The Laws and the Land
The Settler Colonial Invasion of Kahnawà:ke in Nineteenth-Century Canada

By Daniel Rück

As the settler state of Canada expanded into Indigenous lands, settlers dispossessed Indigenous people and undermined their sovereignty as nations. One site of invasion was Kahnawà:ke, a Kanien’kehá:ka community and part of the Rotinonhsiónni confederacy.

The Laws and the Land delineates the establishment of a settler colonial relationship from early contact ways of sharing land; land practices under Kahnawà:ke law; the establishment of modern Kahnawà:ke in the context of French imperial claims; intensifying colonial invasions under British rule; and ultimately the Canadian invasion in the guise of the Indian Act, private property, and coercive pressure to assimilate. Daniel Rück reveals increasingly powerful and aggressive colonial governments interfering with the affairs of one of the most populous and influential Indigenous communities in nineteenth-century Canada. What he describes is an invasion spearheaded by bureaucrats, Indian agents, politicians, surveyors, and entrepreneurs. Although these invasions were often chaotic and poorly planned, Rück shows that despite their apparent weaknesses they tended to benefit settlers while becoming sources of oppression for Indigenous peoples who attempted to navigate colonial realities while defending and building their own nations.

This original, meticulously researched book is deeply connected to larger issues of human relations with environments, communal and individual ways of relating to land, legal pluralism, historical racism and inequality, and Indigenous resurgence. It is one story of the “slow violence” of Canada’s legal and environmental conquest of Indigenous peoples and lands, and the persistence of one Indigenous nation in the face of the onslaught.

This book will appeal to legal historians, historical geographers, and scholars of Quebec history, Canadian history, and Indigenous studies.

https://www.ubcpress.ca/the-laws-and-the-land