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In the Footprints of Our Ancestors: Exploring the Reconnection to my Cree Ancestors (aniskotapanak) and Ancestral Land in the Lesser Slave Lake area Open Access


Other title
marginalization of Cree people in the Lesser Slave Lake area
Indigenous narrative
Indigenous research methodology
Indigenous ways of knowing
disconnection to Indigenous language
dispossession of land
ancestral land
Indigenous voices from Lesser Slave Lake
oppression of Indigenous people
Cree identity
Cree genealogy
Cree descendant identities
marginalization of Indigenous people
Indigenous research framework
ancestral relationships
Lesser Slave Lake Indigenous ancestral land
ancestral knowledge
marginalization of Cree people
contextualizing lived experiences of Indigenous ancestors
Indigenous voices
Indigenous auto-ethnography
Indigenous people and land
archival research
Indigenous knowledge in the Lesser Slave Lake area
silencing Indigenous voices
validating Indigenous history
invisibility of Indigenous people
Cree narrative
state-imposed political identities of Indigenous people in Canada
Cree ancestry
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Sinclair, Jeannette R
Supervisor and department
Weber-Pillwax, Cora (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Cameron, Brenda (Faculty of Nursing)
Steinhauer, Evelyn (Educational Policy Studies)
Hampton, Eber (University of Regina)
Kenny, Carolyn (Antioch University)
Crier, John, (Elder, Samson Cree Nation)
Sockbeson, Rebecca (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Indigenous Peoples Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract This work reveals the relationship between Indigenous people and land, and then speaks to the place for ancestors and Indigenous knowledge in this relationship. It engages with Indigenous Research Methodology that honours Indigenous ways of knowing and being, drawing on the lived experiences of Indigenous people from the Lesser Slave Lake area and giving meaning and voice to the lives of the people. This study addresses the marginalization of the people, their dispossession of land, and the disconnection to Indigenous language and culture that occurred as a result of oppression, colonization, and subjugation of their traditional territories, knowledge, history and identities. The work examines the relationship that connects Indigenous Cree identity with the sense of belonging that is essential to Indigenous ways of knowing. This work draws on ancestral relationships of the past, reclaiming and validating Indigenous history and descendant identities in significant ways that will impact future generations. This qualitative study draws on mixed methods of Indigenous autoethnography utilizing knowledge of the researcher’s family as the foundation of the work, somewhat like a ‘case’ study, and weaving in narrative, expository and analytical writing. The work addresses the near invisibility of Indigenous presence in historical literature pertaining to the Lesser Slave Lake area, and seeks to create another, deeper, level of understanding of community knowledge and local experiences. Ancestry is explored in a way that brings edification in a community, contextualizing the lived experiences of Indigenous ancestors into contemporary times, and addressing the legacy of state-imposed political identities that continues to impact Indigenous people in Canada today. The significant engagement with genealogical and archival data in the study is supplemented with narratives of Indigenous voices from the community. The effect of this twinning of data brings the ancestors out of the shadows, and creates a bridge of reconnection for them with the ‘re searcher’ and the contemporary ‘re searched’. This work speaks to the legacy of pain that Indigenous people carry as a result of colonization, oppression, marginalization, and silencing. Further, it speaks to the challenges of accessing archival and genealogical data, of the unreliability of genealogical evidence, and of the need for validation and mobilization of Indigenous knowledge systems in support of the efforts to make visible that essential Indigenous vitality that has been hidden.  
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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