The Land Is Our History: Indigeneity, Law and the Settler State by Miranda Johnson (Oxford University Press)
The Land Is Our History is a superb example of the power of comparative, transnational historical research. It explores indigenous rights movements, from the late 1960s onwards, across three Commonwealth settler states — Canada, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Miranda Johnson draws on a rich array of source material, including legal cases, petitions, interviews and media reports, to create an engaging and path-breaking book.
The Land Is Our History convincingly argues that indigenous activists were able to successfully pursue their claims in part because recognising indigenous title claims gave the settler states a number of opportunities. Recognising indigenous history, culture and rights helped these nations find fresh stories of foundation as they sloughed off old imperial ties. Recognition simultaneously affirmed the states’ legal and political systems. From the 1950s, previously colonised peoples around the world had been achieving self-government and independence, but this would not be the case for indigenous peoples in these three states. Rather, by recognising indigenous peoples’ land title and special rights, the settler states took full sovereignty out of consideration.