Topic: Material land ownership in the Rainy River watershed
Keywords: land ownership, material power, settler-colonialism, Ojibwe, wild rice
Abstract: Control over land is materially enacted through specific relations between people, and people and territory. Although legal land tenure systems may clearly define how land can be used by whom, the reality tends to be more complex. This is particularly true for places in which the utilization of land is contested, such as the Rainy Lake watershed which includes parts of the United States, Canada, and various Ojibwe Native American territories. Although treaties between the two Settler-colonial states and the Ojibwe nations allowed the latter to use this land for subsistence, the practices of colonial settlement made the exercise of Indigenous subsistence practices increasingly difficult. In particular, the construction of dams on the lake and the ongoing control of water levels severely damaged the wild rice (Zizania palustris) stands on which the Ojibwe communities depended. Using a blend of Actor-Network-Theory, Institutional Ethnography, and Indigenous Research Methodologies, this research aims to understand through which practices ownership over land is materially exercised. While the findings will be specific to the Rainy Lake watershed, this specific lens may yield important insights over how ownership over land is materially exercised and contested when applied to other places.