Redefining the Lexicon of Power, Envisioning the Future: The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Nation and the Comprehensive Land Claims Negotiations

  • Benoit Éthier École d’études autochtones (School of Indigenous Studies), Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Val-d’Or, Quebec, Canada
  • Gérald Ottawa Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw, La Tuque, Quebec, Canada
  • Christian Coocoo Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw, La Tuque, Quebec, Canada
Keywords: Comprehensive Land Claims Policy, Indigenous legal order, Indigenous knowledge, Atikamekw Nehirowisiw, Canada

Abstract

Treaties and land claims negotiations between state institutions and Indigenous Peoples are necessarily tied to issues of territorial entanglements, resistance and coexistence. Regularly, studies of these negotiation dynamics make explicit the articulation and differentiation of Indigenous “life projects,” referring to the embodiment of socio-cultural desires, visions, aspirations and purposes – vis-à-vis neoliberal development projects. This article focuses precisely on the dynamics of negotiation in which the Atikamekw Nehirowisiwok (north-central Quebec) and state institutions have been involved for the last 40 years under the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy. More specifically, it addresses different policy mechanisms such as the extinguishment policy, burden of proof, debt obligations and results-based approach that are part and parcel of the negotiation process. Without disregarding the unequal power relations, this article also presents the motivations and aspirations expressed by the Atikamekw Nehirowisiwok in the negotiation process. It explains how their engagements are mobilised into nehirowisiw orocowewin – that is, a larger and deeper political and cultural project relating to the affirmation of nehirowisiw miro pimatisiwin, an Indigenous way of life and living well that is tied to the maintenance of a creative and open-ended coexistence based on reciprocity, complementarity, autonomy and consensus.

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Published
2020-12-24
How to Cite
Éthier, B., Ottawa, G., & Coocoo, C. (2020). Redefining the Lexicon of Power, Envisioning the Future: The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Nation and the Comprehensive Land Claims Negotiations. Anthropologica, 62(2), 262-275. https://doi.org/10.3138/anth-2018-0054
Section
Thematic Section: Treaties: Living Together with the Land