Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance
Combining socio-legal and ethnohistorical studies, this book presents the history of doodem, or clan identification markings, left by Anishinaabe on treaties and other legal documents from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. These doodems reflected fundamental principles behind Anishinaabe governance that were often ignored by Europeans, who referred to Indigenous polities in terms of tribe, nation, band, or village – classifications that failed to fully encompass longstanding cultural traditions of political authority within Anishinaabe society.
Making creative use of natural history, treaty pictographs, and the Ojibwe language as an analytical tool, Doodem and Council Fire delivers groundbreaking insights into Anishinaabe law. The author asks not only what these doodem markings indicate, but what they may also reveal through their exclusions. The book also outlines the continuities, changes, and innovations in Anishinaabe governance through the concept of council fires and the alliances between them. Original and path-breaking, Doodem and Council Fire offers a fresh approach to Indigenous history, presenting a new interpretation grounded in a deep understanding of the nuances and distinctiveness of Anishinaabe culture and Indigenous traditions.
- Series: Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
- World Rights
- Page Count: 304 pages
- Illustrations: 37
- Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.0in x 9.3in
"With sound and up-to-date scholarship, Doodem and Council Fire has the potential to leave a great impact on Indigenous Studies. Bohaker brings great imaginative intellect to this study by connecting graphic representations of the environment to actual places, animals, and plants fundamental to Anishinaabe culture, economy, and politics. This book demonstrates how scholars must pay close attention to the impact of Indigenous cultural traditions on the history of any place, while simultaneously thinking more deeply about the graphic representations of intercultural exchange."
Nancy Shoemaker, Department of History, University of Connecticut
"Thoroughly researched and carefully considered, Doodem and Council Fire makes a convincing case for doodem imagery as a key to understanding Anishinaabe treaty making, political geography, and survival. There is no other book quite like it."
Colin G. Calloway, Department of History, Dartmouth College
"Doodem and Council Fire is a work of deep scholarship that could only have been written by someone who has spent years studying doodem images and pondering their meanings. A clear labour of love, Heidi Bohaker’s work of encyclopedic scope is a terrific addition to the literature and should be acquired by the library of every university where First Nations history is taught."
Daniel K. Richter, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania
Author InformationHeidi Bohaker is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Toronto.
Table of contents
1. The Doodem Tradition
2. Family in All Four Directions
3. Anishinaabe Constitutionalism
4. Governance in Action
5. Doodem in the Era of Settler Colonialism
PrizesThe Wilson Book Prize
The Wilson Institute for Canadian History - Short-listed in 2021
Subjects and Courses