Nenabozho goes fishing: A sovereignty story

Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark, Kekek Jason Stark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In this essay, we present a brief genealogy of sovereignty, outlining debates about the term itself as well as the challenging legal terrain facing Indigenous nations’ assertions of sovereignty today. We draw on the experiences of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Bands of Ojibwe for examples of how sovereignty has been debated and defined, from treaty-making practices establishing a political relationship with the United States to subsequent struggles for recognition of Ojibwe sovereign authority accorded in those same treaties. We find that the courts and Congress have oscillated between protecting and diminishing Indigenous nations’ ability to exercise sovereignty. We argue for a return to the relational paradigm used by the Ojibwe in their treaty-making as a remedy for the damage done by the courts and by Congress. Rather than a rights-based approach to sovereignty, a relational paradigm foregrounds responsibilities to one another and to creation, which sustains us all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


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