Nature’s Past Episode 71: Water and Anishinaabe Territory

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NP Logo 1x1 12 July 2016

Episode 71: Water and Anishinaabe Territory

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The history of the Winnipeg River watershed and Lake of the Woods is a story of loss, survival, colonialism, and ecological injustice.

Between 1893 and 1895, the Norman Dam was installed on the Winnipeg River in Treaty 3 territory upstream of the Dalles 38C Indian Reserve to power local lumber mills. This resulted in the raising of the Lake of Woods high water level by 1.8 metres, and with its released water, the random flooding of downstream manomin fields, wildlife habitat, and winter ice roads that helped sustain the Anishinaabe peoples. In 1958, the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario commenced operations on its large-scale Whitedog Falls Generating Station downstream of the Anishinaabe territory. Trapped between two dams, unregulated sewage from the nearby town of Kenora and waste from the neighbouring Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company mills poured into the waters of a river that had nowhere to go. The resulting contamination of the waters and fisheries that had sustained generations of Anishinaabe peoples led to the abandonment of the Dalles 38C community less than 20 years after the completion of the Whitedog Falls station.

This episode features an interview with Professor Brittany Luby and Chief Lorraine Cobiness about the new book Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory.

Image of Book Cover. Dammed, The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory


Lorraine Cobiness
Brittany Luby
Wendy Bhim

Production Assistance:

Wendy Bhim

Works Cited:

Luby, Brittany. Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2020.

Manomin Research Project

Sainte-Marie, Buffy, “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying,” 2017, Track 4 on Medicine Songs

Music Credits:

“Soft Piano” by Blue Jay Studio

“Success” by Joystock

Photo Credit:

“Kenora Powerhouse” Source: Brittany Luby, 2018.


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 71: Water and Anishinaabe Territory” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 12 April 2021.

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Sean Kheraj

Associate Professor and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University
Sean Kheraj is a member of the executive committee of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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