Lynn Gehl, Ph.D., is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe. She is an advocate, artist, writer, and an outspoken critic of colonial law and policies that harm Indigenous women, men, children, and the land. Her 2014 book based on her doctoral work “The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process” was published with Fernwood Publishing. Her 2017 book explores her journey deeper into Indigenous knowledge and was published with the University of Regina Press titled “Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit”. In April 2017 Lynn was successful in defeating Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s unstated paternity policy when the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled the sex discrimination in the policy was unreasonable.
Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit published with the University of Regina Press is rooted in my need to understand Indigenous knowledge (IK) in an intellectual sense as well as in a heartfull way. Foremost it offers my journey deeper into IK and the articulation of the location of the human spirit.
The book is organized in four parts with several chapters in each. Some chapters are long and some short. Throughout there are glyph drawings that will serve the thinking and learning journey. In the first part I talk about myself. I do this because in the Anishinaabe tradition it is valued that knowledge is subjective and personal. In short, we, or ourselves, are the frameworks of what we come to know as truth.
The second part requires conceptual thinking and in this way reading Claiming Anishinaabe is more of a journey rather than the reader being a passive vessel adding to their stock of knowledge. It offers three theories: the location of the human spirit; how IK differs from Western laboratory science; and the debwewin journey methodology of coming to truth. In offering my thoughts I rely on ancient Anishinaabe scroll knowledge. I also talk about the difference between Indigenist and feminist paradigms where again conceptual thought on the part of the reader is required.
The third part offers what I call traditional stories in that they are rooted in Anishinaabe beliefs. Some are my reflections on stories that I have been fortunate to learn, hear, and read. Some are my own stories written after spiritual animating experiences, where others are my deep thoughts on something that I pondered for a long time. Collectively they represent the knowledge I moved into when seeking out IK and thinking about the location of the human spirit. The chapters in this part are important but the reader will only understand this once they take the time and ponder the concepts in the first half of the book.
The fourth part offers my anti-colonial work rooted in the IK and the Indigenist tradition. I discuss the destruction of Chaudière Falls and the Islands where Creator placed the First Sacred Pipe, my work challenging the sex discrimination in the Indian Act, and Indigenous citizenship issues.
It is hoped that this work inspires people to appreciate their IK as it is our ancient knowledge traditions that make us the humans Creator intended us to be. We are all Indigenous to the Earth and we all need to ask ourselves, “What is my Indigenous knowledge?” because nation state knowledge will not sustain us in terms of Mother Earth and the gifts She provides.
Link: The Current CBC