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At The Edge Of Canada: Indigenous Research

Today our guest is Dakelh Indige­nous sport his­to­ri­an Dr. Allan Downey, Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of His­to­ry and Clas­si­cal Stud­ies at McGill Uni­ver­si­ty. We dis­cuss his new book pub­lished by UBC­Press: The Cre­ator’s Game: Lacrosse, Iden­ti­ty, and Indige­nous Nation­hood. Allan’s book gives us the life­cy­cle of lacrosse in indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties from one end of Tur­tle Island to the oth­er. An ambi­tious project to say the least, as much for how sacred the game is for the Hau­de­nau­sonee peo­ple, but also because of how dif­fi­cult it is to track the projects of set­tler-colo­nial­ism that have dis­rupt­ed, frag­ment­ed, and copor­tized this game from its spir­i­tu­al roots. Yet, Allan not only finds amaz­ing sto­ries about Iro­quian asser­tions of nation­hood and resur­gence, he exe­cutes a deep-dive into Andy Paul’s work in Squamish com­mu­ni­ties while hold­ing the mech­a­nisms of biopo­lit­i­cal pow­er account­able for their use of the sport in res­i­den­tial school and its cor­re­spond­ing effect on Indige­nous ill-health. Allan insists the voic­es of Elders and spir­i­tu­al char­ac­ters into the nar­ra­tive thus mak­ing this book an act of Indige­nous sport his­to­ry that is a clear inside job” so-to-speak. We talk about the con­ver­gence of oral his­to­ry and Indige­nous sport his­to­ry, W.G. Beers and his white set­tler arro­gance, and we dish about the sacred­ness of the lacrosse stick.