BLM in Nogojiwanong
This information has been compiled from online resources, from history learned from Trent’s Indigenous Studies courses via Professors David Newhouse, Jenn Cole, Marry Mumford (et al), from talks given by Elders Shirley Williams & Doug Williams, as well as from conversations with Indigenous friends.
We want to be clear, that as settlers in this territory, this is only what we have learned from living here, and that we are in no kind of way experts or knowledge holders about this place. If we truly want to learn about this place and its people, we need to be in good relationships with people from this territory - especially Elders - who have these teachings and want to share them.
It is essential to have Indigenous leadership and organization within BLM, as Black and Indigenous peoples histories are closely intertwined and shared, Afro-Indigenous people are a part of the BLM movement, and also because organizing in someone else’s territory is an extremely political act. We recognize that this is our relationship to organizing on stolen land as settlers. We know that these things are important to the people in this group, so we hope this information is helpful and can begin a greater conversation about moving forward.
Whose Land Are We On?
"Peterborough is the native territory of the Anishinaabeg, a group of Indigenous people, comprised of the Ojibwa, Odawa, Potawatami, Chippewa, Mississauga, Algonquin, and Delaware communities who controlled the Great Lakes Basin since the late 1600s."
"Anishinaabemowin was widely spoken by the Indigenous people in the area before Indigenous languages and cultural practices were replaced by English and Christianity through the residential school system."
(Anishinaabemowin is currently in a stage of revitalization across Turtle Island.)
"Through the treaties and land claims processes, Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, Alderville First Nation, and the Mississaugas of Scugog First Nation have been established in the Peterborough area. These nations refer to themselves officially as Mississaugas."
“Mississaugas” is the settler word for Michi-Saagig or Misi-zaagiing, which is what the Anishinaabeg of Nogojiwanong and other areas in Southern Ontario call themselves.
“Misi-zaagiing, meaning "[Those at the] Great River-mouth."
Where Are We?
Firstly, we are on Turtle Island. Turtle Island is the name of the land that settlers call “North America”. Secondly, we are in Nogojiwanong, which means the place at the foot of the rapids and is the place that settlers call “Peterborough”. Nogojiwanong was (and still is) a gathering place for Indigenous peoples from many nations, because of its connections to the Great Lakes Basin: the river that runs through here, named Odenabe, which I have been told means the river that beats like a heart. This refers to the way the river used to bubble because of the rapids. Settlers refer to the river as “Otonabee”. Settlerism changed the landscape and the waterways in detrimental ways; we built dams and lift-locks and changed the way the river lives, and the way those who live here can have a relationship to it, as well as profoundly impacting the many animals that live on and near the river. We also dumped waste and animal carcases (meat factory) and all other kinds of pollution into the river over the centuries, and we are responsible for its current state.
Irish settlers were some of the first settlers in Nogojiwanong, and with settlement came the organized and calculated murder and displacement of Anishnaabeg living here. The name Peterborough comes from “Peter’s Burrow”, which refers to Peter Robinson who was an Irish government agent in charge of overseeing the settlement in 1825.
Confederation Square in Peterborough is the park in front of City Hall that BLM and many other org’s have held rallies. Before it was a war memorial park, it was a burial ground. What is often completely left out of the history of the square, is that Indigenous people in addition to white people were buried there, and some remains are still there today. It means something to be organizing on top of the bodies of Indigenous people, and I hope this can be part of our ongoing conversation.
Here’s a really gross article about the settlers in Peterborough, a glorified and romanticized account of settlerism (literally nothing about the Nishnaabeg in here.)
What Is A Treaty?
Hiawatha, Curve Lake, Alderville, and the Mississaugas of Scugog First Nations are reservations that are surrounding Peterborough, and they live under Treaty 20 of the Williams Treaties, as do the citizens of Peterborough.
From what we have learned, treaties were used amongst Indigenous nations and tribes of Turtle Island long before European colonization. They were also used between Indigenous nations and tribes and European colonizers. Treaties are relationships between peoples, which those peoples are mutually responsible for upholding, renewing, and changing. The Crown and the government of Canada employed deceit and manipulation when entering into treaty negotiations and agreements with Indigenous peoples in order to colonize, and continue to do so to this day. It is essential that we inform ourselves on Treaty 20.
are the specific rights embodied in the treaties that were entered into with the British government, and later Canada
often address the creation of reserves for the exclusive use of First Nations, and their rights to hunt, fish and trap on provincial Crown lands
are protected by subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982
You will also hear it pronounced phonetically like no-go-jee-wuh-nong. This is very common, and some Indigenous people pronounce it like this as well, but I have been told by people from this territory that the first one is how they say it, so that is how I say it.
Also shortened to Nishnaabe or sometimes just Nish. Anishinaabe is the name of the people, and can be used like: “she is Anishinaabe,” “he is Nish,” “they are Nishnaabe." Anishinaabeg is plural and means the Anishinabe people. It can be used like “the Anishinaabeg of this place.” Anishinaabemowin is the language of the Anishinaabeg, and has different dialects.
Michi-Saagig or Misi-zaagiing [mee-chee-sa-geeg]