Lines Drawn Upon the Water: First Nations and the Great Lakes Borders and Borderlands.


351 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55458-004-0
DDC 971.3004'97




Edited by Karl S. Hele
Reviewed by John Steckley

John Stanley is a policy advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and


Fourteen different authors (three of whom are Aboriginal) have contributed 12 articles to this volume. The material came from a three-day workshop organized by the editor, Karl S. Hele, which was held in February 2005. The focus of the articles is varied, but deals primarily with southwestern Ontario and the Sault Ste. Marie area. It is informed by and adds significantly to the growing literature worldwide on the borderlands concept.


Of the greatest value in this work is how repeatedly the articles brought to the forefront the individual lives of Aboriginal border crossers, both in the physical sense and in the crossing-cultures sense used by Henri Giroux to refer to people who can walk back and forth to reach both sides of cultural divides. Four examples are especially notable. One is Mark Meuwese’s bringing together the materials from the border-separated French, Dutch, and English literature on the disparately named (having French, Dutch, and Mohawk appellations) Mohawk/Dutch individual unfortunately typically referred to as the “Flemish Bastard.” Another involves David McNab’s excellent use of oral traditions and of the linguistic and cultural knowledge of local elders to bring to light the life of Anishinabe Rev. William A. Elias (Ezhaaswe) through his recently discovered journals. Also significant are Michelle Hamilton’s discussion of Mohawk John Ojijatekha (Burning Sky) Brant-Sero, and Ute Lischke’s insightful look at the writings of contemporary Anishinabe writer Louise Erdrich. Useful for future writers are Phil Bellfy’s incredibly detailed appendices concerning the variously written names of “cross-border treaty-signers.”


Most of the articles are written in great detail. That, combined with the very specific focus of some of the articles, may make reading this collection of articles a challenge for potential readers. Overall, however, this work provides a valuable resource for scholars interested in the study of Aboriginal peoples of the Great Lakes region.


“Lines Drawn Upon the Water: First Nations and the Great Lakes Borders and Borderlands.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,