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Cree Economic Relationships, Governance, and Critical Indigenous Political Economy in Resistance to Settler-Colonial Logics Open Access


Other title
Indigenous Governance
Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence
Cree people
Indigenous Political Economy
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Jobin, Shalene M C
Supervisor and department
Altamirano-Jiménez, Isabel (Political Science)
Napoleon, Val (Native Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Ladner, Kiera (Political Science)
Donald, Dwayne (Education)
Nichols, Robert (Political Science)
Faculty of Native Studies
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Through Cree narratives that draw on the past, and move into the present, the purpose of this dissertation is to understand and theorize Cree economic relations, practices, and principles. I explore two principle questions: 1) How does neoliberal governance impact Cree relationships? 2) How can principles inherent in Cree economic relationships, drawn from historical sources and oral stories, help guide economic practices today? This research provides a contemporary Plains Cree analysis of “alterNative” (Ladner 2003) economic relations within the Treaty Six geographic space. Colonial domination in settler societies has had and continues to have an insidious impact on the social, political, and economic lives of Indigenous peoples. Each of these spheres, combined, produces an interrelated system of colonial logics. Yet, focusing merely on state domination in settler societies (what I refer to as the first colonial logic) provides a myopic vision of settler-colonial relations and, importantly, ignores an essential part of the broader story: how attempts to resist state domination may further entrench what I call the second colonial logic—economic exploitation. Using a critical Indigenous political economy approach, I examine economic exploitation of the Plains Cree, with a key focus on settler-colonial logics within neoliberal governmentality. I explore this undertheorized phenomenon—the correlation between economic exploitation and mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual conflict for Indigenous peoples—which can result in a settler-colonial–induced dissonance. Specifically, my dissertation makes a case for the Cree to shift away from state recognition towards alternative modes of resistance. Utilizing a Nehiyawak peoplehood method, I draw from oral histories, Cree storytelling, and knowledge holders to provide specific principles and practices found in Cree knowledge systems that speak to Cree economic relationships and resistance to settler-colonial neoliberalism. Principles such as mâmawi-h-itêyihtamowin (thinking about all), manatisowin (civility), and kiskinowâpamewin (learning through observation), as well as practices such as emekinawet (gift-giving) are a few examples. Although made complex through the overarching settler-colonial and specifically neoliberal logics, the contemporary practices of resistance explored are shown to re-engage Nehiyawak peoplehood in both time-honoured and original ways. --- 1 In terms of alternative modes of resistance, I draw from Coulthard’s analysis of Indigenous misreocognition and the need for “transformative praxis” (2007, 456) and “grounded normativity” (2014b, 172). 2 I draw from the substantial work on Indigenous peoplehood (Corntassel 2012; Holm, Pearson, and Chavis 2003; Stratton and Washburn 2008; Robert Thomas 1990).
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
A previous version of chapter four was published in Shalene Jobin, “Cree Peoplehood, International Trade, and Diplomacy,” Revue Générale de Droit Volume 43, no. 2 (2013): 599–636.

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