Cree Autonomy: a re-examination of domestic dependence


  • Stefan Johnson Graduate Student Department of Anthropology Michigan State University


First Nations’ status definitions construed by the Indian Act of 1888 in Canada bring to mind U.S. Supreme Court decisions stating that tribal nations were considered domestic dependents or wards of the Federal Government. The Cree of Northern Québec have challenged these paternalistic definitions through their litigation of the James Bay Hydro-electric Project. I offer in this paper that the Cree independently define their status of nationhood as an act of resistance against colonialism engendered in part through their relationship with the Hudson’s Bay Company and their relationship with the land. Retention of their commitment to their existing relationship with the land has informed the Cree Nation’s decisions regarding their autonomy while interacting with Governments intent upon dichotomizing human and other-than-human interactions.


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