserved for First Nations to convert Indigenous claims to territory into spaces akin to municipalities. I’ve put the abstract below, and aim to put out a short piece or two to summarize soon; one aspect of the work is its basis in bureaucratic practices…many of which are about addressing critiques within and beyond the government. So I’ll be keen to see what (if any) responses it generates.

Bureaucratic Territory: First Nations, Private Property, and “Turn-Key” Colonialism in Canada

Abstract:

Since 2006, successive Canadian governments have worked to create private property regimes on lands reserved for First Nations. This article examines how the state framed the theory and history of Aboriginal property rights to achieve this goal. It then shows how, under the pretense of restoration, bureaucrats developed legislation that would create novel political spaces where, once converted to private property, reserved lands would function as a new kind of federal municipality in Canada. These changes took place in two ways: First, bureaucrats situated Aboriginal property within the state apparatus and reconfigured Indigenous territorial rights into a series of “regulatory gaps” regarding voting thresholds, certainty of title, and the historical misrepresentation of First Nations economies. Second, the government crafted legislation under what is known as the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative that, by closing regulatory gaps, would produce private property regimes analogous to municipal arrangements elsewhere in Canada. These bureaucratic practices realigned internal state mechanisms to produce novel external boundaries among the state, Indigenous lands, and the economy. By tracking how bureaucratic practices adapted to Indigenous refusals of state agendas, the article shows how the bureaucratic production of territory gave form to a new iteration of settler-colonialism in Canada.

 

Taiaiake Alfred: Reconciliation as Recolonization