Indigenous Peoples Knowledges and Rights Commission of the International Geographic Union

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Annual Meeting
Association of American Geographers,
April 5th-9th , 2017 in Boston

1. John & Bev Passerello Indigenous Peoples Travel Scholarship

2. IPSG Graduate Student Paper Competition

The John & Bev Passerello Indigenous Peoples Travel Scholarship

$300 Travel Grants to Attend the 2017 AAG Annual Meeting in Boston, MA April 5th-9th

Application Deadline: February 10, 2017

The Travel Scholarship creates opportunities for Native graduate, undergraduate students and community members to attend the AAG that in turn increases diversity in our discipline and brings Indigenous voices forward. The unique geographical knowledges, perspectives and contributions of Native students and community members enriches the AAG and the IPSG as it enhances the conversations and debates held by geographers.

Award: One travel award is available in the amount of $300. In addition to the cash grant, the Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group will pay for a one-year AAG student membership for student recipients.

Eligibility: Be a Native American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Native Alaskan graduate or undergraduate students or community members within the Western Hemisphere are eligible to apply for the Indigenous Peoples’ Travel Scholarship.

Submission Requirements: Applicants must send the following two documents.

  1. A one page (250 word) statement describing the applicant’s Indigenous/Native background, including their interests in geographically-oriented Indigenous issues. Students must indicate whether they are undergraduate or graduate students. Graduate students must indicate the title of the paper they will present at the 2017 AAG; and,
  2. A letter of support from a tribal leader, OR a faculty member, OR IPSG member.

Other Requirements:

  1. The award must be used towards travel, accommodation, and/or registration expenses associated with attending the AAG meeting.
  2. Applicants must attend both the Boston AAG meeting AND the IPSG business meeting to receive their award.
  3. Graduate students must register and present a paper or poster to the conference to receive their award. Undergraduates and community members are encouraged to present or co-present, but it is not required.

A committee of the IPSG Board will evaluate applications. Please send electronic applications (preferably as a Word or pdf file) to:

Katrina McClure
IPSG Secretary

2017 Indigenous Peoples Specialty Groupp
Graduate Student Paper Competition
2017 AAG in Boston, MA

The Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group (IPSG) invites submissions for its annual Graduate Student Paper Competition in conjunction with the 2017 AAG general meeting, April 5th-9th. We invite graduate student papers addressing Indigenous critical cartography, geographic research, education, methodologies, and/or theory. Special consideration will be given to papers that:

Foster geographic research and education that involves the Indigenous peoples of the world, past and present
Prioritize Indigenous people(s)’ perspectives, voices, and epistemologies

Encourage approaches to research and teaching that support Indigenous goals of self-determination

Help build relationships of mutual trust between Indigenous communities and academic geographers

Contribute to decolonizing the discipline and practice of Geography

The award for the top student paper includes a cash award of US $150.00 and a one-year honorary student membership in the IPSG. Eligible papers for this competition must conform to the following guidelines:

  • Paper must be written manuscripts.
  • Manuscripts sole-authored by a graduate student are preferred. However, manuscripts co-authored in collaboration with a person/people at the community- scale will also be considered. Papers co-authored with a faculty member will not be considered.
  • The paper needs to be presented at either the AAG annual meeting in San Francisco or any regional geography meeting or another professional conference.
  • Papers should be no longer than 3,000 words in length (the length limitations may mean that the applicant is submitting the “presentation” version, rather than the “publication” version of the paper).
  • Papers should be in English, with translation provided for any quotes or sections in a language other than English.

Papers will be evaluated by IPSG board members, which include both faculty members and graduate students. The committee reserves the right not to award a prize if submissions are not of sufficient quality.

Interested students should submit a copy of their conference paper electronically by midnight, Monday, March 10, 2017 to IPSG Secretary, Katrina McClure at trina.mcclure@ku.edu. Please put "IPSG Student Paper Submission" in the subject line. Any questions about the competition can also be directed to Katrina.

Thanks and good luck!​

Winning Papers

2010 Winner: Marcela A. Palomino-Schalscha, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

"Indigenizing Development in the Queuco Valley, Alto Bio Bio, Chile Island"

Struggles over territories and natural resources are usually linked to issues around culture and development. This is particularly the case for indigenous peoples, who often find themselves in complex and contradictory situations.

