Respectful and reciprocal relationships with land are at the heart of many Indigenous cultures and societies. Land is also at the core of settler colonialism. Indigenous peoples have not only been dispossessed of land for settler occupation and resource extraction, but the transformation of land into property has created myriad challenges to ongoing struggles of land repatriation and renewal. We introduce several perspectives on land rooted in diverse Indigenous worldviews and contrast them with settler colonial perspectives rooted in Eurocentric worldviews. We then examine several examples in Canada where Indigenous nations attempt to reconnect with their homelands, protect them, and/or engage with them for economic development. We look at land relationships rooted in historical treaties, contemporary comprehensive claims/self-government agreements, the Indian Act, and the defence of unceded territories. The Indigenous communities we look at include the Six Nations of the Grand River, the Nisga’a Lisims Government, the Westbank First Nation, and the Wet’suwet’en. We contend that a complex configuration of settler colonial institutions challenges long-term efforts for Indigenous land reclamation, protection, and sustainable development, however, Indigenous nations remain steadfast in asserting their self-determination in diverse relational ways inside and outside of settler state systems.
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.