2014 Conference

Gerald Taiaiake Alfred is a Full Professor in IGOV and in the Department of Political Science. He specializes in studies of traditional governance, the restoration of land-based cultural practices, and decolonization strategies. He is a prominent Indigenous intellectual and advisor to many First Nation governments and organizations. He has been awarded a Canada Research Chair, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the field of education, and the Native American Journalists Association award for best column writing.

Educated at Concordia and Cornell, Taiaiake has lectured at universities and colleges in Canada, the United States, England, and Australia. His writing includes numerous scholarly articles, essays in newspapers, magazines and journals, stories, book-length research reports for First Nations and government clients, as well as three published scholarly books, Wasáse (Broadview, 2005), a runner-up for the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year in 2005; Peace, Power, Righteousness (Oxford University Press, 1999/2009); and Heeding the Voices of Our Ancestors (Oxford University Press, 1995).

Taiaiake's current research involves studying the effects of environmental contamination on Indigenous cultural practices, with a special focus on the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. In the context of the United States' Natural Resources Damages Assessment process, he works as a consultant with a number of Indigenous communities to assess cultural injury due to industrial and nuclear contamination of the natural environment, and to design land-based cultural restoration plans. His previous research and consulting work centered on retraditionalization, structural reform, and leadership training for First Nations governments and organizations. He also spent many a number of years as a researcher, writer, negotiator and advisor for First Nations governments in land claims and self-government processes.

Taiaiake is a Bear Clan Mohawk . He was born in Montréal in 1964 and was raised in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. Aside from his service in the US Marine Corps as an infantryman during the 1980s, he lived in Kahnawake until 1996. He now lives on Snaka Mountain in Wsanec Nation Territory on the Saanich peninsula with his wife and three sons, who are all Laksilyu Clan of the Wet'suwet'en Nation.