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A Landscape of Left-Overs : Changing Conceptions of Place and Environment among Mi'kmaq Indians of Eastern Canada

Hornborg, Anne-Christine LU (2001) In Lund Studies in History of Religions 14.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

I september 1989 kom det till kanadensiska mi’kmaqindianers kännedom att ett enormt granitbrott (ett av de tre största i världen) planerades att öppnas vid Kellys Mountain på ön Cape Breton i östra Kanada. Mi’kmaqtraditionalister organiserade genast en fredlig trumceremoni på berget och en talesman deklarerade att det planerade granitbrottet var en förolämpning mot både mi’kmaqfolket och Moder Jord. Berget var för dem Kluskaps Mountain, en historisk, kulturell och betydelsefull andlig plats, eftersom det var deras gud och profet Kluskaps boning. Den från början fredliga mi’kmaqprotesten skulle senare utvecklas till en mera militant hållning och debatten om granitbrottet föras utifrån en klar... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

I september 1989 kom det till kanadensiska mi’kmaqindianers kännedom att ett enormt granitbrott (ett av de tre största i världen) planerades att öppnas vid Kellys Mountain på ön Cape Breton i östra Kanada. Mi’kmaqtraditionalister organiserade genast en fredlig trumceremoni på berget och en talesman deklarerade att det planerade granitbrottet var en förolämpning mot både mi’kmaqfolket och Moder Jord. Berget var för dem Kluskaps Mountain, en historisk, kulturell och betydelsefull andlig plats, eftersom det var deras gud och profet Kluskaps boning. Den från början fredliga mi’kmaqprotesten skulle senare utvecklas till en mera militant hållning och debatten om granitbrottet föras utifrån en klar polarisering av vissa begrepp, t.ex. västerländsk/mi’kmaqisk (”indiansk”) natursyn, västerländsk kolonisation/mi’kmaqisk (andra indiangruppers) förlust av sitt land, den vite mannens girighet/indianers andlighet och vördnad av Moder Jord. Mi’kmaqs åberopande av sin traditionella natursyn möttes av olika reaktioner i storsamhället. Kritiker ifrågasatte om det bland dagens moderna reservatsbor fortfarande fanns kvar en traditionell natursyn medan andra välkomnade ett alternativ till den västerländska natursyn som de menade var roten till dagens miljöhot. Denna avhandling undersöker historiska förändringar i mi’kmaqindianernas livsvärld. Mi’kmaqs kulturhero Kluskap blir en nyckelperson för att studera större frågor som tradition, skiftande föreställningar om natur och olika former av naturumgänge. Två perioder avgränsas i mi’kmaqs historia. Den första studien avser att beskriva den verklighetsuppfattning, kunskapssyn och miljöetik som ligger till grund för förmoderna mi’kmaqjägares ekokosmologi och som har omtalats som animism. Denna period omfattar tiden 1850 till 1930, då mi’kmaq tvingas in i ett reservatsboende. Den andra studien undersöker den eko-kosmologi som skapats av nutida reservatsbor och som skulle kunna betecknas som en ”helig ekologi”. Denna period placerar kulturheron i modern tid, 1990-talet, då hänvisningarna till traditionen kring honom spelade en stor roll i kampen mot det planerade gruvbrottet. Med exempel från denna kamp diskuteras hur mi’kmaq idag bygger upp sina traditioner och sitt naturumgänge i samspel med det moderna samhället, där miljörörelser, utbildning och panindianism spelar en viktig roll, men också reservatslivet. Genom att förankra sitt engagemang i reservatslivet har mi’kmaqtraditionalisterna i hög grad lyckats möta båda yttre och inre misstänksamhet om deras trovärdighet. (Less)
Abstract
This dissertation seeks to explore historical changes in the lifeworld of the Mi’kmaq Indians of Eastern Canada. The Mi’kmaq culture hero Kluskap here serves as a key persona in discussing issues such as traditions, changing conceptions of land, and human-environmental relations. In order not to depict Mi’kmaq culture as timeless, two important periods in its history are examined. The first study reviews historical evidence of the ontology, epistemology, and ethics – jointly labeled animism – that stem from a premodern Mi’kmaq hunting subsistence. This evidence dates from the period between 1850 and 1930, which is also the period when the Mi’kmaq were gradually being forced to settle in the reserves. The second study situates the culture... (More)
