This essay is part of an ongoing series reflecting on this summer’s Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI).
By Phil Henderson
On the shores of Lake Mindemoya, Alan Corbiere talked about how Nanabush escaped from the Haudenosaunee by running up the length of the Saugeen/Bruce Peninsula and paddling across Lake Huron to Manitoulin Island. In the local coffee shop that graciously played host to so many of our group’s participants for our week-long stay, Bill Fox provided the archaeological evidence of the extent and intention behind Anishinaabek mobility throughout the vast Great Lakes Basin. In that same space, Anong Beam explained the process of pottery crafting, highlighting the uniqueness and place-based qualities of clays with which she and her family have worked – revitalizing a tradition of Anishinaabek ceramic-work, the very existence of which many have sought to deny. At a campsite near the shores of Providence Bay, laughter and stories moulded new friendships together. And, in the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF), Michael Belmore told us about the conversations occurring between the elements in which he works to produce art that embodies spirit as a way of being.
For myself, I will remember the Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute as a space – or, better, spaces – teeming with relationships, connectivity, and care. First and foremost as modeled by the Anishinaabek peoples who hosted us in their territories, on the island of the manitous; and, in particular, of the generosity that was shown to us by M’Chigeeng First Nation in opening the OCF to us.
Most of all, I appreciate being given the chance to look at the world and at my scholarship in a different light. My own discipline, political science, has a particular penchant for working with – indeed, depending upon – various models of containment. Inside/outside models of sovereignty, discriminative notions of citizenship, and atomistic ideas about identity formation – to name just a few – typify the normative models of thought in contemporary political science. So much so, that they tend to reassert themselves even in works that claim to criticize these models. Continue reading