Decolonizing Water Conference Travel Proposal

Dates:
 
April , 2019, Washington, DC (includes travel days of April 2 and April 8)
 
Conference:
 
American Association of Geographers, April 3 – 7, 2019
 
Abstract submitted to the Visual Methods panel:
 
Telling the Story of Water: Photovoice for Water Research with Urban Indigenous Youth
Joanne Nelson, Tsimshian, PhD student, UBC, Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Most Indigenous cultures express a sacred connection to water and these connections to water are reflected in Indigenous legal systems and oral traditions. While the ongoing impacts of colonialism and capitalism have threatened this connection, participatory photography and visual methods, such as Photovoice, emerge as a promising methodology to engage Indigenous youth in telling their stories of how they connect with, perceive, and experience water and water issues in their lives. Indigenous people, including youth, are increasingly making their homes in urban areas.  According to the 2016 Canadian census the 867,415 Indigenous people living in a metropolitan area now represent over half (51.8%) of the total Indigenous population: an increase of 59% between 2006 and 2016. Yet, the voice of urban Indigenous people has been largely absent from the growing literature on Indigenous water governance, water stewardship, and Indigenous Knowledge. In this presentation, I will provide a brief literature review on Photovoice and engage with case studies from within that literature that use this visual method with youth and Indigenous communities to understand how the various researchers have sought to Indigenize the Photovoice methodology. I end with an introduction to my proposed research on the relationships between urban Indigenous youth of the Unceded Coast Salish territory of Metro Vancouver have with water. This work aims to understand these relationships and queries how Indigenous Knowledge arising in this context can and does informs Indigenous water stewardship and water governance.
Keywords: Photovoice, visual methods, Indigenous, Indigenous youth, urban Indigenous, water governance, water stewardship, Indigenous Knowledge
Budget:
Item
Cost
Coach airfare YVR to IAD return
$500.00
Shared accommodation in Washington
$500.00
Per Diem: Lunch and dinner April 02, full meals April 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, breakfast and lunch April 08 = $376 USD x 1.3037 exchange rate[1]
$490.00
Conference registration fee
$260.00
Transportation to/from airport
$60.00
Total
$1810.00

 

Telling the Story of Water: Photovoice for Water Research with Urban Indigenous Youth.

Conference:

American Association of Geographers Conference, April 10th, 2019.

Presented By:

Joanne Nelson, Tsimshian, PhD student, UBC, Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

 

Abstract:

Most Indigenous cultures express a sacred connection to water and these connections to water are reflected in Indigenous legal systems and oral traditions. While the ongoing impacts of colonialism and capitalism have threatened this connection, participatory photography and visual methods, such as Photovoice, emerge as a promising methodology to engage Indigenous youth in telling their stories of how they connect with, perceive, and experience water and water issues in their lives. Indigenous people, including youth, are increasingly making their homes in urban areas.  According to the 2016 Canadian census the 867,415 Indigenous people living in a metropolitan area now represent over half (51.8%) of the total Indigenous population: an increase of 59% between 2006 and 2016. Yet, the voice of urban Indigenous people has been largely absent from the growing literature on Indigenous water governance, water stewardship, and Indigenous Knowledge. In this presentation, I will provide a brief literature review on Photovoice and engage with case studies from within that literature that use this visual method with youth and Indigenous communities to understand how the various researchers have sought to Indigenize the Photovoice methodology. I end with an introduction to my proposed research on the relationships between urban Indigenous youth of the Unceded Coast Salish territory of Metro Vancouver have with water. This work aims to understand these relationships and queries how Indigenous Knowledge arising in this context can and does informs Indigenous water stewardship and water governance.

Data quality from a community-based, water quality monitoring project in the Yukon river basin.

