Nunda ezhibiigaadegin d’goh biigaadehknown ezhi debaahdedek nungwa manda neebing Mnidoo Mnising Neebing gah Bizh’ezhiwaybuck zhaazhi gonda behbaandih kenjih’gehjik.
This essay is part of an ongoing series reflecting on this summer’s Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI).
By Benjamin J. Kapron
In her book, Pathways for Remembering and Recognizing Indigenous Thought in Education, Sandra Styres writes about how conceptualizations of ‘space’ differ from conceptualizations of ‘place.’
[S]pace is a continuous area or expanse which is free, available, or unoccupied… [whereas place is] a particular position, point, or area in space?a linear and general perspective, particularly as it relates to time… Space, then, is an empty generality; however, place is particular, it is storied, it is experienced (Styres 45-47).
Such a distinction draws attention to the significance of particularity in the 2017 Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute’s (MISHI) guiding question: “does wisdom sit in places?” Instead of an abstract inquiry into relations between location and knowledge, this question called me, and all of MISHI’s participants, to engage with the wisdom that sits in Manitoulin in particular.
Moreover, according to Styres, Indigenous understandings of Land, or Iethi’nihsténha Ohwentsia’kékha in Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), go even deeper than understandings of place:
Iethi’nihsténha Ohwentsia’kékha embodies principles, philosophies, and ontologies that transcend the material construct of place. With this understanding in mind, Land is spiritual, emotional, and relational; Land is experiential; Land is conscious?Land is a fundamental living being (47; Styres’ italics).
Such understandings of Land call for more deeply developed relations with Manitoulin, likely deeper than would be possible over the one week of MISHI, though perhaps MISHI might serve as a starting place for prefiguring processes for engaging with Land, building relations with Land, and learning with Land. Continue reading