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Profile: Taiaiake Alfred

More about some of the people from the 8th Fire TV series.

Professor and Author:


Taiaiake Alfred is a Mohawk scholar, writer and outspoken activist on issues ranging from assimilation to the environmental destruction of Aboriginal lands.

As a teenager from Kahnawake, Quebec in the 1980's, as a teenager, Alfred signed up for a stint with the US Marines.

It was a way, he says, of satisfying a desire for adventure and exploring his Mohawk warrior tradition.

He left the military after a few years, and went on to earn a PhD from Cornell University. Now a Professor of Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria, he is focused on the issues of traditional governance and land-based traditional practices. His time in graduate school in the United States coincided with the Oka crisis. It would shape what he came to see as his life's mission.

"It just confirmed to me that there's really no other purpose for me than communicating with the non-Indigenous society and translating our knowledge and doing battle with the non-Indigenous society in whatever way is necessary to protect our land and to protect our culture and our rights."

He's been awarded a Canada Research Chair and an Aboriginal Achievement Award.

Watch an interview with Taiaiake Alfred.


University of Victoria
Gerald Taiaiake Alfred: Resurgence of Traditional Ways of Being
Taiaiake Alfred's website