About

Gerald Taiaiake Alfred is from Kahnawá:ke in the Mohawk Nation. He is a Professor of Indigenous Governance and Political Science at the University of Victoria. He is the recipient of a Canada Research Chair, the award for best column writing by the Native American Journalists Association, and a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. Taiaiake has served as an advisor on land and governance issues to his own and other First Nations’ governments since 1987, and before this he was an infantryman in the US Marine Corps. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Concordia University and his MA and Ph.D. in comparative politics and political theory from Cornell University. He is the author of three books: Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors and Peace, Power, Righteousness from Oxford University Press, and Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom, from the University of Toronto Press.

 

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  1. Dear Taiaiake,
    I have opened Wasase on many a cloudy day and found strength and rational hope in the pages. I am a white settler, and am learning how to be a better support to those around me, most recently to indigenous peoples involved in land defence. Two friends and I made a documentary last summer about Unist’ot’en Camp and the year-round resistance there bottom-lined by Unist’ot’en spokesperson Freda Huson and her partner Toghestiy. The documentary has been screened in parts of Turtle Island and now that he final version is done, I was wondering if you would be interested in watching the documentary and potentially showing it in one of your classes? If so, please feel free to email me at hilarysomerville@hotmail.com, and I will pass along the site and password. Thank you’ll for your time!
    Hilary Somerville

    • Niawen for the good word on my book, and Mahsi cho for the work you are doing to bring more focus on the struggle of our people to live our our responsibilities to the land and all of our relations in the natural environment.

  2. I am a fourth generation Canadian. I find use of the word “White Settler,” or the word “settler” in most contemporary contexts, to be divisive and offensive. This includes for New (first generation) Canadians.

    My ancestors did settle here from outside Canada, and can be accurately described as “settlers, non-Indigenous, etc.” But using this word to describe either yourself or others born and raised in Canada is pejorative.

    • Your objection is based on the mistaken assumption that non-indigenous people’s presence in this land is legitimized by time.

      • – “Settler” implies that the land was previously “un-settled” before the arrival of Europeans or others, which is clearly wrong.

        – “Presence” and “time” is also a circular argument, as it implies that those who did indeed come first – and ipso facto have been “present” longest – are in fact “legitimized” over others who may have come later.

    • Yeah, I am not sure why “white” has to be attached to the “settler” concept, which I support. The “settler” concept is not really about any one person in any one time, it is an attitude that has roots in western civilizaiton’s concepts (i.e. separation from nature, control and consumption of nature and others, individualism, etc.). Ironically, there are many aboriginal people who are aboriginal but do exhibit the settler attitude. I imagine too, and I could be wrong, that there are many non-aboriginal who have adopted indigenous thinking and my question would be to ask is it appropriate for those non-native brothers and sisters to be labelled “settler”….interesting eh.

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