Historical communities that have held lands in common have, without exception, had strict regulations for using those lands. This was true also in Kahnawá:ke, a Mohawk community near Montreal, where community leaders articulated and enforced customary land laws until the last decades of the nineteenth century. Although a few Mohawks contested these laws in the nineteenth century, the Canadian government undermined, dismantled, and replaced customary land law in the 1870s and 1880s. This article reveals the way the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs exacerbated resource and land shortages in its attempts to undermine Kahnawá:ke leaders, gain control of the land, and ultimately to disperse the community. It describes a chaotic transition from regulated common property to a form of private property under the Indian Act and argues that this transformation was part of a global enclosure movement that continues to this day. Nevertheless, the Canadian government was unable to bring its project to completion, in large part the result of effective resistance offered by Kahnawá:ke Mohawks. The article draws attention to the extraordinary nature of this successful Indigenous resistance to the Canadian state in the late nineteenth century.The full text is here.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Rueck, "Commons, Enclosure, and Resistance in Kahnawá:ke Mohawk Territory, 1850-1900"
Via the Canadian Legal History Blog, we have word of an article of interest in the September 2014 issue of the Canadian Historical Review: "Commons, Enclosure, and Resistance in Kahnawá:ke Mohawk Territory, 1850-1900," by Daniel Rueck (McGill University). Here's the abstract: