Indigenous Laws on Indigenous Lands: Land Back as Community Resurgence

By: Jeff Corntassel


Dr. Jeff Corntassel is a writer, teacher and father from the Cherokee Nation. He is currently Associate Professor in the Indigenous Studies Department at the University of Victoria and Acting Director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE). His research and teaching interests focus on “Everyday Acts of Resurgence” and the intersections between Indigenous resurgence, climate change, gender, and community well-being. He is currently completing work for his forthcoming book on Sustainable Self-Determination, which examines Indigenous climate justice, food security, and gender-based resurgence.

It is not a little surprising, that when we enter into treaties with our brothers, the whites, their whole cry is ‘more land’ … Again, were we to enquire by what law or authority you set up a claim; I answer, none! Your laws extend not into our country, nor ever did; you talk of the law of nature and the law of nations, and they are both against you … You say, “Why do not the Indians till the ground, and live as we do?” May we not with equal propriety, ask why the white people do not hunt and live as we do? [i]

Kaiyahtehee or Old Tassel, July 1, 1777 (See “Colonel Tatham,” The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year 1820, vol IV (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1820) at 161–63).


Speaking at the 1777 treaty negotiations, which focused on setting new boundaries between yonega or settlers[ii] and Cherokees, Kaiyahtehee noted that the treaty commissioners seemed obsessed with taking more Cherokee land.[iii] As the above quote suggests, Cherokees such as Kaiyahtehee witnessed massive settler encroachment onto their lands, waters and more-than-human relations, which was a direct violation of Cherokee laws and their self-determining authority. Kaiyahtehee holds the colonial negotiators accountable by asking them by “what law or authority you set up a claim,” concluding that they violated both Cherokee and yoneg laws. When considering the larger impacts of these violations on Indigenous nations, the results have been devastating for Indigenous nations, lands, waters, and more-than-human relationships. Findings from the Yellowhead Institute’s Land Back report highlight the pattern and impacts of settler colonial land theft: “If Indigenous legal traditions are not recognized to have standing in decision-making on resource management, the result is alienation; a non-consensual land theft that structures much of Indigenous-state relations into the present.”[iv] This article looks at some of the ways that the “land back” movement creates new spaces for community resurgence. Additionally, I examine how land back relates more specifically to Cherokee values and practices. In the concluding sections, I look at some fatal flaws of reconciliation approaches, as well as some future pathways toward solidarity with land back movements.

What is striking is how consistent the above-referenced 1777 observations are with contemporary Indigenous struggles for “land back.” Broadly speaking, we can think of land back as the regeneration of Indigenous laws on Indigenous lands and waters. It is a call to liberate stolen lands and waters from current colonial encroachments and legal fictions. There is an urgency here as the health of Indigenous lands and waters is intrinsically linked to the health of Indigenous bodies and communities. According to a “LANDBACK Manifesto” based on the return of the Black Hills to Lakota peoples, “It is our belonging to the land – because – we are the land.”[v] Land is the lifework of Indigenous peoples. From this perspective, land back can be viewed as Indigenous-led reclamations grounded in “consent-based jurisdiction.”[vi] The land back movement signals a reassertion of relational responsibilities around place-based values, intimacies, protocols, stories and governance.

At its core, land back is a reassertion of Indigenous self-determining authority, governance, and community resurgence. When considering the linkages with Indigenous resurgence, similarities emerge around decentering states and heteropatriarchal institutions to fully engage in “the complex interrelationships between Indigenous nationhood, place-based relationships, and community-centred practices that reinvigorate everyday acts of renewal and regeneration.”[vii] However, there are multiple strands of land back and community resurgence – no one template exists for this movement. Resurgence is continuously being remembered, reinvented, and reasserted by contemporary Indigenous youth and leaders. This was certainly evident with the Indigenous youth occupation of the British Columbia legislature in 2020.

Almost a year ago, on February 6, 2020, Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en occupied the steps of the British Columbia legislature for seventeen days in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en peoples, who were arrested for defending their unceded homelands and waterways from encroachment by Coastal GasLink (CGL) and for opposing the proposed construction of a $6.6-billion gas pipeline across their territory. As one of several witnesses and supporters of this Indigenous-led solidarity action, I held classes on the steps of the legislature, and we made this important moment part of our class curriculum. Wrapped in blankets during the cold winter nights and keeping the ceremonial fire going, these courageous youth embodied leadership by showing what land back meant beyond the hashtag. Hanging over the legislature steps was a large banner that stated, “First they took the children from the land, now they take the land from the children.” Leaders of the movement saw firsthand the intergenerational impacts of violence and disruptions to Indigenous relationships to the land, water and community. In making these observations, Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en concluded that “reconciliation is dead.”

