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Map Is Territory

Map Is Territory

(p.87) 5 Map Is Territory
The Story of Radio Mind
Pamela E. Klassen
University of Chicago Press

This chapter follows Frederick Du Vernet to the Pacific northwest, where the Anglican Church had consecrated him as the Bishop of Caledonia. Focusing on Du Vernet’s stories of land and spirits through maps, the chapter engages with critical cartography in Indigenous studies. Coming from a long line of colonial mapmakers, Du Vernet participated in the cartographic erasure via storytelling that historian Jean O’Brien has called firsting and lasting, by which settler claims are validated and Indigenous vanishing is falsely asserted. His responsibility to oversee the church’s real estate throughout the diocese meant he actively pursued what Indigenous studies scholar Aileen Moreton-Robinson has called the “white possessive”: colonial cartography was a medium through which white men told and made real a story of colonial possession. In conversation with the work of Jonathan Z. Smith on religion and mapping, the chapter argues that map is territory, and that as a diasporic travelling religion, missionary Christianity depended on maps to spread the gospel. Tracing Ts’msyen and Nisga’a resistance to the surveys and maps of colonial land commissions and Indian agents, the chapter challenges Du Vernet’s story of the vanishing of the Ts’msyen trickster Weeget with Indigenous counter-narratives of space, place, and spirit.

Keywords:   Nisga’a, cartographic erasure, Jean O’Brien, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, white possessive, Diocese of Caledonia, Jonathan Z. Smith, real estate, Weeget, Indian agent, Ts’msyen

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