Terra Cognita | The Walrus
Header image The Paradise Syndrome, Voyage #36 (2016), by Sonny Assu (sonnyassu.com). Image courtesy of the artist.
“I inherited a set of spiral-bound navigation books from my grandfather, which are often used by mariners to plot their course of travel on the water. My grandfather didn’t have much use for them, mind you. He knew the waters of the inside passage like the back of his hand.
“Pre-contact, the Ligwiłda’xw, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the other Pacific coastal First Nations once had full reign over their respective territories. As I looked over these charts, reliving my childhood on the water, I couldn’t help but think of what the government had left us and what harm that has done. Scanning the vast land and water base, I saw the origin place of the Ligwiłda’xw and was able to trace our move south. I saw where the Ligwiłda’xw once gathered food. Where the Ligwiłda’xw gathered in times of war, and in times of ceremony, with their neighbours. The coastal First Peoples once had vast networks of trade, communication, and kinship. In the end, the wave of colonialism relined Indigenous nations to the confines of imposed boundaries, only visible and enforceable by settlers with magic eyes.”
Editor-in-chief Robert Jago (pun intended)
Supervising editor Hamutal Dotan
Art direction Meredith Holigroski
Digital production Angela Misri, Phil James
Editorial support Tajja Isen, Samia Madwar, Carmine Starnino
Head of research Erin Sylvester
Fact checkers Allison Baker, Sejla Rizvic, Nicole Schmidt, Amy van den Berg
Copy editor Jonah Brunet
The Walrus thanks David and Natasha Sharpe for generously supporting Terra Cognita and Indigenous storytelling.