Expanding the Praxis of Indigenous Rights: Alternatives to Colonial Relations in the Regional Land Use Planning Process of the Mushkegowuk Cree
Bowie, Ryan Leslie David
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This research examines the conflict between provincial and Indigenous land use planning approaches in northern Ontario that involve the traditional territories of the Mushkegowuk Cree. Specifically, I examine how the politics of resurgence were evident in the Mushkegowuk Regional Land Use Planning initiative (2008-2015) in ways that challenged or broadened the conception of rights reconciliation envisioned in the Ontario governments Far North Act (2010). Significant tensions often exist between the goals of state directed environmental governance and management initiatives, and the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities. Therefore, Indigenous communities in some instances have unilaterally developed their own initiatives, shifting the praxis of rights from participation in the institutions of the state, towards autonomous nation-building exercises. The Mushkegowuk Land Use Planning initiative is representative of this shift in rights praxis where Indigenous driven environmental governance and management processes potentially provide for more robust foundations to realize community goals, and for negotiating with state governments and other interests. The dissertation explores how a politics of resurgence might transcend the sphere of culture to support self-determination in the governance and management of Indigenous homelands. It does so by first developing a theory of resurgent rights praxis by examining Indigenist thinking on the subjects of self-determination and cultural resurgence. Second, the institutional development of land use planning in northern Ontario is tracked, with specific attention to the Far North Initiative and development of the Far North Act. Third, the Mushkegowuk Regional Land Use Planning initiative is examined, focusing on the process captured by documentation and meeting minutes. Lastly, interviews with several people involved with planning at the Mushkegowuk Council and First Nations community levels are analyzed to interrogate the goals, the role of cultural and political traditions in planning, and how Omushkego relationships with their lands are defined and made relevant to land use planning in the Mushkegowuk initiative.