From the moment of organized European appearances in North America, negotiation has been a central characteristic of relationships between aboriginal residents and newcomers. It is a characteristic that has been evident in treaty-making throughout Canada for more than three hundred years and it continues to be the order of the day in modern treaties, claims and agreements being negotiated with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis across in Canada. 1
One of the central issues in the negotiations over the past three decades has been the question of aboriginal self-government, which has taken second place only to comprehensive land claims negotiations in areas where no treaties have been signed to date.
VIEWS OF ABORIGINAL SELF-GOVERNMENT
Numerous federal reports have stated that hope of a renewed relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples in Canada lies in aboriginal self-government (e.g., Canada, 1984; INAC, 1997; RCAP, 1996).
The contemporary ideal of aboriginal self-government has been described by many as parity between aboriginal, provincial and federal powers, a far cry from the kinds of colonial controls governments have exhibited.2 The usual sentiment is that colonial controls and the resulting abuse governments have heaped on aboriginal people for more than a century must be rejected. The movement toward aboriginal self-government is intended to provide greater aboriginal autonomy in relation to financial and legislative authority.
Self-government also is not necessarily represented by universally criteria. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples has said "It lies with each group to determine the character and timing of any moves to enhance its own autonomy." (RCAP, 1993: 41)
Perhaps the more commonly held vision of self-government is described by Geoffrey York (1989:269) who puts great store in more involvement by aboriginal peoples in decision-making processes that affect them:
"Cultural revival among aboriginal people is just one step toward regaining what has been lost. Self-government is the other key to the future of native people. When they are permitted to gain influence over the central institutions in their communities - the schools, the justice system, the child welfare system - Indian and Métis people have already demonstrated that they can repair the damage caused by centuries of raci...
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...ated Bibliography. Edmonton: Canadian Circumpolar Institute and the University of Alberta Library. 1994.
Supernault, C. "Helping Communities Move Toward Local Self-Government." A paper presented to the native education conference "Our People, Our Struggle, Our Spirit." November 1-3, 1988. Edmonton, Alberta.
Sustainable Development Research Group. "Coping With the Cash: a financial review of four northern land claims settlements with a view to maximizing economic opportunities from the next generation of claim settlements in the Northwest Territories." Calgary: Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. 1989.
Van den Berghe, P. "Education, Class and Ethnicity inSouthern Peru: Revolutionary Colonialism," in Education and Colonialism byP. Altbach and G. Kelly. New York:Longman, 1984, vol. 2.
Windspeaker. "Paddle Prairie pulls out of Federation: disagreement over self-government bills prompts move." Windspeaker, V7, Nov. 24, 1989. P.1-2.
Wotherspoon, T and V. Satzewich. First Nations Race, Class, and Gender Relations. Scarborough: Nelson Canada. 1993.
York, G. The Dispossessed: Life and Death in Native Canada. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd. 1989.
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