During this time, British Columbia Premier John Horgan, when discussing Wet’suwet’en peoples defending their territories from encroachment by the CGL pipeline, stated that the “rule of law” must prevail and the project “has every right to proceed.”[viii] Horgan’s invocation of the rule of law was especially timely since, on November 26, 2019, BC legislators unanimously passed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIPA) into law.[ix] Additionally, the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), of which Canada is a signatory, issued the following statement in December 2019:

[CERD] [c]alls upon the State party to immediately halt the construction and suspend all permits and approvals for the construction of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline in the traditional and unceded lands and territories of the Wet’suwet’en people, until they grant their free, prior and informed consent, following the full and adequate discharge of the duty to consult.[x]

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Prevention of Racial Discrimination, Including Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure. Decision 1 (100) (25 November -13 December 2019).

Unfortunately, neither the passage of UNDRIPA, nor the CERD appeals to Canada, had any impact on the “rule of law” regarding Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ eviction of CGL for being on Wet’suwet’en lands without their free, prior, and informed consent. Returning to the quote from Kaiyahtehee, Wet’suwet’en peoples and those standing in solidarity had noticed the contradictions of Horgan’s words: “you talk of the law of nature and the law of nations, and they are both against you.” Unfortunately, Horgan wouldn’t abide by provincial and international laws, let alone the laws of Wet’suwet’en peoples.[xi]

Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en also witnessed how Indigenous peoples are criminalized for their defense of the lands, waters, and communities. On March 4, 2020, seven members of Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en were invited inside the parliament building to meet with MLA Scott Fraser, the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. When it became clear that Fraser would not commit to stopping CGL encroachment onto Wet’suwet’en territory, the talks broke down and the youth refused to leave his office. As a result, five of the youths were handcuffed, dragged into the hallway, and later arrested for “mischief.”[xii]

Gitxsan youth Shay Lynn Sampson was one of the five youths who were arrested. Reflecting on this event a year later, she states, “I [went] from a student into something a lot bigger than that, in a way, something that was going on across the country that was ultimately affecting a lot of people that were family to me.”[xiii] The arrest had a significant impact on Sampson’s life, and she ultimately chose to leave Victoria to spend time with her family on Wet’suwet’en territory, “drinking water from the Wedzin Kwa river, also known as the Morice River, that she’d fought to protect.”[xiv]

Being on the frontlines, the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en experienced the linkages between the lack of free, prior, and informed consent over Indigenous lands and how this violence also extends to Indigenous bodies. Anishinaabe scholar Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark demonstrates that a process of criminalizing Indigenous resistance and defense of their self-determining authority was a historically conscious effort by the United States and Canada to “reduce Indigenous political authority, domesticating Indigenous nations within the settler state, while producing the settler nation-state and its accompanying legitimating juridical narratives.”[xv]  This process of criminalization is also gendered, as men’s, women’s and two spirit bodies are treated differently by the state. As Cree scholar Alex Wilson asserts, “Indigenous sovereignty over our lands is inseparable from sovereignty over our bodies, sexuality and gender self-expression.”[xvi] This recognition of inseparability from body and land sovereignty is at the core of the land back movement. The regeneration of Indigenous laws on Indigenous lands (and waters) necessarily extends to Indigenous bodies.

According to Sampson, “Being on the frontline has been like a huge step in realizing how vulnerable I am in my demographic as a young Indigenous woman and the different ways that I’m criminalized for what I’m standing up for.”[xvii] Sampson and others have recognized that acting to protect Indigenous lands and waters is often criminalized by the state. Land back is about returning to consent-based jurisdiction and rematriating self-determining authority back to Indigenous territories.

Cherokee Land Back

For Cherokees, dirt or soil is ᎦᏓ (gada), which has similarities to ᎦᏚ (gadu), the word for bread. After all, the soil is so closely intertwined with food since both nurture and sustain us. But calling for dirt or soil back doesn’t correlate with the meaning of land back. More broadly, people might talk about the need to take care of Elohi, or our Middle World: Earth. However, land back doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re taking the earth back. It’s less about the materiality of the land, although that is important, and more about renewing our relationships to these places.

