DECOLONIZING MI'KMAW MEMORY OF TREATY: L’SƗTKUK’S LEARNING WITH ALLIES IN STRUGGLE FOR FOOD AND LIFEWAYS
ABSTRACT Treaty negotiations in Nova Scotia have been triggered by the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 1999, based on the Donald Marshall Jr. case, upholding a Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish for a livelihood. These negotiations are known as the Made-In-Nova Scotia Process. This dissertation explores questions about what the community of L’sɨtkuk has learned with our allies in struggle within multiple contexts to assert treaty rights, since 1999. What knowledge has evolved and what are the learning successes, challenges, and potential for realizing social change? In order to explore these questions from the perspective of L’sɨtkuk and our allies, I utilize the Mi’kmaq art of basket weaving as a way to center our voices against formal negotiation frameworks. Through the use of basket weaving and relational methods of storytelling, the dissertation illustrates that treaty negotiations are mired in interrelated processes of neoliberalism, colonialism, and capitalism forming what I term as ‘neoliberal colonial capitalism’. Of particular concern is how these negotiation frameworks focus on Land and natural resources as only commodities. The learning of L’sɨtkuk and our allies form a broader notion of treaty rooted in re-learning Land-based practices of hunting, fishing, and gathering constituting food and lifeways. These understandings are relational and include a responsibility to families and communities, to loved ones and ancestors in the spirit world, and to future generations by attending to the health of the resources and to the natural eco-systems that sustain them. By focusing on learning-in-struggle, the dissertation outlines a number of challenges and recommendations that relate to restoring relational understandings and practices of treaty. Our understandings contribute to an emerging range of anthropological perspectives on treaty relations and Indigenous scholarship on Land-based practices as a form of decolonization and resurgence outside formal state-Indigenous relations. Just as important, our understandings include relations with all of settler Canada. They also inform possible ways on how to move forward as a community and gauge our way through negotiations. In this sense the dissertation weaves together a basket that continues to carry our stories and L’sɨtkuk keeps going – Siaw pmiq L’sɨtkuk.