Strong Hearts, Native Lands
The Cultural and Political Landscape of Anishinaabe Anti-Clearcutting Activism
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Uplifting account of the struggle between the Grassy Narrows First Nation and the Canadian logging industry.
In December 2002 members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation blocked a logging road to impede the movement of timber industry trucks and equipment within their 2,500-square-mile traditional territory. The Grassy Narrows blockade went on to become the longest-standing protest of its type in Canadian history. The story of the blockade is a story of convergences. It takes place where cultural, political, and environmental dimensions of indigenous activism intersect; where history combines with current challenges and future aspirations to inspire direct action. When members of this semiremote northwestern Ontario Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) community took action to protect their land, they did so with the recognition that the fate of the earth and the fate of much more are tightly interwoven. Anna J. Willow demonstrates that indigenous people's decisions to take environmentally protective action cannot be understood apart from motives that Western observers have most often considered political or cultural rather than purely environmental. By recounting how and why one Anishinaabe community was able to take a stand against the industrial logging that threatened their land-based subsistence and way of life, Willow offers a more complex—and more constructive—understanding of human-environment relationships.
Anna J. Willow is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Ohio State University.