Blaire Topash-Caldwell

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New Mexico, Albuquerque, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9632

Approve Date

April 13, 2018

Project Title

Topash-Caldwell, Blaire K., U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'Anishinaabe Akiig: Reclaiming Indigenous Relationships to Place and Revitalizing Ecologies in the Great Lakes Region,' supervised by Dr. Les Field

Preliminary abstract: There is much anthropological evidence demonstrating how adverse environmental conditions disproportionately affect ethnic minorities. The Great Lakes is currently undergoing several adverse environmental regime shifts affecting many of the over forty federally recognized Native American tribes in that region. At the same time, Western scientists, especially biological and environmental specialists, seek Indigenous communities around the world for their traditional knowledge to address some of these complex and dangerous shifting environmental conditions. This type of extractive scientific enterprise is criticized in critical Indigenous studies as violating intellectual property rights of Indigenous communities and constituting neo-colonialism. In response to ongoing environmental injustices and neocolonial extractive practices, tribes in the Great Lakes region, specifically in Michigan and Wisconsin, are using Midewiwin (medicine) ceremonies–actualized in Anishinaabe Women’s Water Walks–to protest new forms of environmental injustice. Additionally, Anishinaabe tribes are revitalizing ecologies on and near their reservation lands even as they face new threats to their sovereignty from hydraulic fracturing and other natural resource management undertakings. Using an emerging method, the anthropology of walking, combined with participatory mapping methods, photovoice, and framed by a discussion of space and place, this ethnographic research investigates what role traditional knowledge and gendered ceremonial space play in Anishinaabe social relationships to land and the larger formation of contemporary Indigenous politics relating to the environment.