In Chile, the application of neoliberal policies since the 1970’s, has had significant consequences for Mapuche people, the largest indigenous group in Chile. They have a long history of ongoing struggles, and in the last decades have been faced with new and deep forms of marginalization, dispossession and, more recently, the criminalizatiorn of their demands.

For Mapuche, as for many other indigenous peoples, land, territory and place have been key issues in their survival and resistance. This paper explores the ways in which the struggles over self-determination and recognition are related to meanings of place, environmental knowledges and identity. 

From a decolonizing and postdevelopment perspective, and using ethnographic and Action Research tools, this study looks at the experience of four Mapuche-Pewenche communities from the Queuco Valley. It aims to examine the discourses and practices they are constructing around their territories and place, in a process that is understood as an attempt to “indigenize development”.

2009 Winner: Laurie Richmond, University of Minnesota

"Fishscapes and Power: Place-making and Alaska Native resistance in the Pacific halibut fishery on Kodiak Island"

Much research exploring the colonial spatial strategies of indigenous control and resistance examine the ways that territory has been expressed and denied over land. This paper examines on the way these processes have been enacted in the ocean by focusing on the relationship between the Alaska Native village of Old Harbor and the Pacific halibut fishery over time. I will explore the way that particular postulations of fish in space - fishscapes - have impacted and been initiated by indigenous fishing communities who utilize the resource. I examine how top down understandings of halibut by fishery scientists who focus on particular scales, who define stocks, and who delineate regulatory areas have come to affect the lives of fishermen in places such as Old Harbor. In addition, fishery managers, often swayed by financial interests from urban areas, have developed policy strategies that are unfavorable to or inconsiderate of these rural fishing places. Following the privatization of the halibut fishery in 1996, fishing quota left Alaska Native villages at disproportionately high rates, leading to a "checker-boarding" of indigenous fishing access. I will examine the ways Alaska Native communities on Kodiak have acted to resist and create their own understandings of fish in space both outside and within these power centers. Spatial strategies have included the development and usage of lively local geographies, the delineation of fishing territory though aggressive fishing techniques, involvement in the political fishery process, and the development of community quota entities which buy back fishing access for the village.

2008 Winners: The IPSG and IPKRC co-sponsored the International Indigenous Geographies Graduate Student Paper Award. Papers were evaluated on their overall contribution to new knowledge and understanding in the geographies of Indigenous peoples.

1st place: Charles (Chuck) Lippstreu, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Bolivia on New Terms: Evo Morales and Indigenous Socialism"

When Evo Morales was elected president of Bolivia in early 2006, he stepped into significantly more than a title role at the helm of one of the most impoverished ¬- and one of the most Indigenous – states in Latin America. Morales was suddenly a social icon. He faced an immediate need to define indigenous socialism for the world, based within the place-based struggles of Bolivia's Indigenous peoples. Because it focuses on an empowered indigenous majority – an almost totally new circumstance in Latin America – Morales' "Indigenous Socialism" begs a unique definition that even Morales didn't have at hand in the beginning. To fill the void and define what is clearly a novel political system both in Bolivia and throughout the region, Bolivia's Constituent Assembly assigned a unique committee to define the nation on new terms, combining new political structure with a desire to counteract the lasting legacy of colonialism and neoliberal intervention. In focusing on this particular committee – La Comisión de Visión de País or the "National Vision Committee" – this paper will explore how the new Bolivian government hopes to see itself defined on both the domestic and international stages. It will briefly outline Bolivia's colonial history and the lead up to indigenous political empowerment. It will analyze the controversies and arguments presented within the National Vision Committee, and it will explore reaction – both domestic and international – to the conclusions discussed by the committee.

