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Aboriginal Rights as a Tool of Colonialism: Part Three – Bruce McIvor

by ahnationtalk on September 28, 202329 Views

September 28, 2023

The Supreme Court’s view of Aboriginal rights is not part of the past, it lives in the present, decision after decision. When the Court took the unavoidable step of making a declaration of Aboriginal title, it perpetuated the biases underlying its colonial intellectual tradition. It framed the proof of Aboriginal title in terms of nomads and semi-nomads, of Indigenous Peoples’ technological abilities and their land’s carrying capacity.

The effect of reading the Supreme Court’s decision triggered memories of my childhood experience at the museum. I paused in reading the decision, pushed back my chair, closed my eyes and found myself working my way along an evolutionary line beginning with nomadic, Indigenous hunters, proceeding to the arrival of a sailing ship from Europe, filled with new technology and introducing Indigenous people to commercial markets and then on to the arrival of the settlers bringing with them civilization, agriculture and education.

The Court’s words made me think of how often at museums and in educational documentaries Indigenous people continue to be depicted along with the wildlife–what is the carrying capacity of an ecosystem for moose, rabbits, partridges (Indigenous people?)–before they are left behind, stuck in the past, while the real story of nation building gets rolling.

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