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Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life beyond Settler Colonialism

Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life beyond Settler Colonialism

Joseph Weiss

UBC Press, 2019

Colonialism in settler societies such as Canada depends on a certain understanding of the relationship between time and Indigenous peoples. Too often, these peoples have been portrayed as being without a future, destined either to disappear or assimilate into settler society. This book asserts quite the opposite: Indigenous peoples are not in any sense “out of time” in our contemporary world.

Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii shows how Indigenous peoples in Canada not only continue to have a future but are at work building many different futures – for themselves and for their non-Indigenous neighbours. Through the experiences of the residents of the Haida First Nation community of Old Massett on the islands of Haida Gwaii, Joseph Weiss explores these possible futures in detail, demonstrating how Haida ways of thinking about time, mobility, and political leadership are at the heart of contemporary strategies for addressing the dilemmas that come with life under settler colonialism.

From the threat of ecological crisis to the assertion of sovereign rights and authority, Weiss shows that the Haida people consistently turn towards their possible futures, desirable and undesirable, in order to work out how to live in and transform the present. His book breaks new ground in the exploration of the relationship between time and colonialism as experienced in the day-to-day lives of an Indigenous community.

This book will appeal to scholars and students of Indigenous studies, particularly in anthropology, ethnography, sociology, and history. Researchers planning to work with communities will learn from the author’s reflections on conducting ethnographic fieldwork with First Nations.

Table of contents

Part 1: Pasts and Futures

1 An Introduction to Haida Future-Making in Old Massett

2 The Everyday Temporalities of Life on Haida Gwaii

Part 2: Home

3 Coming Home to Haida Gwaii: Haida Departures and Returns in the Future Perfect

4 Of Hippies and Haida: Fantasy, Future-Making, and the Allure of Haida Gwaii

Part 3: Care

5 Leading “from the Bottom of the Pole”: Care and Governance in the Haida World

6 Precarious Authority: Endangerment and the Political Promise to Protect Haida Gwaii

Conclusion: Unsettling Futures

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