The Idea of Progress, Industrialization, and the Replacement of Indigenous Peoples:
The Muskrat Falls Megadam Boondoggle
This essay examines the continuing currency of the idea of progress to justify the state and corporate appropriation of Indigenous peoples’ lands and the diminution of their rights. Focusing upon the Innu peoples of the Labrador-Quebec peninsula and the Newfoundland government–sponsored Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, especially its Muskrat Falls megadam component, the essay shows how the megadam is framed by a narrative of progress and a corrupt land claims process that violates Aboriginal title. In this context, I argue that the idea of industry as progress justifies the replacement of Indigenous peoples and their land-based ways of life with appeals to prosperity and sustainable development in which they are rendered insignificant.
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