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Land Back: Indigenous Landscapes of Resurgence and Freedom

Virtual Webinar
April 29  –  June 10, 2021
In this symposium, speakers highlight the many ways Indigenous peoples understand and practice land relations for political resurgence and freedom across the Americas.

Symposiarchs: Michelle Daigle and Heather Dorries, faculty in the Department of Geography & Planning and Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto

Please note, this symposium will be held virtually every two weeks on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. ET: April 29, May 13, May 27, and June 10, 2021.

Awards are available for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Learn more and apply.

Relations to land are a fundamental component of Indigenous worldviews, politics, and identity. The violent disruption of land relations is a defining feature of colonialism and imperialism; colonial governments have territorialized Indigenous lands and bodies and undermined Indigenous political authority through gendered and racialized hierarchies of difference. Consequently, Indigenous resistance and visions for justice and liberation are bound up with land and land-body relationships that challenge colonial power. “Land back” has become a slogan for Indigenous land protectors. Relations to land are foundational to political transformations envisioned and mobilized through Indigenous resurgence praxes. As Leanne Betasamosake Simpson explains, land relations provide a “place-based ethical framework” that enables “process-centered modes of living that generate profoundly different conceptualizations of nationhood and governmentality—ones that aren’t based on enclosure, authoritarian power, and hierarchy” (L. Simpson 2017, 22). In this context, the term land does much heavy lifting. Mishuana Goeman observes that in Indigenous studies “[land] is often conflated to mean landscape, territory, home, or all or some of these simultaneously. . . . Unpacking and thinking about land means to understand the physical and metaphysical in relation to the concepts of place, territory, and home” (Goeman 2015, 72).

In this symposium, we aim to highlight the many ways Indigenous peoples understand and practice land relations for political resurgence and freedom across the Americas, by refusing colonial territorializations of Indigenous land and life-making practices (A. Simpson 2014a). Our intention is to place Indigenous practices of freedom within the particularities of Indigenous place-based laws, cosmologies, and diplomacies, while also taking a hemispheric approach to understanding how Indigeneity is shaped across colonial borders.


  • Olivia Arigho-Stiles, University of Essex, “Landscapes of Struggle: Indigenous-Campesino Discourses on Nature in Bolivia, 1960-1990”
  • Chief Vincent Mann, Ramapough Lunaape Turtle Clan, and Anita Bakshi, Rutgers University: “The Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm: A Ground for Cultural Restoration”
  • Ruth H. Matamoros-Mercado, The University of Texas at Austin, “Anticolonial Landscapes: Land and the Emergence of Miskitu People Territorial Resistance in the Moskitia”
  • Mandee McDonald, University of Alberta, “Bodies, Land and Desire: Hide Tanning Theory”
  • Miguel Melin, Mapuche Territorial Alliance, and Magadelena Ugarte, Ryerson University, “Language, Land, Law: Mapuzugun* as the Basis for Mapuche Land Use Planning”
  • James P. Miller, Western Washington University, “Placemaking as Indigenous Resurgence in the Oceanic Diaspora”
  • Lisa Myers, York University, “Mike MacDonald’s Medicine and Butterfly Gardens as Sites of Contemplation, Relationships and Tensions”
  • Natasha Myhal, University of Colorado Boulder, “Indigenous Ethnobotany in Gichigami: More-Than-Humans as Threatened Species, Resources, and Relatives”
  • Nnenna Odim and Pavithra Vasudevan, The University of Texas at Austin, “Moving with Land: BlackIndigenous Stories of Place”
  • Amrah Salomon J, University of California Riverside, “Decolonize the border: Indigenous Abolitionism and Futurity in Transcolonial Zones”
  • Deondre Smiles, The Ohio State University, “Landscapes of Federal/Tribal Sovereignty in Land Ownership and Cultural Resource Protection”
  • Claire Thomson, University of Alberta, “Mobility as an Expression of Lakota Survivance and Resistance within Lakȟóta Tȟamákȟočhe (Lakota Country) Across Settler State Boundaries, 1876-1920”
  • Sofia Zaragocin, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, “Reexistencias Cimarruna Collective”

Works Cited

Goeman, Mishuana
2015. “Land as Life: Unsettling the Logics of Containment.” In Native Studies Keywords, edited by Stephanie Nohelani Teves, Andrea Smith, and Michelle H. Raheja, 71–89. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Simpson, Audra
2014a. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States. Durham: Duke University Press.

Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake
2017. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Garden River Bridge, Ketegaunseebee, Ontario, Canada. Image courtesy Stan Williams Photography,