Native Sovereignty

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Native Sovereignty

In the following assignment, I will discuss the issue of native sovereignty in Canada, and address the question; "Can native sovereignty coexist with Canadian sovereignty?" To answer this question I will summarize two articles that discuss the issue. The first by John A. Olthius and Roger Townshend entitled "The Case for Native Sovereignty", and the second, by Thomas Flanagan, entitled "Native Sovereignty: Does Anyone Really want an Aboriginal Archipelago?" I will be taking the position against the coexistence of native sovereignty with Canadian sovereignty. These two articles will help me support my position on the issue.

Olthius and Townshend are in favour of native sovereignty within Canada based on historical and moral grounds. These authors believe there is a difference in perceptions between native and non-native Canadians regarding the jurisdiction over Canadian territory. In their essay, they write that Aboriginal people believe the Canadian state is oppressive and usurps the powers of Aboriginal people, while most non-aboriginals would be unlikely to question the status of the Canadian state. The essay contends that before European settlement, First Nations people had stability in their economic and political structures. Although their style was different than that of European nations, there was recognition of sovereignty of aboriginal lands. Acquisition of land in Canada did not come from conquest; rather it came primarily in the form of land transaction treaties. However, the treaties did little to support the claim of Canadian sovereignty since they are mostly unclear about issues of jurisdiction. A secondary way of claiming land for European settlement was through discovery of vacan...

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...people in Canada. Creating a new level of government, and giving such potential political power to a relatively small percentage of Canada's population doesn't seem like a very wise idea, especially since the distance and many differences between the many nations of aboriginal people is so great. It remains to be seen whether native and non-native Canadians can come to an agreement on the definition of sovereignty.



Olthius, John A. and Townshend, Roger. "The case for Native sovereignty". In Crosscurrents: Contemporary Political Issues, 3rd ed. ed. Mark Charlton and Paul Barker, 5-8. Toronto: Nelson, 1998.

Flanagan, Thomas. "Native sovereignty: Does Anyone Really want an Aboriginal Archipelago?". In Crosscurrents: Contemporary Political Issues, 3rd ed. ed. Mark Charlton and Paul Barker, 9-15. Toronto: Nelson, 1998.
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