The closest equivalent I could find, with the help of Cherokee language speakers, was the word ogenvsv, which means “our home.”[xviii] There is also tsotsilosv, which means “where we came from.” The Cherokee phrase ogenvsv dvgiluhisdi agwaduli comes the closest to what I think land back intends: I want to return to our home. This return home can take several forms; it is about protecting and honoring those relationships and places that we hold sacred and that promote our health and well-being as Indigenous nations – upholding our relational responsibilities.

A recent initiative undertaken by the Cherokee Nation and Buffalo National River for gathering plants within the park’s boundaries illustrates how land back movements can take multiple forms. The Cherokee Nation, which has over 370,000 citizens today, has experienced profound loss and trauma around our relationships to lands and waters since forced removal from our original territories to Oklahoma in 1838-39. After removal to northeastern Oklahoma, and as result of allotment policies and Oklahoma statehood, “the Cherokee people lost nearly 98% of our tribal lands to encroachment and ‘surplus’ sales.”[xix] As Cherokee scholar Clint Carroll points out, Cherokee territory in Oklahoma once comprised 4.42 million acres in fee-simple ownership, and has now been reduced to “100,000 acres in scattered, ‘checkerboarded’ parcels.”[xx] In the fall of 2008, an important gathering took place among Cherokee Elders to address concerns around maintaining close relationships with the land. According to Carroll:

During a special meeting with Cherokee Nation staff regarding the status of Cherokee environmental knowledge, elders were deeply troubled by the rapid decline in its transmission as compared with when they were growing up. On that day, they declared to make a concerted effort to revitalize land-based ways of life among younger Cherokees with the hope that they be continued for generations to come. Within this goal, they conceived the statement, nvwoti asquangododi — “to keep the medicine going,” which, along with their formally adopted name, acknowledges the role that traditional medicine plays in maintaining Cherokees’ relationships with the land.[xxi]

Clint Carroll, “Cherokee Relationships to Land: Reflections on a Historic Plant Gathering Agreement Between Buffalo National River and the Cherokee Nation” (2020) 36:1 Parks Stewardship Forum 154 at 155.

As a result of the formation of the “Medicine Keepers” and a commitment to youth mentorship, the Cherokee Nation entered into an agreement with the National Park Service in 2019 regarding the “gathering of plant parts”: “[t]he Cherokee Nation would carry out plant harvesting activities to include target species in the quantities during the optimal collection seasons outlined.”[xxii] This important agreement outlines a vision for future Cherokee use of the land that was previously not accessible. While it does not offer full return of the land, it is an important step in renewing relationships with the Buffalo National River area and to mentor future generations of Cherokee Medicine Keepers. Carroll observed firsthand how this new agreement impacted Cherokee Elders and youth:

Some of our elders were able to see plants growing in the wild that they hadn’t seen in years. As I watched them walk through the woods, it was like they were seeing old friends. This memory leaves me with a profound feeling of hope that through this historic agreement, our younger generations will also share the experience of our renewed connection to this place.[xxiii]

Clint Carroll, “Cherokee Relationships to Land: Reflections on a Historic Plant Gathering Agreement Between Buffalo National River and the Cherokee Nation” (2020) 36:1 Parks Stewardship Forum 154 at 157.

The above quote points out the regenerative aspects of land back and how creating new spaces for Indigenous resurgence can promote the health and well-being of future generations. These new agreements may be complicated and often tenuous, but they lay the groundwork for new iterations of community-led and consent-based jurisdictions.

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court, in McGirt v Oklahoma (2020), determined that over half of Oklahoma (19 million acres of Cherokee, Muscogee Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole nation lands) reverts back to Indigenous reservation land.[xxiv] Consequently, any major crime involving Indigenous peoples on the reservation land of these five nations now falls under federal (and not Oklahoma state) jurisdiction. While the McGirt case does not entail the return of lands, it is a significant ruling regarding the reassertion of Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty. It also has implications for land back outside of major crimes when considering how Indigenous self-determination can be asserted on reservation lands with respect to treaties, taxation, hunting and fishing, governance and other areas. In the following section, I examine some of the dead-ends of the reconciliation discourse and potential impediments to land back.

