Whose Border? Contested Geographies and Columbia River Treaty Modernization
This paper explores the links between contemporary bordering processes, Indigenous nations traditional territories, and transboundary water governance processes, using the case of the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) modernization process. We posit the Columbia River is shared not just by two nations, but also by multiple Indigenous nations with various inter-nation borders. To-date, the implications of this in practice do not appear to mean a re-imagination of borders, changes in legal authority for CRT renegotiation and implementation, or rethinking the state-centric institutions in which governance of the Columbia River is based.
Three primary themes emerged from the empirical data that illustrate: (1) a reaffirmation of state-centric discourse on borders and bordering processes in CRT modernization, while (2) at the same time we see changes in the legal landscape in Canada and the U.S. that inform the obligations of colonial governments to move towards collaboration and shared governance with Indigenous nations on a government-to-government basis on issues impacting Indigenous interests. And, (3) emerging are the seeds of governance structures that seek to engage Indigenous nations within CRT renegotiation and implementation, including potentially providing a seat at the renegotiation table and including Indigenous nations within implementation structures for a modernized CRT.
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