The Eagle Said, “I will Take You Home Again”: Reclaiming Indigenous Histories from the Geological Survey of Canada, c. 1870–1910


  • Janet Miron Trent University


Raymond Miron (Anishinaabe and French, Bawaating/Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) and Robert Nolan (Anishinaabe, Batchewana First Nation, Ketegaunseebee/Garden River, Ontario) worked with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, specifically with one of its employees, Robert Bell, a settler of Scottish descent. Miron and Nolan were two of the many Indigenous Peoples who shared their expertise, knowledge, skills, technologies, maps, and travel routes with Bell as he endeavoured to explore the northern half of North America for the GSC. However, in his published reports, Bell evaded acknowledgment of the many contributions made by Indigenous Peoples, despite the dependency of his work upon them. Nevertheless, by attending to silences in colonial archives and reading between the lines of the GSC’s sources, Indigenous stories can be uncovered and reclaimed from the narratives constructed by White explorers. What Miron, Nolan, and so many other Indigenous people shared with Bell, as well as what he took from them without consent, was based on rich geographic and geological knowledge that predated the GSC by thousands of years. Indeed, the significance and brilliance of Indigenous knowledge permeates the records of the Geological Survey, including those written by Bell, and defied colonial attempts to erase or deny it.

Author Biography

Janet Miron, Trent University

Janet Miron is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Trent University.