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2016 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 497 words || 
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1. Gomoll, Lucian. "Colonial Extractions/Indigenous Actions: A Proposal for Anishinaabe Aking" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, TBA, Denver, Colorado, <Not Available>. 2019-10-14 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1136353_index.html>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: Anishinaabe Aking is what Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe people) call their homeland which spans from what we now call Saskatchewan and North Dakota to Ontario and Michigan. The region, cut in half by the US-Canadian border, is rich with iron, copper, dolomite, limestone, and other valuable resources that are a source of pride for the diverse peoples who live there. The Pictured Rocks, for example, attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year to Munising, Michigan, and drive the local economy. There minerals regularly mix with water in chemical events that produce marvelous multicolored drips that resemble artist brushstrokes on sandstone cliffs, which themselves resemble human profiles and dwellings, along the coast of Gitchi Gummi (Lake Superior). The Pictured Rocks constitute one among many mineralphilic exhibitions throughout Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – a central region of Anishinaabe Aking.

While doing fieldwork I encountered a Pictured Rocks tour guide who claimed that the area’s history began in the 1800s with the first settler family that moved there seeking plentiful timber. He then pointed out which parts of that same forest are now owned by the impressive Cliffs Natural Resources mining corporation of Ohio. His story reiterated a familiar formula: 1) settlers express interest in a local resource; 2) Natives are ignored or portrayed as their guides; 3) settlers claim the land; 4) decades upon decades of exploitation are celebrated as progress. These settler-colonial narrative conventions are also deployed at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee. Its story begins with a panel that depicts a single Native man guiding settlers to iron ore deposits followed by a long, detailed exhibition that commemorates the lives of thousands of miners in detail – their skills, their struggles, their aspirations, their unique cultures – without any further mention of the Anishinaabeg. Similarly, the Marquette Regional Historical Center museum presents an epic story that removes the presence of post-contact Anishinaabeg from its many installations that celebrate how mining has benefitted settler communities.

The first half of this paper examines how state- and corporate-sanctioned exhibitions in Northern Michigan invisibilize the indigenous Anishinaabeg in their own homeland while mining is portrayed as a progressive public good.

The second half of this paper presents and analyzes Anishinaabe-led protests to resource extraction in Wisconsin and Northern Michigan as they have been staged across transmedia platforms. Here I assert that social media, performance interventions, blogs, memes, and online news networks such as Indian Country Today offer alternative means for Anishinaabe collectives to express their relations to the land and local ecologies. The paper lays out a proposal to curate many of these images and stories alongside photos that document the ecological impacts of mining in a counter-exhibition, entitled Colonial Extractions/ Indigenous Actions. The proposal insists on: 1) Anishinaabe contemporaneity and claims to their homeland; and 2) the importance of mounting tailored versions of the exhibition within walking distance of the three settler sites I scrutinize. My paper and proposal strive to be catalysts for community dialogues that might result in better future histories.


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