The Dead-Ends of Reconciliation

Has reconciliation died or was it ever truly alive in the first place? As Gitksan scholar and activist Cindy Blackstock points out, “reconciliation means not saying sorry twice.”[xxv]  She elaborates further by stating:

Reconciliation is not just about saying sorry, it is about understanding the harm in a way that not only acknowledges the past but also leads to new awareness and commitment to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future. Reconciliation requires not just saying the right thing but doing the right thing.[xxvi]

Blackstock, “Reconciliation Means Not Saying Sorry Twice: Lessons from Child Welfare in Canada” in Marlene Brant Castellano,Linda Archibald & Mike DeGagne, eds, From Truth to Reconciliation (Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2008) at 174.

Designed to address historical and ongoing harms to Indigenous children, families and communities, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada operated from 2008-2015. The TRC was created to address the genocidal legacy of residential schools that forced the removal of over 160,000 Indigenous children (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) from their families and homelands. Commissioners of the TRC, who published the TRC Final Report in 2015, which was based on nearly 7,000 statement by survivors, and detailed ninety-four Calls to Action, urged Canadian officials and citizens to move from “apology to action” for meaningful reconciliation to occur.[xxvii] Unfortunately, since 2015, there has not been a comprehensive federal plan to implement the ninety-four TRC Calls to Action. According to a recent Yellowhead report assessing the implementation of the TRC Calls to Action, five years after they were released, only eight of the ninety-four recommendations have been fulfilled, which is less than a ten percent success rate.[xxviii]

There are at least four reconciliation ‘dead-ends’ that can divert Indigenous peoples’ energies away from land back and resurgence and towards a more colonial agenda:

1.         Pursuit of reconciliation as economic and political certainty;

2.         Pursuit of reconciliation as returning to a mythical previous condition;

3.         Pursuit of reconciliation as a historical reboot;

4.         And pursuit of reconciliation as risk management.

The pursuit of economic and political certainty is often sought by federal and provincial authorities in order to secure Indigenous land and to promote corporate investment. If meaningful reconciliation is to take place, it must involve significant land return for Indigenous nations to engage in the relationships that keep them healthy. Uncertainty actually allows Indigenous nations to exercise greater self-determining authority. According to the late Secwépemc activist Art Manuel: “The existing uncertainty is, in fact, the biggest power we have for pushing the federal government to change the present extinguishment policy.”[xxix]

Reconciliation presupposes a return to a previous harmonious relationship. However, what if that harmonious relationship never really existed in the first place? The states of Canada and the U.S. are founded on myths of terra nullius, Doctrine of Use and Doctrine of Discovery, which necessitated the criminalization of Indigenous bodies to justify the taking of their land. As Stark points out, “casting Indigenous men and women as savage peoples in need of civilization and composing Indigenous lands as lawless spaces absent legal order, made it possible for the United States and Canada to shift and expand the boundaries of both settler law and the nation itself by judicially proclaiming their own criminal behaviors as lawful.”[xxx]

When thinking of reconciliation as a historical reboot, “forgive and forget” is a common phrase designed to promote a reconciliation of amnesia. The preamble to the mandate for the TRC states: “There is an emerging and compelling desire to put the events of the past behind us so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future.”[xxxi] This linear notion of time and mandated forgetfulness is often at odds with the long memories of Indigenous nations and peoples. One cannot simply “move on” from trauma until the land question and violence of the state, including churches and institutions, are meaningfully addressed. These shape-shifting forms of colonization are part of the ongoing colonial history of Turtle Island and are being challenged daily by Indigenous nations asserting their self-determining authority.

Finally, reconciliation is often used as a tool to placate or co-opt Indigenous peoples into roles that take their energies away from land, cultural practices, and a community focus. Reconciliation as conflict management often focuses on deficit models of Indigenous peoples and tries to bridge the economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. However, closing the gap in wealth does nothing to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous worldviews. Unfortunately, a colonial compartmentalization of roles and responsibilities can detach Indigenous governance from land, water, and economies. According to Manuel: “All that talk about respect and reconciliation is self-serving rhetoric, because if the prime minister and the premiers actually respected indigenous peoples, they would recognize that they must first respect and affirm our indigenous rights to our lands before real reconciliation is even logically possible.”[xxxii]

So, if we are to avoid the four intellectual and policy dead-ends of reconciliation, it is important to focus on ways that Indigenous free, prior, and informed consent and jurisdictional authorities are honored and respected. One thing is clear however – Reconciliation is dead on arrival when it fails to recognize the resurgence of Indigenous laws on Indigenous lands.


