Sophie Major

Indigenous Political Thought: Sechelt and Haida Theories of Sovereignty

The political theory discipline has, with few exceptions, failed to take seriously the diverse and intricate traditions of indigenous political thought. Separately, in Canada, the government and public continues to reckon with the country’s racist and colonial past, undertaking projects of healing, reconciliation, and indigenous recognition. Within this context, my dissertation research first, uses ethnographic methods to document political theories traditionally passed down through oral histories and cultural teachings in the Sechelt and Haida Nations, two First Nations in British Columbia, Canada. This will result in co-created textual documentation of both traditions central political theories. Second, the research theoretically assesses these indigenous theories, comparatively evaluating the ideals and philosophies in relation to theories of well-studied western political theorists. Specifically, the project will evaluate Sechelt and Haida concepts of sovereignty and self-determination. The purpose of the research is to contribute to the decolonization of political theory by recognizing the legitimacy of the political philosophies of culturally and racially diverse thinkers, and to theorize what Sechelt and Haida philosophies can contribute to existing political theory debates. The research also serves the Sechelt and Haida Nations by improving documentation of traditional political values which can inform their projects of redrafting their constitutions.