By Nicole Herman-Mercer, Ronald Antweiler, Nicole Wilson, Edda Mutter, Ryan Toohey, Paul Schuster

Abstract:

This paper examines the quality of data collected by the Indigenous Observation Network, a community-based water-quality project in the Yukon River Basin of Alaska and Canada. The Indigenous Observation Network relies on community technicians to collect surface-water samples from as many as fifty locations to achieve their goals of monitoring the quality of the Yukon River and major tributaries in the basin and maintaining a long-term record of baseline data against which future changes can be measured. This paper addresses concerns about the accuracy, precision, and reliability of data collected by non-professionals. The Indigenous Observation Network data are examined in the context of a standard data life cycle: plan, collect, assure, and describe; as compared to professional scientific activities. Field and laboratory protocols and procedures of the Indigenous Observation Network are compared to those utilized by professional scientists. The data of the Indigenous Observation Network are statistically compared to those collected by professional scientists through a retrospective analysis of a set of water-quality parameters reported by all three projects over a number of years. No statistical differences were found among the three projects for pH, Calcium, Magnesium, or Alkalinity, although statistically significant differences were found for Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate, and Potassium concentrations. The statistical differences found were small and likely not significant in terms of interpreting the data for a variety of uses. Our results suggest that Indigenous Observation Network data are of high quality, and with consistent protocols and participant training, community based monitoring projects can collect data that are accurate, precise, and reliable.

Click here to access full text online

 

Resurging through Kishiichiwan.

By Michelle Daigle

Abstract:

In this paper, I center Indigenous water governance at the nexus of extractive capitalist development, water contamination and dispossession, and Indigenous self-determination. I do so by focusing on colonial capitalist legacies and continuities that are unfolding on Mushkegowuk lands of what is otherwise known as the Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario, Canada. Through a spatial analysis, I trace contemporary forms of water dispossession through mining extraction to the larger colonial-capitalist objectives of the original signing of the James Bay, or Treaty 9, agreement. I argue that the colonial capitalist dispossession of water, through the seizing of land and interconnected waterways, and through the accumulation of pollution and contamination, is inextricably linked to larger structural objectives of securing access to Mushkegowuk lands for capitalist accumulation, while simultaneously dispossessing Mushkegowuk peoples of the sources of their political and legal orders. I end by discussing how Mushkegowuk peoples are resurging against settler colonial and capitalist regimes by regenerating their water relations, and how water itself cultivates a particularly spatial form of resurgence that regenerates Indigenous kinship relations and governance practices.

Click here to access full text online

We have stories.

By Rosemary Georgeson, and Jessica Hallenbeck

Abstract:

This paper traces the changing relationship between family, water, and fish through the lives of five generations of Indigenous women. We reveal the ways that Indigenous women’s connections have transformed and persisted despite generations of omissions and erasures. We juxtapose interviews, academic research, and the settler colonial archive with the lived experiences and histories that exceed it. Weaving together what we know of the lives of Rosemary’s great great grandmother Sar-Augh-Ta-Naogh (Sophie) and great grandmother Tlahoholt (Emma) with stories of water and fish from their territories, we ask how settler colonial commissions, archives, and urban policies have sought, and failed, to control and erase Indigenous women’s relationships to water, land, and family. Crucially, this article draws on stories that have been passed down to Rosemary and knowledge that she has accumulated through her lifetime working as a commercial fisherman. These stories about water and where people were from, why they left, or why they never went back—and how they continue to be connected to each other while being disconnected from place—are at the center of this article. Re-presencing Indigenous women and these connections raises essential questions about Indigenous resurgence in a context of settler colonial control, scarcity, and disappearance, emphasizing the importance of ancestral reconnection to Indigenous futurities.

Click here to access full text online

Respecting water: Indigenous water governance, ontologies, and the politics of kinship on the ground.

By Nicole Wilson, and Jody Inkster

Abstract:

Indigenous peoples often view water as a living entity or a relative, to which they have a sacred responsibility. Such a perspective frequently conflicts with settler societies’ view of water as a “resource” that can be owned, managed, and exploited. Although rarely articulated explicitly, water conflicts are rooted in ontological differences between Indigenous and settler views of water. Furthermore, the unequal water governance landscape created by settler colonialism has perpetuated the suppression of Indigenous ways of conceptualizing water. This paper thus examines the “political ontology” of water by drawing on insights from the fields of critical Indigenous studies, post-humanism, and water governance. Additionally, we engage a case study of four Yukon First Nations (Carcross/Tagish, Kluane, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and White River First Nations) in the Canadian North to examine their water ontologies through the lens of a politics of kinship including ideas about “respecting water.” We also examine the assumptions of settler-colonial water governance in the territory, shaped by modern land claims and self-government agreements. We close by discussing the implications of Indigenous water ontologies for alternate modes of governing water.

