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Reviewed by:
  • Lines Drawn upon the Water: First Nations and the Great Lakes Borders and Borderlands
  • Heidi Bohaker (bio)
Karl S. Hele , editor. Lines Drawn upon the Water: First Nations and the Great Lakes Borders and Borderlands. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 2008. 378. $85.00

This book and the twelve essays it contains grew out of a workshop in 2005 organized by Karl Hele, now associate professor of First Peoples Studies at Concordia University. Hele is also a member of Garden River First Nation on the Canadian side of the border near Sault Ste Marie. In Lines Drawn upon the Water, Hele and his contributors draw attention to an oft-ignored reality in both Canadian and US historiography: the Great Lakes region as a borderland, as worthy of study and as complex as others more well known. In common with other volumes that grow out of conference proceedings, this often-fascinating collection of essays is diverse in its topics and approaches. Some chapters explicitly discuss the impact on First Nations peoples that resulted from the border created between the new United States of America and British North America, other authors explore, as Hele says, 'metaphysical and epistemological borderlands.' The decision to group the chapters thematically puts two essays on nineteenth-century experiences before a study situated in the seventeenth. The chapters also are more heavily weighted to historical experiences on the northern shores of the Great Lakes. Overall though, the collection works; the essays do resonate with one another, if sometimes circuitously.

The volume begins with two pan-region studies: Edmund J. Danziger's survey of Indigenous responses to nineteenth-century Canadian and American government policies, and Phil Belfy's discussion of Anishinaabe leaders who signed treaties on both sides of the British North America / US border in the aftermath of the American Revolution. The essays then turn to studies of specific communities at particular moments in time: Mark Meuwese on the seventeenth-century struggle [End Page 310] for Mohawk independence between the growing colonies of France and Britain, two essays on the nineteenth-century Sault Ste Marie borderlands (Hele's own discussion of how Anishinaabeg and Metis peoples often thwarted colonial officials attempts to enforce the border, and Alan Knight and Janet Chute's rich and thoughtful discussion of the complex Metis community there), and David T. McNab's piece on the Walpole Island region, illuminating the life of Anishinaabe and Methodist minister Ezhaaswe (William A. Elias, 1856-1929) through Elias's recently recovered journals.

The remainder of the collection consists of articles that play with the definition of 'border.' Chapters 7 and 8 focus specifically on histories of the Baldoon settlement, an early-nineteenth-century 'planned community' in southwestern Ontario of colonists recruited from the Scottish highlands to form a bulwark against American encroachment. Lisa Phillips and Allan K. McDougall tease out the differing cultural explanations for a series of mysterious phenomena (such as flying stones) that occurred to one of the Baldoon settlers, while Rick Fehr considers the environmental damage that resulted from settler practices.

Catherine Murton Stoehr's chapter demonstrates that the early- and mid-nineteenth-century conversions by Anishinaabe in southern Ontario to Methodism must be understood in their complete cross-border and historic contexts. Stoehr situates these later conversions as part of a complex Indigenous nativist response she links to earlier movements led by Neolin and Tenskwatawa. Michelle A. Hamilton's essay on the Six Nations of the Grand River from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century deals implicitly with the concept of hybridity. She examines 'cultural brokers' such as Pauline Johnson and John Brant-Sero as they interacted with anthropologists interested in collecting Six Nations material culture. In the penultimate chapter Norman Shields provides a nuanced exploration of the complex debates from 1870 to 1936 within the Grand General Indian Council of Ontario concerning Indian status legislation. Shields reveals that leaders had a sophisticated understanding of the impact the legislation would have on their membership and band resources. And in the final chapter, 'This is a pipe and I know hash,' Ute Lischke brings the collection to the present day with her discussion of the border as a prominent theme in...


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pp. 310-311
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