The land back movement challenges the legitimacy of state jurisdictional authority. By viewing Indigenous lands and bodies as inherently linked, one begins to see how the reassertion of consent-based jurisdiction is crucial to the health and well-being of Indigenous nations, peoples, and communities. For Cherokees, this may take different forms, such as new agreements with the National Park Service, which can enable the sharing of stories, language, and knowledge about plants to future generations. Land back is creating new spaces for community resurgence to thrive. When thinking about solidarity actions with Indigenous land back movements, it is important to understand the different community contexts and articulations of land back – from the Six Nations land reclamation at the 1492 Land Back Lane camp[xxxiii] to the Secwépemc land defenders and the Tiny House Warrior Movement[xxxiv] and movements across Turtle Island and beyond. Additionally, reconciliation as a discourse has some fatal flaws and can divert attention from land back in four critical ways as referenced in the previous section: pursuit of reconciliation as economic and political certainty; returning to a mythical previous condition; a historical reboot; and as risk management. With this in mind, what are some promising future pathways to land back?

There are several strategies that emerge from land back and community resurgence movements that can provide direction for future Indigenous-led strategies: decentering as decolonizing; land back as climate justice; reciprocity as solidarity; and active witnessing. Decentering the state and other heteropatriarchal institutions in your everyday life keeps the focus on Indigenous nationhood and land back. By turning away from the politics of recognition, heteropatriarchy, and settler colonialism, new spaces for community resurgence are opened up. It should be pointed out that turning away from the state does not mean complete disengagement; it is a strategy to make the state redundant by reinvigorating Indigenous governance.[xxxv]

Turning away from the state also exposes the illegitimate and unjust foundations of the state’s authority. By invoking the “rule of law,” Horgan demonstrated the contradictions embedded in his understanding of UNDRIPA as well as ongoing violations of Wet’suwet’en law. By de-centering state authority and centering Wet’suwet’en law, one can begin to see where energies can best be directed to promote meaningful justice, accountability, and resurgence. Decentering the state in our everyday lives means centering our connections to lands, communities, and cultures.

A second dimension of land back is its close linkages with climate justice. Extractivism, use of fossil fuels, and deforestation of Indigenous lands are at the heart of the current climate crisis. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed what Indigenous peoples already knew: the world’s Indigenous Peoples play a key role in protecting ecosystems and preventing deforestation, which are critical to combatting climate change.[xxxvi] In response to the IPCC report, Indigenous peoples issued several recommendations, including: “The freedom to govern ourselves, leverage our traditional knowledge, and adapt to our changing circumstances is essential to realizing a more sustainable and climate-resilient future —particularly through the leadership of indigenous and community women.”[xxxvii] It’s no secret that Indigenous peoples protect and govern 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and given these close interrelationships, community health and the health of the lands and waters are closely related. Land back is a pathway to climate justice.

A third related point focuses on how acts of resurgence provide openings for settler solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements. As political theorist Michael Elliott points out,

[S]paces of resurgence are structured not on but for the principle of reciprocity. They presuppose Indigenous centricity and authority, and in doing so figure settlers as guests: if they are to remain welcome, settlers are under requirement to adapt their behaviour to meet with conditions of hospitality that they have no say in determining.[xxxviii]

Michael Elliott, “Indigenous Resurgence: The Drive for Renewed Engagement and Reciprocity in the Turn Away from the State” (2018) 51:1 Can J of Political Science 61 at 73.

The process of turning away from the state actually invites settler engagement regarding solidarity movements to address injustices. Amidst discomfort and unease with the current colonial system, settlers’ responses can set the tone for protecting and expanding sites of Indigenous resurgence. This is certainly the case with Wet’suwet’en in 2020, as settlers were asked to help support Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en on the steps of the legislature. Additionally, there was settler support with blockading railways and conveying demands to politicians and policymakers regarding the eviction of the RCMP and CGL from Wet’suwet’en homelands. Ultimately, spaces of resurgence invite settler actions of reciprocity.

