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A Line of Blood and Dirt: Creating the Canada-United States Border across Indigenous Lands, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Benjamin Hoy’s A Line of Blood and Dirt: Creating the Canada-United States Border across Indigenous Lands is at once wide-ranging and sharply conceived. Drawing on a broad range of written and oral archives, Hoy examines the physical, political, and cultural making of the Canada-US border from the 1770s to the early twentieth century in beautiful and compelling prose. A Line of Blood and Dirt documents a border made in conflict, inseparable from histories of colonialism and Indigenous resistance, and designed to mean different things for different people. Hoy shows the connections between environmental and political history and histories of migration and Indigenous people, all analyzed without compromise. This is a story of settler governments but also of the environments and ordinary people who resisted and remade them.
A Line of Blood and Dirt is a powerful reminder of the capacity of history to cast new and needed light on the present, and especially the meaning and impact of international borders. The questions the book raises are difficult and tangled ones: how legal, governmental, and diplomatic decisions can determine the practice of everyday life while those lived experiences on the ground can also defy, ignore, and complicate the decisions made by the powerful. A Line of Blood and Dirt is a powerful and timely engagement between past and present, and one that will shape how we understand international and diplomatic history, environmental history, Indigenous history, and immigration history.
The Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research is administered by the Canadian Historical Association.