The Laws and the Land (UBC Press) is an illuminating and meticulous study that offers an original framework for adopting ethical approaches to researching Indigenous communities and concepts of land ownership. Locating himself as a white settler scholar in relation to the Kahnawà:ke community, Daniel Rück sought “right relationships” well before embarking on this project about the Kahnawa’kehró:non by consulting with the Kahnawà:ke elder, Tionerahtoken A. Brian Deer. In this book, he uniquely yokes together the study of settlement history and that of Indigenous dispossession to produce new insights. Drawing on Indigenous knowledge, legal documents, and other previously unexamined archival records, he brings attention to the insidious practices of colonial laws and settler approaches toward the land: the result is greater comprehension about the tangible implications of these legal shifts for the Kahnawa’kehró:non to the present moment. In clear and direct prose, Rück analyzes the historical stages of these legal, economic, and socio-political encroachments that have violated a Kahnawà:ke understanding of “shifting boundaries, gendered agricultural norms, and overlapping use rights.” The Laws and the Land challenges and overturns some historical studies that have been particularly blind or oblivious to the importance of gender, especially the centrality of women to the Kahnawa’kehró:non. This precisely detailed micro-history not only raises vital questions about ongoing settler colonial land invasion on a broader scale, but also offers renewed approaches to understanding Indigenous histories, narratives, and practices of land stewardship.


Honourable Mention:

Authored by Daniel Heidt and P. Whitney Lackenbauer, The Joint Arctic Weather Stations: Science and Sovereignty in High Arctic, 1946-1973 draws on an impressive array of archival materials to offer a fascinating account about the collaboration between Canada and the United States and their efforts to establish meteorological stations—while they also negotiated sovereign claims in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Rich in vivid details, painstakingly researched, and well-paced, the narrative portrays a broad sweep of historical figures and key moments involved in conceptualizing—and reconceptualizing—the cooperative effort involved in establishing these stations.


The CSN thanks Linda Morra, Smaro Kamboureli and Patrick Coleman, who served as committee members for this prize.