A fourth related action stemming from land back and resurgence is the act of witnessing. Rather than being a bystander or observer, witnessing is grounded in action. Kwakwaka’wakw scholar Sarah Hunt discusses how acts of witnessing are important aspects of truth-telling within Indigenous contexts. According to Hunt, witnessing as a methodology “means sometimes creating new language, new stories, new avenues for validating those voices that are most at risk of being erased.”[xxxix]

In order to challenge shape-shifting colonial erasures and calculated deprivations of relationships that maintain Indigenous community and individual health and well-being, truth-telling and witnessing work hand-in-hand to de-naturalize settler violence against Indigenous bodies and Indigenous relationships to their homelands and waterways. As Hunt points out:

Witnessing here is taking up a specific role in maintaining the integrity of Indigenous knowledge and community. It entails not just an obligation to recall but to action, given that violence continues to be normalized.[xl]

Sarah Hunt “Researching Within Relations of Violence: Witnessing as Methodology” in Deborah McGregor, Jean-Paul Restoule & Rochelle Johnston, eds, Indigenous Research: Theories, Practices, and Relationships (Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2018) at 292.

Remembering is a key part of being a witness for change and relational accountability. When Indigenous peoples are out on the land and water, they begin to remember the sources of their strength, whether it is their relationship to water, plants, animals, and other aspects of the natural world. This work provides important insights regarding land back and how we educate future generations about relationships for the perpetuation of our nationhood. It is through our everyday actions that we begin to reclaim, renew and regenerate our connection to lands, waters, and the relationships that promote health and well-being. Land back movements seek the perpetuation of Indigenous laws on Indigenous lands.

[i] Colonel Tatham discusses how Old Tassel’s reply to the U.S. treaty commissioners loses some of its power when translated into English: “…yet it is supposed to have been bereaved of much of its native beauty by the defects of interpretation; for the manly and dignified expression of an Indian orator, loses nearly all of its force and energy in translation.” See “Colonel Tatham,” The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year 1820, vol IV (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1820) at 161–63, online:

[ii] Yoneg or yonega refers more broadly to “white person” but also connotes “foam on the water; moved by wind without its own direction; clings to everything that’s solid.” In other words, yoneg tendencies are to cling to land.

[iii] These negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Long Island of Holsten River on July 20, 1777, which led to a loss of all Overhill Cherokee lands east of the Blue Ridge mountains. Tragically, in June 1788, Kaiyahtehee and two other Cherokee peace chiefs (Hanging Maw & Abram) were assassinated under a flag of truce while in captivity of Colonel John Sevier’s militia near Chilhowee (North Carolina).

[iv] Shiri Pasternak & Hayden King, “Land Back: A Yellowhead Institute Red Paper” (2019) at 17, online (pdf):

[v] NDN, “LANDBACK Manifesto” online:

[vi] Ibid at 21.

[vii] Jeff Corntassel, “Life Beyond the State: Regenerating Indigenous International Relations and Everyday Challenges to Settler Colonialism” Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies [forthcoming in 2021].

[viii] Maia Wikler, “Indigenous Youth Are Rising Up in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en,” (11 February 2020) online: Briarpatch

[ix] Kevin O’Callaghan & Madison Grist, “With DRIPA as Law, What Can We Expect?” (16 December 2019) online: Indigenous Law Bulletin

Only two other countries have passed domestic legislation to implement UNDRIP: Bolivia, which adopted Law No. 3760 in 2007 making UNDRIP part of its domestic law and later made UNDRIP part of its constitution in 2010; and the Republic of Congo, which in 2010 adopted a “Law for the Promotion and Protection of Indigenous Populations, which was heavily inspired by the UNDRIP and substantially reproduces most of the articles of the Declaration.” See Federico Lenzerini, “Implementation of the UNDRIP around the World: Achievements and Future Perspectives” (2019) 23:1-2 Intl JHR 51 at 57.

[x] Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Prevention of Racial Discrimination, Including Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure. Decision 1 (100) (25 November -13 December 2019) online (pdf):

[xi] Horgan also contended that the CGL project had already been approved by Wet’suwet’en elected band council members. However, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have jurisdictional authority on Wet’suwet’wen territories outside of the reserve. This was affirmed in the landmark Delgamuukw case (1997) regarding Indigenous title. According to UBC legal scholars Wood, Christie and Stacey, “The plaintiffs in the landmark Delgamuukw case before the Supreme Court were the hereditary chiefs, not the band councils. The court accepted detailed evidence of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary governance system and confirmed that the Wet’suwet’en never surrendered title to their ancestral lands.” See Stepan Wood, Gordon Christie & Jocelyn Stacey, “Coastal GasLink Pipeline Dispute Is a Nation-to-Nation Matter” (6 February 2020), online: The Conversation _yYqrFOS8m1htahEQU.

