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History Native American


The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory

by (author) Brittany Luby

University of Manitoba Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Native American, Native American Studies, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
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  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
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Dammed explores Canada’s hydroelectric boom in the Lake of the Woods area. It complicates narratives of increasing affluence in postwar Canada, revealing that the inverse was true for Indigenous communities along the Winnipeg River.

Dammed makes clear that hydroelectric generating stations were designed to serve settler populations. Governments and developers excluded the Anishinabeg from planning and operations and failed to consider how power production might influence the health and economy of their communities. By so doing, Canada and Ontario thwarted a future that aligned with the terms of treaty, a future in which both settlers and the Anishinabeg might thrive in shared territories.

The same hydroelectric development that powered settler communities flooded manomin fields, washed away roads, and compromised fish populations. Anishinaabe families responded creatively to manage the government-sanctioned environmental change and survive the resulting economic loss. Luby reveals these responses to dam development, inviting readers to consider how resistance might be expressed by individuals and families, and across gendered and generational lines.

Luby weaves text, testimony, and experience together, grounding this historical work in the territory of her paternal ancestors, lands she calls home. With evidence drawn from archival material, oral history, and environmental observation, Dammed invites readers to confront Canadian colonialism in the twentieth century.

About the author


BRITTANY LUBY (Anishinaabe-kwe, atik totem) est l’une des nombreuses arrière-petites-filles du chef Kawitaskung, un chef Anishinaabe qui a signé le Traité de l’angle nord-ouest en 1873. D’un coup de crayon, Kawitaskung a accepté de partager des parties de ce qui représente aujourd’hui le Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario avec des colons et leurs descendants. Grâce à ses grands-pères exceptionnels, Brittany croit au pouvoir de l’encre et des mots, c’est pourquoi elle écrit en faveur de la justice sociale. Elle est aussi professeure d’histoire à l’Université de Guelph, spécialisée dans l’histoire de l’Amérique du Nord.


BRITTANY LUBY (Anishinaabe-kwe, atik totem) is the many-greats granddaughter of Chief Kawitaskung, an Anishinaabe leader who signed the North-West Angle Treaty of 1873. With a pen stroke, Kawitaskung agreed to share parts of what is now Northwestern Ontario with settlers and their descendants. Because of her many-greats grandfather, Brittany believes that ink is a powerful tool. The words we write lay the foundation for our future. Brittany writes for social justice. She is also a history professor at the University of Guelph, specializing in Indigenous history in North America.


Brittany Luby's profile page


  • Winner, NiCHE Prize for Best Book in Canadian Environmental History, Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, CLIO History Prize (Ontario), Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Indigenous History Book Prize, Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research
  • Winner, Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize, Canadian Historical Association
  • Winner, Floyd S. Chambers Award for Ontario History, The Champlain Society
  • Commended, Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award

Editorial Reviews

"Brittany Luby’s Dammed is an important book that pushes the reader to question Canada's nation-building process and to reconcile with the fact that Canada's growth and prosperity were at the expense of Indigenous peoples—with the experience of the Anishinaabeg along the Winnipeg River, and Luby’s home territory, being the example focused upon."

Journal of Australian, Canadian, and Aotearoa New Zealand Studies

"Luby presents the reader with an erudite, but eminently readable, account of the last hundred or so years of human interaction with, and manipulation of, the waterways of Northwestern Ontario… weaving together archival material with Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in an accessible and compelling way."

EVENT Magazine

"Taking pains to dispel notions of a monolithic First Nations experience, Dammed paints a picture of diverse forms of Canadian Indigenous resistance that long predates unified opposition to the 1969 White Paper, thereby deepening our understandings of First Nations adaptation and resistance to imposed social, political, and environmental change."⁠

Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal

“The book belies the settler mythology of progress and growth, especially after the Second World War, and the colonial binary of settler expansion/Indigenous victimization. The people [Luby] features in her book demonstrate resilience in the face of challenge, which is a point to be emphasized and extolled.”

Canadian Historical Review

“In Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory, Luby offers a history, based on archival and oral resources, of the damming and transformation of the Winnipeg River system, all to the detriment of Indigenous people. A history of race, class, gender and labour, Dammed is also a compelling argument for an increased ability to think in systems and to think deeply about how a pathway to reconciliation needs to be bathed in historical reciprocity.”

Winnipeg Free Press

"Luby proves that small dams can have big histories and, in doing so, makes a major contribution to Canadian Indigenous and settler colonial history as well as engaged community research."

Histoire sociale / Social History

“A major contribution to the history of development in post-war Canada.”

Cahiers de géographie du Québec

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