ISBN: 9781603580045 Year Added to Catalog: 2008 Book Format: Paperback Book Art: Black and White Photos Number of Pages: 408 Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Release Date: April 30, 2008 Web Product ID: 354
"Richardson's book is, in a sense, a memorial to the Cree culture.... The cumulative effect of his narrative is powerful."
—The Globe and Mail
In Strangers Devour the Land Boyce Richardson provides an intimate look into the people and communities of James Bay, particularly the Cree. It is a moving chronicle of the resistance of people to the dams, the story of James Bay I, and how Hydro-Quebec came to begin the largest single hydroelectric project in North America.
There are no longer “strangers” who devour the land. They are entrenched in the north, in the form of Hydro-Quebec, which put 4,400 square miles of land under water and wreaked ecological havoc in an additional 67,954 square miles.
Can you imagine a man who has lived his whole life in Paris—and one day awakens, looks out his window, and Paris is underwater? It just wouldn’t happen.
—from the Foreword by Winona LaDuke
First published in 1974, Strangers Devour the Land is recognized as the magnum opus among the numerous books, articles, and films produced by Boyce Richardson over two decades on the subject of indigenous people. Its subject, the long struggle of the Crees of James Bay in northern Quebec—a hunting and trapping people—to defend the territories they have occupied since time immemorial, came to international attention in 1972 when they tried by legal action to stop the immense hydro-electric project the provincial government was proposing to build around them.
The Crees argued that the integrity of their vast wilderness was essential to their way of life, but the authorities dismissed such claims out of hand. Richardson, who sat through many months of the trial, mingles the scientific and Cree testimony given in court with his own interviews of Cree hunters, and experiences in gathering information and shooting films, to produce a classic tale of cultures in collision.
In a new preface, he reveals that the Crees—now receiving immense sums of money as compensation for the loss of their lands—appear to be doing well, and to be in the process of joining modern, technological culture, while retaining the spiritual base of their traditional lives. Meanwhile, Hydro-Quebec continues to eye additional rivers on the Cree’s lands for new dams.
About the Author
Born in New Zealand in 1928, Boyce Richardson has worked as a journalist and editor in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, and Canada. He first became interested in the Cree Indians while he was on the staff of the Montreal Star, and subsequently produced three documentary films about them. He is the author of several books and has contributed articles to many magazines in the United States, Canada, and Britain. Richardson now lives in Ottawa.