Accepted Paper:

Narratives of situated surviving and co-governing across decades are found in James Bay Eeyou stories of starving, deforesting and chancy possibilities for living with the land  


Harvey Feit (McMaster University)

Paper short abstract:

I compare two collections of James Bay Eeyou narratives and proposals to governments, companies and Eeyou youth about possibilities and uncertainties of co-surviving forests, animals, hunters and loggers. The possibilities are embedded with enduring but fragmented experiences of co-governing.

Paper long abstract:

Dialogues with animals and other persons are among the ways that some James Bay Eeyou hunters seek to survive and live well in an emergent world. Similar dialogues are also part of the ways that some Eeyou hunters seek to survive and live in the midst of non-Cree governments' agency and developers' projects. In this paper I compare and contrast two collections of Eeyou narratives. In 1975, in the midst of initial phases of hydro-electric development, hunting families reflected on ways of surviving and told stories of times of starving to youth. In 1999 Eeyou hunting families gave court affidavits seeking changes in forestry company practices in order to renew forests. In related and differing ways these narratives tell stories of seeking and at some important moments engaging in respectful dialogues, practices, relations and mutually recognized if discontinuous co-governance with non-Crees, amidst recurrent destructive logics and practices. Some of these dialogues offer grounded experiences, explanations, and emergent proposals for the co-surviving of forests, animals, hunters and loggers. Some proposals offer unexpected, grounded, specific, yet hard to enable possibilities for futures living on the land. They are hard to envisage both from the land and because of markets. Yet some respected hunters pursue these chancy possibilities even at risk to their lands and future choices. In both earlier and later narratives the relations of hunters, animals, forests, governments and companies raise ever-changing situated uncertainties of survival along with unanticipated possibilities of continuing to live with the land.

Panel WIM-AIM06
Indigenous movement and anthropologists