Water Back: A Review Centering Rematriation and Indigenous Water Research Sovereignty


The recent Land Back movement has catalysed global solidarity towards addressing the oppression and dispossession of Indigenous Peoples’ Lands and territories. Largely absent from the discourse, however, is a discussion of the alienation of Indigenous Peoples from Water by settler-colonial states. Some Indigenous Water Protectors argue that there cannot be Land Back without Water Back. In response to this emergent movement of Water Back, this review of research by Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers traces the discursive patterns of Indigenous Water relationships and rematriation across themes of colonialism, climate change, justice, health, rights, responsibilities, governance and cosmology. It advances a holistic conceptualization of Water Back as a framework for future research sovereignty, focusing mainly on instances in Canada, Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the United States. We present the findings on the current global Waterscape of Indigenous-led research on Indigenous Water issues. Water Back offers an important framework centring Indigenous way of knowing, doing, and being as a foundation for advancing Indigenous Water research.


Leonard, K.; David-Chavez, D.; Smiles, D.; Jennings, L.; ʻAnolani Alegado, R.; Tsinnajinnie, L.; Manitowabi, J.; Arsenault, R.; Begay, R.L.; Kagawa-Viviani, A.; Davis, D.D.; van Uitregt, V.; Pichette, H.; Liboiron, M.; Moggridge, B.; Russo Carroll, S.; Tsosie, R.L. and Gomez, A. 2023. Water back: A review centering rematriation and Indigenous Water research sovereignty. Water Alternatives 16(2).

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