Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationMcGill U.
Grant numberGr. 10286
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleBlouin, Philippe (McGill U.) "Sailing Down Parallel Paths: an Anthropology of Relating and Belonging in Haudenosaunee Alliances"
With its two rows of purple quahog shells woven on a white background, the Tehiohate Two Row Wampum belt symbolizes a river on which the original peoples’ canoe and the settlers’ ship travel side by side. Preserving the memory of an alliance made between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers in the early seventeenth century, its parallel lines suggest that for both communities to move in the same direction, they must refrain from veering into each other’s path. My dissertation explores this paradoxical conception of alliance through separation by way of an unprecedented dialogue with founding members of the Mohawk Warrior Society, and followers of the precolonial Haudenosaunee constitution of the Kaianerekó:wa. Even though this oral tradition was instrumental in shaping anthropological theories of alliance and kinship, its authenticity was often questioned by ethnologists, while the Tehiohate was portrayed as a politically motivated invention. Using archival records, interviews, and my participant observation as a Quebecois settler ally in diplomatic events in Quebec, Ontario, and New York, I take alliance both as a method and an object to examine how Haudenosaunee traditionalists both conceptualize and practice relating and belonging, helping them to rectify their ethnographers’ trajectory in and on their own terms.