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book review

Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit

By Lynn Gehl

University of Regina Press, 212 pages, $24.95

On April 20, the Ontario Court of Appeal granted Lynn Gehl the right to register as "Indian" under the Indian Act, finding Indigenous and Northern Affairs unreasonable in denying Gehl status because she does not know her paternal grandfather's identity. On Tuesday, the federal government announced it would end long-standing gender discrimination in the Indian Act – another win for those like Gehl whose claims are through matrilineal ancestry. While these are significant gains, in her most recent book Gehl counters the legalistic approach with a holistic, Indigenist view of what it means to claim Anishinaabe. Some readers may find Gehl's approach provocative. That might be intentional, but with a purpose: Gehl writes from an Anishinaabe way of knowing that is a different paradigm from Western thinking; Claiming Anishinaabe is partly about finding a new paradigm in which different knowledge systems can exist as equals, not one over the other. Because to deny Indigenous knowledge is to deny the full expression of the spirit and what makes us human.

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