Phillippe Blouin

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

McGill U.

Grant number

Gr. 10286

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Blouin, Philippe (McGill U.) "Sailing Down Parallel Paths: an Anthropology of Relating and Belonging in Haudenosaunee Alliances"

PHILIPPE BLOUIN, then a graduate student at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, was awarded funding in April 2022 to aid research on “Sailing Down Parallel Paths: an Anthropology of Relating and Belonging in Haudenosaunee Alliances,” supervised by Dr. Eduardo Kohn. This research investigates the discrepancy between contemporary Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) oral narratives regarding traditional alliance protocols and settler-colonial approaches to Indigenous sovereignty both in the anthropological record and political-legal arenas in Canada. By way of an extensive fieldwork with knowledge keepers of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s ancestral governance system, the Kaianereh’ko:wa (Great Law of Peace) in six different communities, the author disentangles the seemingly paradoxical conception of alliance-through-separation conveyed by the Tehiotate, or Two Row Wampum, which knowledge keepers consider the framework for relations with settlers since it was first exchanged with the Dutch in the early seventeenth century. With its two rows of purple quahog shells woven on a white background, the Tehiohate symbolizes a river on which the original peoples’ canoe and the settlers’ ship travel side by side, its parallel lines suggesting that both can only move in the same direction if they refrain from encroaching upon each other’s path. Interviews with elders and activists, as well as participant observation of a court proceedings where a group Haudenosaunee women fought to protect burial grounds, brought the researcher to understand the Tehiohate as providing a pathway for rethinking both individual and collective sovereignties as duty bound to respect difference.