2nd place: Heather Dorries, University of Toronto

"De-colonizing Geography/Reclaiming Indigenous Space: Indigenous Contributions to Geographic Methods and Thought"

Although the knowledges of Indigenous peoples have been marginalized in academia, the validity of various forms of Indigenous knowledge are slowly gaining recognition within various disciplines—including Geography. Following the 2003 Association of American Geographers annual meeting, there were calls to "decolonize the discipline" and the several journals devoted special editions to research on this task. Given the long history of research as a colonizing tool, the importance of decolonizing geography cannot be understated. Yet, the defining the content and approach to Geography that together constitute a "decolonization" of the discipline is not a simple task. While many researchers working in the context of Western research paradigms struggle with this question, Indigenous researchers have suggested that Indigenous research and research methodologies have always existed. However, these methods are often not recognized by the academy.

This paper provides a review of current literature exploring Indigenous epistemologies, methodologies, and the ways in which these alternate ways of knowing can simultaneously challenge and contribute to geographic thought. Far from simply forming a contribution to scientific method and knowledge, the assertion of Indigenous knowledge is also fundamental to the survival of Indigenous cultures. Thus, this review also provides an overview of literature addressing the question of how to best engage and include Indigenous knowledges in a manner that is ethical and respectful from an Indigenous perspective, and that will support the creation of space for Indigenous thought in geography.

2007 Winner: Keith W. Lindner of Colorado State University

"Biopolitical Ecuador: Race and Nature in the Formation of Nation"

A growing body of literature explores the ways in which nation and national identity are constructed and produced, and the inclusions, exclusions, and violences these processes inevitably entail. While categories such as race, ethnicity and gender have been central to such analyses, nature - surprisingly – has remained relatively unmarked. This paper argues, to the contrary, that nature is fundamental to productions of nation. Drawing primarily from Michel Foucault's notion of biopolitics and Giorgio Agamben's notion of the biopolitical fracture, the paper explores the ways in which geographies of nature are deeply implicated in the production of nation in Ecuador, and argues that nature is both constitutive of, and constituted through, these contested processes. The paper maps techniques of state biopolitics, aimed at bringing the biological under state control, in contemporary Ecuador. The case illustrates the ways in which the state, in its projects of nation building, has sought to transform and control nature just as much as populations and national identities. In struggle over the nation, the state and Ecuador's indigenous populations mobilize competing geographies of nature and modes of political qualification in complex and mutually constitutive ways. For each, nature is a fundamental element in nationality and political existence, though for different reasons and in different ways. In turn, nature is produced in and through these contested processes in ways that render it inextricable from struggles over biopolitical order and productions of nation.

2006 Winner: Chie Sakakibara, MA Candidate, University of Oklahoma

"Tikigaq Ghost Stories: Contemporary Iñupiat Identity and Place-Making in the Time of Climate Change"

This paper explores how climate change affects the worldview of the Iñupiat people of Alaska, particularly their traditional associations with non-human beings and homeland. In 2005, the author conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Point Hope (Tikigaq), Alaska, to study how recent environmental changes associated with global warming are influencing the people's spiritual and physical interactions with the bowhead whale, the living manifestation of their identity. Point Hope is one of the longest continually inhabited settlements in North America, and its history reveals inseparable ties among the Iñupiat, the whale, and the land. According to an origin story, the Tikigaq peninsula was once a bowhead whale that was transformed into the Iñupiat homeland. Thus, the land serves as the foundation of the people's cultural identity by unifying the Iñupiat and the whale. The Iñupiat sense of place has been experiencing a major transition since the 1976 relocation from their original settlement following severe flooding and erosion. The villagers' attachment to their original home, however, is strongly revealed in their contemporary storytelling tradition, which involves ghosts, mysterious creatures, and ancestral spirits that strengthen the people's ties with the old home. This storytelling enhances a process of place-making that bridges the Iñupiat past and present, namely the memories of their former and current settlements. Elucidating the cultural landscapes as well as the recent development of supernatural stories in Point Hope, this paper examines how the people currently engage themselves with their homeland through emotional and sensory experiences in this time of radical environmental changes.

