Strong Hearts, Native Lands

The Cultural and Political Landscape of Anishinaabe Anti-Clearcutting Activism

By Anna J. Willow

Subjects: Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, Environmental Politics
Series: SUNY series, Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building
Paperback : 9781438442020, 266 pages, July 2012
Hardcover : 9781438442037, 266 pages, June 2012

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Table of contents

1. Anishinaabe Cultural History and Land-Based Subsistence
2. From Aboriginal Policy to Indigenous Empowerment
3. A World Transformed
The Grassy Narrows Blockade
4. Beginnings
5. The Blockade
6. Blockade Life
7. Negotiations and Networks
8. Beyond the Blockade
Conclusion: The Blockade Is Still There

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.