[xii] See Mel Woods, “Indigenous Youth Standing with Wet’suwet’en Arrested at B.C. Legislature: ‘It’s Not Over’,” (6 March 2020) online: HuffPost

[xiii] Emily Fagan, “How the Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Actions Changed Their Lives,” (27 January 2021) online: The Tyee

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark, “Criminal Empire: The Making of the Savage in a Lawless Land” (2016) 19:4 Theory & Event 1 at 1.

[xvi] Alex Wilson, “v” (2015) 1:1 J Global Indigeneity at 4. See also Erynne M Gilpin, Land as Body: Indigenous Womxn’s Leadership, Land-Based Wellness and Embodied Governance (PhD Dissertation, University of Victoria School of Indigenous Governance, 2020) [unpublished].

[xvii] Alex Wilson, “Our Coming In Stories: Cree Identity, Body Sovereignty and Gender Self-Determination” (2015) 1:1 J Global Indigeneity 1 at 4. See also Gilpin, supra note 17.

[xviii] Wado to my Cherokee colleagues Ben Frey, David Comingdeer and Chris Teuton for their insights here.

[xix] Clint Carroll, “Cherokee Relationships to Land: Reflections on a Historic Plant Gathering Agreement Between Buffalo National River and the Cherokee Nation” (2020) 36:1 Parks Stewardship Forum 154 at 154 [Carroll, “Cherokee Relationships”].

[xx] Ibid at 154. See also Clint Carroll, “Shaping New Homelands: Environmental Production, Natural Resource Management, and the Dynamics of Indigenous State Practice in the Cherokee Nation” (2014) 61:1 Ethnohistory 124 at 130 [Carroll, “Shaping New”].

[xxi] Carroll, “Cherokee Relationships,” supra note 19 at 155.

[xxii] US, National Park Service, Finding of No Significant Impact PEPC 78896 – Cherokee Plant Gathering Agreement (2019) at 2.

[xxiii] Carroll, “Cherokee Relationships,” supra note 19 at 157.

[xxiv] McGirt v Oklahoma (2020) Supreme Court of the United States. Certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. No. 18–9526

[xxv] Cindy Blackstock, “Reconciliation Means Not Saying Sorry Twice: Lessons from Child Welfare in Canada” in Marlene Brant Castellano,Linda Archibald & Mike DeGagne, eds, From Truth to Reconciliation (Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2008) at 165.

[xxvi] Ibid at 174.

[xxvii] “TRC Findings” (2015) online (pdf):

[xxviii] See Eva Jewell & Ian Moseby, “Calls to Action Accountability: A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation” (2020) at 5, online (pdf): Yellowhead Institute

[xxix] Art Manuel, The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, 2017) at 208.

[xxx] Stark, supra note 15 at 1.

[xxxi] “Schedule ‘N’: Mandate for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission” online (pdf): <;

[xxxii] Arthur Manuel & Ronald Derrickson, The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land Rebuilding the Economy (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Ltd, 2017) at 203.

[xxxiii] For updates see:

[xxxiv] For updates see:

[xxxv] See also Corntassel, supra note 6.

[xxxvi] Alain Frechette, “IPCC Agrees with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change” (8 December 2019) online: Rights + Resources.

[xxxvii] “Indigenous + Community Response to IPCC Report” (2019) online: Rights and Resources Initiative

[xxxviii] Michael Elliott, “Indigenous Resurgence: The Drive for Renewed Engagement and Reciprocity in the Turn Away from the State” (2018) 51:1 Can J of Political Science 61 at 73.

[xxxix] Sarah Hunt “Researching Within Relations of Violence: Witnessing as Methodology” in Deborah McGregor, Jean-Paul Restoule & Rochelle Johnston, eds, Indigenous Research: Theories, Practices, and Relationships (Toronto: Canadian Scholars, 2018) at 284.

[xl] Ibid at 292.