Editors, The Canadian Historical Review
As editors of the Canadian Historical Review, we organize an occasional feature designed to provide the Canadian historical community with multiple perspectives on particular issues, events, and topics in Canadian history and historiography, called “Historical Perspectives.” There are few more important issues facing Canadian society, or more vibrant areas of historical scholarship, than those relating to Indigenous Peoples. Political, legal, demographic and social forces have brought these matters to the forefront of public life and this forum appears at a crucial moment, between the release of the 2015 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the establishment of a commission on missing and murdered Indigenous women.
We feel it is therefore appropriate that this issue’s “Historical Perspectives” focuses on Indigenous historical assessment and thought. The editors of the CHR therefore approached a selection of leading Indigenous scholars with the request that they each contribute an essay discussing a field of Indigenous history or historiography of their choice with the aim of informing both teaching and general audience. Four accepted this invitation, and the result is a collection of very diverse articles that reflect the breadth and depth of scholarship of a wide range of fields in Indigenous historical studies.
As such, the intent of “Historical Perspectives” is not to provide a comprehensive overview of the dynamic field of Indigenous history, but rather to offer some entry points to the vital and rapidly expanding broader scholarly field, and to use this format to launch a conversation about contemporary historiography and issues in Indigenous history and potential future directions. Many important subfields have not been included, as each of our authors proposed several important potential directions in which to follow. In the end, they had to choose one. [End Page 60]
In this ‘Historical Perspectives’ contribution, we bring together a historical geographer, a legal scholar, and two historians. The result is unsurprisingly, yet importantly, interdisciplinary. The four short pieces examine Indigenous epistemologies through a focus on space, the environment, health, and an exploration of legal thought and jurisprudence relating to Aboriginal rights. This final piece deals less with historiographical issues but reflects the extraordinary importance of courts in shaping relations. The authors are all united in calling for a paradigm shift. Indigenous peoples living in the northern half of North America are not simply subjects for scholars to draw upon in order to improve or diversify the colonial narrative. Rather, coming to terms with and understanding Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding history and the world are essential to present and future dialogue.
The editors would as well like to note that this installation of “Historical Perspectives” sits among the very few pages of the CHR authored by Indigenous people; Brenda MacDougall’s “Wahkootowin: Family and Cultural Identity in Northwestern Saskatchewan Métis Communities,” Canadian Historical Review vol. 87, no. 3 (September 2006): 431–462 is likely the only previous article to have been published in the CHR by a self-identified indigenous person in this journal’s 97-year history. Thus, these essays also reflect our responsibilities as editors of the CHR and as professional historians to acknowledge the boundaries that have excluded Indigenous scholars from the field of Canadian history and to make space for, disseminate, and engage with contemporary critical Indigenous historical scholarship in Canada. This forum is very late in coming, but we hope the journal’s readers will nonetheless find it helpful in their own research and teaching.
Directeurs, The Canadian Historical Review
La rédaction de la Canadian Historical Review publie à l’occasion un numéro spécial appelé « Perspectives historiques » qui vise à fournir aux canadianistes de multiples perspectives sur des enjeux, des événements et des sujets particuliers en histoire et en historiographie canadiennes. Il n’existe guère de sujets plus importants pour la société [End Page 61] canadienne, ou de secteurs plus dynamiques en recherche historique, que ceux ayant trait aux peuples autochtones. Les forces politiques, juridiques, démographiques...