This dissertation seeks to explore historical changes in the lifeworld of the Mi’kmaq Indians of Eastern Canada. The Mi’kmaq culture hero Kluskap here serves as a key persona in discussing issues such as traditions, changing conceptions of land, and human-environmental relations. In order not to depict Mi’kmaq culture as timeless, two important periods in its history are examined. The first study reviews historical evidence of the ontology, epistemology, and ethics – jointly labeled animism – that stem from a premodern Mi’kmaq hunting subsistence. This evidence dates from the period between 1850 and 1930, which is also the period when the Mi’kmaq were gradually being forced to settle in the reserves. The second study situates the culture hero in the modern world of the 1990s, when allusions to Mi’kmaq tradition and to Kluskap played an important role in the struggle against a planned superquarry on Cape Breton. This study discusses the ecocosmology that has been formulated by modern reserve inhabitants and that could be labeled a “sacred ecology”. If the premodern ecocosmologies have been favorably treated by Westerners, the modern Natives’ attempt to create a “sacred ecology” has been received with ambivalence. It has been welcomed by some as an alternative to Western ways of treating nature, which threaten our global survival. But it has also been criticized as a modern construction designed by Natives to gain benefits from Canadian society. In the example of the Mi’kmaq struggle against the superquarry, this critique is discussed, with a focus on how the Mi’kmaq are rebuilding their traditions and environmental relations in interaction with modern society. In this process, environmental groups, pan-Indianism, and education play an important role, but so does reserve life. By anchoring their engagement in reserve life the Mi’kmaq traditionalists have to a large extent been able to confront both external and internal doubts about their authenticity. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Kurkiala, Mikael, Institutionen för Kulturantropologi och Etnologi, Uppsala Universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
animism, traditional ecological knowledge, biocentrism, ecological ethics, environmental relations, being-in-the-world, lifeworlds, phenomenology, power, oral tradition, Kluskap, culture hero, tradition, Canada, Mi’kmaq Indians, Nova Scotia, sacred places, landscape, nature vs. culture, Cultural anthropology, ethnology, Kulturantropologi, etnologi
in
Lund Studies in History of Religions
volume
14
pages
330 pages
publisher
Almqvist & Wiksell International
defense location
Edens hörsal
defense date
2001-12-13 10:15
ISSN
1103-4882
ISBN
91-22-01942-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
290e036d-4f45-41e9-b400-8a42a484ed75 (old id 20098)
date added to LUP
2007-05-28 08:45:13
date last changed
2018-05-29 09:47:22
@phdthesis{290e036d-4f45-41e9-b400-8a42a484ed75,
  abstract     = {This dissertation seeks to explore historical changes in the lifeworld of the Mi’kmaq Indians of Eastern Canada. The Mi’kmaq culture hero Kluskap here serves as a key persona in discussing issues such as traditions, changing conceptions of land, and human-environmental relations. In order not to depict Mi’kmaq culture as timeless, two important periods in its history are examined. The first study reviews historical evidence of the ontology, epistemology, and ethics – jointly labeled animism – that stem from a premodern Mi’kmaq hunting subsistence. This evidence dates from the period between 1850 and 1930, which is also the period when the Mi’kmaq were gradually being forced to settle in the reserves. The second study situates the culture hero in the modern world of the 1990s, when allusions to Mi’kmaq tradition and to Kluskap played an important role in the struggle against a planned superquarry on Cape Breton. This study discusses the ecocosmology that has been formulated by modern reserve inhabitants and that could be labeled a “sacred ecology”. If the premodern ecocosmologies have been favorably treated by Westerners, the modern Natives’ attempt to create a “sacred ecology” has been received with ambivalence. It has been welcomed by some as an alternative to Western ways of treating nature, which threaten our global survival. But it has also been criticized as a modern construction designed by Natives to gain benefits from Canadian society. In the example of the Mi’kmaq struggle against the superquarry, this critique is discussed, with a focus on how the Mi’kmaq are rebuilding their traditions and environmental relations in interaction with modern society. In this process, environmental groups, pan-Indianism, and education play an important role, but so does reserve life. By anchoring their engagement in reserve life the Mi’kmaq traditionalists have to a large extent been able to confront both external and internal doubts about their authenticity.},
  author       = {Hornborg, Anne-Christine},
  isbn         = {91-22-01942-1},
  issn         = {1103-4882},
  keyword      = {animism,traditional ecological knowledge,biocentrism,ecological ethics,environmental relations,being-in-the-world,lifeworlds,phenomenology,power,oral tradition,Kluskap,culture hero,tradition,Canada,Mi’kmaq Indians,Nova Scotia,sacred places,landscape,nature vs. culture,Cultural anthropology,ethnology,Kulturantropologi,etnologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {330},
  publisher    = {Almqvist & Wiksell International},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Studies in History of Religions},
  title        = {A Landscape of Left-Overs : Changing Conceptions of Place and Environment among Mi'kmaq Indians of Eastern Canada},
  volume       = {14},
  year         = {2001},
}