My name is Daniel Rück (Rueck) and I teach history of settler colonialism, Canadian-Indigenous relations, environmental history, and legal history in the Department of History at the University of Ottawa. My settler ancestors arrived in North America between 1860 and 1960 from the British Islands and Central Europe. I grew up in Austria, Hungary, and Western Canada.
My research concerns land tenure and land use on Indigenous territories, with a particular focus on the laws by which Indigenous people managed their lands, and how empires and nation-states opposed and undermined these practices. In particular, I work on the history of land management and colonialism in Kahnawà:ke in collaboration with Mohawk experts. I work with archival sources such as historical survey data and maps, and use digital tools to visualize and analyze these data. My work contextualizes current legislative efforts to privatize reserve lands and to terminate Indigenous land rights within the larger history of Canadian and U.S. endeavors to break up Indigenous communities and lands, as well as Indigenous peoples’ own dedication to the maintenance, growth, and flourishing of their communities and lands.
I am currently involved in two funded research projects. First, I am a partner in a project (with Brian Gettler of U of T and Maxime Gohier of UQAR) funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to make Department of Indian Affairs documents from 1860 to 1873 searchable and available for the first time, and to thus open up deeper understandings of Indigenous-Canadian relations at the time of Confederation. Another of my ongoing projects is to digitize and spatialize the notebooks and diaries of land surveyors who were responsible for much of the on-the-ground work of dispossessing Indigenous peoples and facilitating the land transfer to (mostly) white men. The project, titled “Stakeholders: Land Surveyors in the Global Settler Colonial Project” has received seed funding from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. The pilot project currently under way focuses on the nineteenth-century Dominion Lands Surveyor Otto J. Klotz as a way to understanding Canadian colonialism in the Prairie West.
My current manuscript, under contract for publication with UBC Press, is titled Laying Down the Law: Indigenous governance and settler colonialism in Mohawk country.