2005 Winner: Julia Christiansen, MA Candidate at the University of Calgary

"Traditional Knowledge, Political Change, and Local Participation in Resource Management in the Northwest Territories, Canada"

Recent policy implemented in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada, has attempted to formalize the legitimacy of traditional knowledge in resource management. In this paper, I focus on the dimensions of the increased application and consideration of traditional knowledge in resource management in the Mackenzie Valley region of the NWT. Post-colonial literature provides a theoretical framework from which to explore how the formal application of traditional knowledge in resource management demonstrates shifting power relations in the NWT, as well as changing dynamics in the social production of space. Moreover, it allows for an exploration of the use of traditional knowledge within a broader politics of knowledge and of the ways in which knowledge systems reflect power relations in a given place. I also explore how political developments, such as comprehensive land claims negotiations and settlement, self-government agreements and the devolution process, are leading to shifts in local participation in resource management decision-making. A qualitative analysis based on ethnographic interviews, case studies and secondary data is employed to assess how the application of traditional knowledge in the Mackenzie Valley indicates increasing Aboriginal control over local lands and resources.

Honourable mention: Victoria Guyatt, MA Candidate at the University of Canterbury

"Mana Wahine and Science: Exploring relationships between Maori women, Indigenous knowledge and Western science."

This paper critically reviews Western science through a mana wahine (Maori feminist) framework. This analysis highlights the importance for Maori women to define reality for themselves, and not allow outsiders definitions of knowing to be placed upon them. Critiques on science appear to rethink much of what is valued in western culture, in which scientific reasoning and individualism are emphasized in an attempt to bring the world into a single ‘science of order’. Women have been excluded from these processes of defining culture, because it is argued they are not inherently rational beings, and have thus been constructed as Other. Based on information drawn from interviews and analysed using discursive analytical techniques, I argue that while literature suggests women, especially women of minority ethnic groups, are severely disadvantaged and disempowered by a number of factors within science, the Maori women within this research, while at times exhibiting some negative experiences, more often than not felt there position of being a Maori women in science was empowering. While there were a number of examples of the Maori women’s worldview working in conflict within their chosen scientific discipline, there were also many positive examples of the role of science enriching their lives, and the Maori women’s worldview providing a new space for science to work within. I argue that focusing on the positive working relationships between Indigenous knowledge and Western science is an integral part of moving forward and re-writing Maori women’s roles within science, and science’s role within Maori women’s lives.

2004 Winner: Janice Hardin, West Virginia University

"The Rescaling of the Innu.”

This thesis examines the interaction between the Innu of Labrador, an indigenous people in eastern Canada, and the state since the middle twentieth century. The changing spatiality of this interaction can be understood through the analysis of the politics of scale. The scale of Innu social practices has historically been both wide-ranging and fluid. The restructuring of state space after the Second World War lead to Labrador’s inclusion as a province in Canada. This event resulted in a change in the Innu’s legal status with respect to the state from a lack of formal legal recognition to the status of citizen, which greatly differs from the recognition of indigenous peoples in Canada’s other provinces. The Innu’s designation as citizens has impacted their political struggles with the state.

From the 1950s onward, the state has been increasingly involved in promoting capital accumulation in and the militarization of the lands the Innu have traditionally occupied. The state’s solution to the unwanted presence of the Innu was to forcibly settle, and therefore rescale, them in two settlements on the easternmost edge of Labrador in the 1960s. The struggle by the Innu to regain their rights since then has been shaped by not only their local dependence, but also the difficulty they have faced in trying to form coalitions with local stakeholders. Since the 1980s, the Innu have had to construct multi-scaled coalitions with other individuals and organizations at broader scales to counter the state’s militarization and promotion of mega-development projects on their lands.

Honorable mention: Mara Goldman, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Mapping Masai Place Names: Creating Space for Participatory Conservation Planning.”

2002 Winner: Julie Rice

"Battling the Forces of 'Deep Regret': Contemporary Efforts at Memorializing Wounded Knee."

In many people's opinion—both Indian and non-Indian—recognition of the significance and sacredness of W ounded Knee, in the form of a national memorial, is long overdue, for despite the American compulsion to create patriotic landscapes of heroism, triumph, and martyrdom, there is no national monument anywhere in the United States that honors the history of an indigenous nationís defense of itself. The purpose of my research is to describe and clarify the controversies that continue to shape the design, placement, interpretation, and control of the proposed Wounded Knee National Tribal Park memorial.

© 2010 Indigenous Geography