Hokkaidō 150: Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in Modern Japan and Beyond


Coming off the sesquicentennial of the Meiji Restoration in 2018, the 2018-2019 Academic Year marks another significant 150th anniversary in Japanese history: that of the settler colonization of the northern island of Hokkaidō, or Ainu Moshir as it was known to the Indigenous Ainu peoples. In the spirit of continuing the national moments of commemoration that occasioned Canada 150 and Meiji at 150, the Centre for Japanese Research proudly presents “Hokkaidō 150: Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in Modern Japan and Beyond.” We invite members of the UBC and larger Vancouver community to reflect on the history of settler colonialism and its impacts on Indigenous peoples, while celebrating the local culture, art, and music of BC and Hokkaidō as we renew our mutual commitment to international cooperation and Truth and Reconciliation.
See highlights from the event below, including a music video and photos from the musical concert, video and audio recordings of the workshop lectures, and various digital resources related to Hokkaidō held in UBC Library Open Collections or prepared by UBC students.

Source: Map of Ezo, 蝦夷地絵圖 (Ezochi ezu). 1867. UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections. Click here to see original.

Indigenous Music from Hokkaidō + BC

The Centre for Japanese Research and the Museum of Anthropology co-hosted an evening of Indigenous music featuring Ainu performers Mayunkiki and Tomoe Yahata from Hokkaidō, and Haida singer Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson with Bill Henderson, Claire Lawrence, Jodi Proznick, Saffron Henderson and Camille Henderson from British Columbia.

Mayunkiki Born in Asahikawa, Hokkaidō, Mayunkiki is a member of Marewrew, a female Ainu quartet singing traditional Ainu songs since 2008. She is also an instructor of the Ainu language.

Tomoe Yahata Born in Shiraoi, Hokkaidō, Tomoe is a curator at the National Ainu Museum (to open in 2020) as well as a singer and dancer, who is committed to introducing Ainu cultures.

Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson Born and raised in Haida Gwaii, BC, Terri-Lynn has dedicated herself to the continuation of Haida culture. She is a Haida musician, artist, and lawyer, well known for her work in aboriginal-environmental law and as a recognized keeper of traditions.

Workshop: Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in Modern Japan and Beyond

Panel 1: Ainu Identity and Settler Colonialism

Gendering Settler Colonialism: Seeing the Colonization of Ainu Mosir from Ainu Women’s Perspectives
Dr. ann-elise lewallen, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara


Terra Nullius and Its Consequences for Ainu’s Eco-Communal Life: The Settler-Colonial Development of Hokkaidō
Dr. Katsuya Hirano, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California-Los Angeles


The Stolen History of Ainu “Liminars”
Dr. Mai Ishihara, Postdoctoral Researcher, Hokkaidō University


Discussion and Q&A
Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, Associate Professor, First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Political Science, University of British Columbia

Keynote Lecture: Indigeneity, Specters of Colonialism, and the Phantasmagoria of Empire

Detail of Bankoku Sōzu (萬國総圖). Nagasaki, 1671. Source: Bavarian State Library, BSB-Hss Cod.jap. 4. Click here to see original.

Dr. Danika Medak-Saltzman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Syracuse University. Her work focuses on Indigenous Feminisms, Native histories, Indigenous thought and theory, transnational Indigeneity, Indigenous futurisms, and visual culture—including film and cultural production. She examines the transnational movement of American colonial policies–particularly in the case of Japan—in her book, Specters of Colonialism: Native Peoples, Visual Cultures, and Colonial Projects in the U.S. and Japan, forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.

Hokkaidō 150 Digital Resources

Images courtesy UBC Rare Books and Special Collections

Hokkaidō 150 Class Projects

See below for a collection of visual resources compiled by students in History 271 at the University of British Columbia.

Co-organized and Hosted by:

Dr. Tristan R. Grunow, Assistant Professor w/o Review, Department of History, UBC
Dr. Fuyubi Nakamura, Curator, Asia, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Website constructed and maintained by Tristan Grunow
Hokkaidō 150 takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people, and is made possible through the generous financial support of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver and the Japan Foundation-Toronto; the Centre for Japanese Research, the Department of History, the Faculty of Arts, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia; and the David Lam Centre for International Communication at Simon Fraser University.