By Professor Heidi Bohaker.
The Osgoode Society is thrilled to announce that Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance, by Professor Heidi Bohaker, has been awarded the Canadian Historical Association’s Prize for Best Book in Political History Prize. Congratulations to Professor Bohaker.
Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance Through Alliance also won the Ontario Historical Society’s Joseph Brant Award for 2020—2021.
While Canada’s constitution protects Indigenous treaty rights, Canadians know much less about the legal traditions of Indigenous nations and the ways in which these different traditions informed treaties made between Indigenous peoples and the Crown. Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance, by Heidi Bohaker, Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto, is a ground-breaking exploration of one Indigenous legal tradition. In it, the author explains how a uniquely Anishinaabe category of kinship, the doodem, structured governance and law as practiced in formal councils (referred to metaphorically as fires) through the practice of alliance formation. Such alliances created relationships of interdependence, which were renewed through the exchange of gifts in council. The records of early Canadian treaties, Bohaker argues, are to be found in the records of gifts exchanged to create these alliances between council fires; the Anishinaabe treated the French, and later the British, as if their governments were council fires also. In return, colonial officials adhered to Indigenous law when they entered into treaties. Bohaker weaves together a voluminous amount of research from both Anishinaabe and European sources, including archival documents and material culture from institutions in Canada, Britain and France, to describe the continuities and changes in Anishinaabe governance and law until settler colonial law (the Indian Act) replaced traditional governance with elected band councils.
REVIEWS OF DOODEM AND COUNCIL FIRE: ANISHINAABE GOVERNANCE THROUGH ALLIANCE
Heidi Bohaker’s Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance Through Alliance is a remarkable work. Thoroughly scholarly, yet deeply embedded in Indigenous community-based knowledge, it is a legal history that expands a field usually viewed only as concerned with the study of European derived legal institutions and theories of jurisprudence. Bohaker argues that Anishinaabe, especially those of the eastern Great Lakes, developed socio-culturally distinctive political traditions, … the means to govern themselves and a tradition of governance practice or law.’ Rebecca Kugel, Canadian Historical Review, Vol 103, 2022, pp. 155-157.
REVIEWS OF DOODEM AND COUNCIL FIRE:ANISHINAABE GOVERNANCE THROUGH ALLIANCE HAVE ALSO APPEARED IN:
Jennifer Brown, Prairie History, No 5, 2021, pp. 74-76.
Samantha Stevens, Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol 36, 2021,pp. 554-555.