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Humanities 2016, 5(3), 55; doi:10.3390/h5030055

Indigenous ExtrACTIVISM in Boreal Canada: Colonial Legacies, Contemporary Struggles and Sovereign Futures

Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 111 Morrill Hall, 1465 Mt. Vernon Ave., Marion, OH 43302, USA
Academic Editors: Karen L Thornber and Tom Havens
Received: 30 October 2015 / Revised: 23 December 2015 / Accepted: 12 January 2016 / Published: 15 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Indigeneities and the Environment)
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Abstract

This article approaches contemporary extractivism as an environmentally and socially destructive extension of an enduring colonial societal structure. Manifested in massive hydroelectric developments, clearcut logging, mining, and unconventional oil and gas production, extractivism removes natural resources from their points of origin and dislocates the emplaced benefits they provide. Because externally imposed resource extraction threatens Indigenous peoples’ land-based self-determination, industrial sites often become contested, politicized landscapes. Consequently, I also illuminate the struggles of those who strive to turn dreams for sovereign futures into reality through extrACTIVIST resistance to extractivist schemes. Presenting four case synopses—from across Canada’s boreal forest and spanning a broad range of extractive undertakings—that highlight both sides of the extractivism/ACTIVISM formulation, this article exposes the political roots of resource-related conflicts and contributes to an emerging comparative political ecology of settler colonialism. While extractivism’s environmental effects are immediate and arresting, these physical transformations have significant cultural consequences that are underlain by profound political inequities. I ultimately suggest that because extractivism is colonial in its causal logic, effective opposition cannot emerge from environmentalism alone, but will instead arise from movements that pose systemic challenges to conjoined processes of social, economic, and environmental injustice. View Full-Text
Keywords: activism; Canada; clearcutting; extractivism; First Nations; hydroelectric development; mining; natural resource conflicts; settler colonialism; tar sands activism; Canada; clearcutting; extractivism; First Nations; hydroelectric development; mining; natural resource conflicts; settler colonialism; tar sands
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Willow, A.J. Indigenous ExtrACTIVISM in Boreal Canada: Colonial Legacies, Contemporary Struggles and Sovereign Futures. Humanities 2016, 5, 55.

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