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Comparative analysis of aboriginal as well as federal government perspective on native self-government in Canada

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Introduction

Aboriginal right to self-government is the most precious aboriginal right of the First Nations in Canada. Aboriginals themselves understood the concept of self-government as that the Creator gave each people the right to govern its own affairs, as well as land on which to live and with which to sustain their lives (1)( Boldt and Long, 1985). Other human beings cannot take these rights away. However, federal government of Canada does not divide these perceptions with the First Nations. Today the general right of natives to self-government is a right not yet recognized in Canadian law (2).(Havemann, 2000). Meanwhile Canadian officials have been trying to negotiate with the First Nations by implementing different policies towards increased self-government for Indians. However, their attempts have not been achieving successful results due to the fact that Aboriginal and federal government perspectives on native self-government are different. This paper will offer a comparative analysis of aboriginal and federal government standpoints on native self-government. Also, facts of federal government attempts to balance the demands by First Nations for greater control over their internal affairs will be mentioned. To understand properly the development of Aboriginal perspective on native self-government it is helpful to review some history. Thus, before the European settlement it was unknown among the First Nations for one nation to deprive another nation by force of its right to self-determination (3). (Bold and Long, 1985). However, in Europe conquest and domination were frequent occurrences. ...read more.

Middle

------------------------------------- The federal government, however, will not consider the claim of the Coppermine Indians to petroleum under their lands on the basis that they did not make use of it historically, and thus are not considered to have an aboriginal right to it. In analogy to this example, the Arabs of Saudi Arabia should de denied the right to exploit oil resources. In this light federal argument looks silly. Further, the federal government claims that it has all rights in aboriginal areas, although it did not make use of those rights historically. Oddly, the federal government claims that it can make agreements regarding the removal of aboriginal title and rights but that it cannot pass laws recognizing aboriginal title and rights. Another absurd situation arises from a restrictive interpretation of aboriginal rights by the federal government, which concludes that a First Nation can exercise its right only in the precise way they did in pre-settlement times. If a First Nation used bone rather than steel fishhooks, than it can only exercise its aboriginal right to fish with bone hooks. The fact that settlers have been able to move from bone hooks to fishing trawlers in no way mitigates this nonsensical position. Canadians seem to be able to keep permanence of identity and rights despite their technological evolution from horses and buggies to jets. Knickers and three-cornered hats are no longer in fashion. Why must Indian people be limited to a particular anthropological time in order to qualify for exercise of an aboriginal right? ...read more.

Conclusion

The charter would also, within limits, allow bands to pass their own by-laws. However, the process of developing federal government policy on Indian government was significantly reduced due to the fact that federal spending was out of control, as Lambert Commission concluded in1997. As a result of this Commission, federal funding to Indian bands was drastically reduced. While the Ministry of Indian Affairs was trying to encourage and foster the development of autonomous Indian government, it was simultaneously forced by broader policies of government to impose stringent terms and conditions on how money would be spent, how it would be accounted for, and what systems will be put in place at the band level to achieve this accountability. Thus, the Lambert Commission's recommendations on cutting down the federal finding frustrated the Indian government and undermined their trust in federal government In conclusion, the federal government supports a very limited concept of Indian government. Its perception of Indian government is that Indians will exercise the powers the minister now exercises on behalf of Indians. The charter system that that the federal government proposed for the bands can enable a legal foundation to be put in place to allow Indian governments to exercise those powers on behalf of the minister at the reserve level. The implications of the proposed federal government legislation for Indian government mean the following: 'nationhood' is not acceptable; 'sovereignty' is not acceptable; a 'municipal' for Indians is not acceptable; 'institutional' level for Indians is not acceptable. Therefore, there is a wide gap between the Indian concept of Indian government and what the federal government is prepared to negotiate and approve. ...read more.

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