Queen's University

Putting the theory of Kanataron:non into practice: Teaching Indigenous governance

Diagram illustrating the Kanata Territory Council, from the research of Queen's University professor Dr. Thohahoken Michael DoxtaterWithin a context of 150 years of external Canadian government interference in their local affairs, a northeastern North American Mohawk community called ‘Kanata’ is steeped in a tradition for resisting external Canadian government control. A 2-year study of governance by the people of Kanata used action research with critical learning methods to investigate the feasibility of returning to traditional decision-making processes. The tribal council formed a research team to produce workshops, focus groups, interviews, and simulations using cultural forms recognizable to the participants. Using the collaboratively designed research methods the research demonstrated that individuals had knowledge of their governance heritage and willingly learned detailed aspects of the governing process. The research also determined that Kanata’s people were pragmatic and understood that a return to traditional governance faced longstanding rivalries and divisions in the community. The research identified the view among the participants that teaching smaller groups consensus-building begins with the leadership of the tribal council using the traditional decision-making model. (Read More)