Linking community-based monitoring to water policy: perceptions of citizen scientists.

By Tyler Carlson, and Alice Cohen

Abstract:

This paper examines the relationships between Community-Based Water Monitoring (CBM) and government-led water initiatives. Drawing on a cross-Canada survey of over one hundred organizations, we explore the reasons why communities undertake CBM, the monitoring protocols they follow, and the extent to which CBM program members feel their findings are incorporated into formal (i.e., government-led) decision-making processes. Our results indicate that despite following standardized and credible monitoring protocols, fewer than half of CBM organizations report that their data is being used to inform water policy at any level of government. Moreover, respondents report higher rates of cooperation and data-sharing between CBM organizations themselves than between CBM organizations and their respective governments. These findings are significant, because many governments continue to express support for CBM. We explore the barriers between CBM data collection and government policy, and suggest that structural barriers include lack of multi-year funding, inconsistent protocols, and poor communication. More broadly, we argue that the distinction between formal and informal programming is unclear, and that addressing known CBM challenges will rely on a change in perception: CBM cannot simply be a less expensive alternative to government-driven data collection.

Click here to access full text online

 

Native Water Protection Flows Through Self-Determination: Understanding Tribal Water Quality Standards and “Treatment as a State.”

By Sibyl Diver

Abstract:

For Indigenous communities, protecting traditional lands and waters is of the utmost importance. In the U.S. context, scholars have documented an unfortunate neglect of water quality on tribal lands. Treatment as a State (TAS) provisions, adopted in the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act, and tribal Water Quality Standards (WQSs) programs are intended to address such problems. Importantly, tribal WQSs may be more stringent than neighboring state standards, and can be used to influence pollution levels coming from upstream, off‐reservation users. Tribes can also develop WQSs that support unique tribal values, including ceremonial and cultural uses of native waters. Yet scholarly debates question whether tribal environmental self‐determination strategies can fully succeed within dominant regulatory structures. Based on a synthesis of the published literature, this article examines tribal WQSs as a case of tribal environmental self‐determination. The author discusses how U.S. tribes pursue WQSs under TAS, program outcomes, and why so few tribes have established WQSs to date. Because most scholarship was found within the legal literature, the author focuses on the legal and political outcomes that arise from tribal WQSs, and analyzes specific opportunities and constraints for program participants. The author also considers how some tribes use WQSs as a “third space” strategy—simultaneously working inside and outside of dominant government structures to advance tribal sovereignty (Bruyneel 2007). Additional research is needed to understand the diversity of tribal environmental self‐determination strategies that occur through federal regulatory frameworks and under tribal law.

Click here to access full text online

Community-Based Monitoring as the practice of Indigenous governance: A case study of Indigenous-led water quality monitoring in the Yukon River Basin.

By Nicole Wilson, Edda Mutter, Jody Inkster, and Terre Satterfield

Abstract:

Indigenous peoples are increasingly developing Community-Based Monitoring programs to protect the waters and lands within their territories in response to multiple ecological and political stressors. Furthermore, CBM tends to focus on Indigenous peoples’ role as ‘knowledge holders.’ This paper explores CBM through a governance lens by understanding CBM as a strategy for the assertion of Indigenous sovereignty and jurisdiction. Research findings revealed that CBM is understood as both a method for generating data useful for decision-making and an expression of governance itself, rooted in understandings of stewardship, kinship and responsibility. Our findings also suggest that data quality and credibility, trust and legitimacy and relevance to decision contexts are key to mobilizing CBM data in relevant decision-making processes. We provide three recommendations to improve linkages between CBM programs and Indigenous governance: Indigenous governments must take a leading role in CBM programs; networked capacity between Indigenous governments can be built using a bridging organization; and CBM programs should be closely coupled with Indigenous environmental governance strategies. All research herein is collaborative and is based on our engagement with the Indigenous Observation Network – an Indigenous-led community-based water quality monitoring network involving Yukon and BC First Nations as well as Alaska Native Tribes. It is considered the largest Indigenous water quality network in the world and is coordinated by the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council and the United States Geological Survey. Results are derived from interviews with twenty samplers and ten other stakeholders with attention to ways to better inform internal and external decision-making processes.

Click here to access full text online