Land Back

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2021 • Volume 1 • Issue 2

On the theme of “Land Back,” this issue brings together perspectives from numerous leaders, artists, poets, teachers, and lawyers across Turtle Island, Ayacucho, Tz’oloj Ya’, and Aotearoa. Although Land Back, as a slogan, became popularized in recent years, the sentiments underlying it have existed for centuries. Indeed, the Land Back movement forcefully reminds us that settler nation-states have illegitimate foundations where they fail to reckon with original inhabitants’ rightful claims to land. These foundations prompt the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their homes, lands, and cultures.

With this backdrop, the Land Back movement – and consequently, this issue – focus on reclamation, and specifically, taking back the lands, relationships, and self-determination that were (and continue to be) unjustly taken from Indigenous peoples by colonial entities. The movement focuses on the return of control over lands to Indigenous peoples, on terms they identify. Nothing less. It is about confronting colonial abuse and charting a new, decolonial path. As Jeff Corntassel writes in this issue, “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.”

Land Back is also about stewardship and the protection of our Earth. It is crucial to preserve the ongoing existence of us all. Recent headlines about devastating climate events point to an urgent need to radically transform today’s status quo. Returning land to Indigenous peoples is a crucial part of the solution to our present paradigm of both environmental and self-destruction. In recognizing this, the Land Back movement offers opportunity to reimagine today’s world beyond extractive economies of growth. As Leanne Simpson writes:

Our current world is on fire, warming and melting at an unprecedented rate. The whole world should be standing behind the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their claims, paying attention to the world they are refusing, observing how life behind the blockades renews a different vision, and witnessing the negation, the affirmation, and the generative refusal of blockades.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, A Short History of the Blockade (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2021).

With this in mind, our second issue presents our contributors’ varying and complimentary perspectives on what Land Back means, and on why it is important to engage with, understand, and participate in this process. We hope this issue will contribute to the movement to return land to, and unencumber the jurisdiction of, Indigenous peoples.

Table of Contents

Cover art by Isabelle Zwicker

Mary McPherson, “There Once Was Pride”

Cheryl Maloney, “Reflections on Land Back”

Graeme Reed & Jen Gobby, “Land Back and Climate Action”

Isaac Murdoch, “Land Back”

Kate Gunn, “Recognition and Suppression: Indigenous Laws and Canadian Courts”

Jeff Corntassel, “Indigenous Laws on Indigenous Lands: Land Back as Community Resurgence”

Jordan Abel, “Excerpting Empty Spaces”

Hannah Martin, “Peace, Friendship and Fishing in Mi’kma’ki”

Isadore Day, “Reflections on Land Back”

Isaac Murdoch, “Red Feather Woman”

Jacinta Ruru, “‘We Love Her’: the Lands of Aotearoa”

Lenon Tomás Tutaya de la Cruz, “Quri Urqu”

Laura Morales, “We all are K’iche’s”

Leslie Anne St. Amour, “The Flaw in Conservation as Justification”

Erica Neeganagwedgin, “Reflections on Land Back and Education”

Catalina Londoño Flores, “Land Back en milieu scolaire”

miki tamblyn, “to my settler kin: listen to the people”