Genocide, Assimilation or Incorporation?

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Maysie Maysie's picture
Genocide, Assimilation or Incorporation?

This is a video of a talk given by Professor Bonita Lawrence (Mi'kmaw), who is a friend and colleague of mine and is an Associate Professor at York University, where she teaches Native studies and anti-racism.

She rocks.

From the link:

On October 25, 2008, Dr. Lawrence took part in the 7th Annual New College Conference on Racism & National Consciousness, where she spoke for one full hour on "Genocide, Assimilation, or Incorporation: Indigenous Identity and Modes of Resistance."

In her talk, Dr. Lawrence explores "aboriginal policy", the historical framework through which Canada has sought to erase the identity of Indigenous people, by systematically breaking down their cultures, belief systems, community and family structures, and their governments-in many cases, at the barrel of a gun.

She hones in on three specific occurrences in the 19th century for causing the most damage.

First was Canada's refusal to deal with Indigenous confederacies. Instead, the government singled out individual villages, around 620 altogether-which allowed the govenrment to politically, socially and economically segregate everyone across the land.

Then came the banishment of Ceremony and the removal of strong Leaders, all of whom were over time replaced with "Christian converts" and individuals willing to represent Canada's short- and long-term interests.

Finally, there was the political, social, and cultural disempowerment of Indigenous Women-and the forced assimilation of children-which allowed for the erosion and replacement of the fabric of indigenous identity.

Link to video here. It's a full hour. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

BC Treaty Advocate Elected Chair of UN Permanent Forum on Indigneous Issues



Letter/Comment from the above posting on BC's 'trick or treaty'process and implications for Indigenous Sovereignty:

Self-Determination, Treaties and Integration

"The implementation of 'local self government' via Canadian Corporations and 'First Nations' constituencies, is the very same tactic used to DOMESTICATE the Native American federally recognized tribes under the 1943 Howard-Wheeler Act that produced the elective systems on the reservations. This tactic allows both governments to argue in the international arena that they are not in violation of the right of Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples by having allowed these 'non-self governing territories' and their constituencies of Indigenous Peoples the option of voluntary INTEGRATION into the metropolitan state."  - Chantlaca -

aka: 'extinguishment with consent' - the (neo) colonialism, genocide and Vichy-regime change continues

"Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian that has not been absorbed into the body politic of Canada...that is the whole purpose of our legislation." Duncan Campbell Scott, DIA Canada 1921


Treaty Opponents Speak Out

As Tla'amin (Sliammon FN members prepare to vote on a treaty some community members are raising concerns with the documents as well as the process leading up to the vote..."


Tla'amin Treaty Vote, June 16:

"A month of coverage on the upcoming final agreement.."

Just another BC 'extinguishment with consent,' 'trick-or-treaty' : How the West was [stolen] won...


Treaty Protesters Shut Down Vote (and vid)  by Laura Walz

"The protesters placed vehicles in front of the doors, preventing anyone from going into the building. 'We feel that there has not been full disclosure as to what the Sliammon people stand to lose if the treaty is implemented.."



The above explains the below:


Treaty Process Close to Failing

"To the many misfortunes that have befallen Canada's aboriginal peoples we can add one more: The BC treaty process. Some aboriginal groups have walked away in disgust, and many more would do so, but for an unbelievable bind.

Collectively, the province's First Nations have borrowed $420 million to finance their end of the negotiations. If they abandon the process, they still owe the money and there is nothing to show for it. If they hang in, they'll go even further in debt.

By the time these treaties are concluded - if that day ever comes - the entire value of the settlements could be owed in legal and consulting fees.."

Gosh, whatever could be the matter? It's not as if the BC Treaty Commission hasn't got highly-qualified and perfect people in charge...

BC Treaty Commissioner : Jerry L Lampert

Vanderzalm's Chief of Staff - who better? How the west was won - no wonder Canada's pols love and support Israel so much!

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The Sliammon FN highlights the problem with the whole process.  Under our Charter aboriginal rights are both community based and individual based.  How can some people extinguish the rights of other people who don't agree? 


Tracy Timothy, another protestor and a former band councillor who had been involved in negotiations, said terms of the treaty had been dictated by the federal and provincial governments. For example, Timothy said, there was a proposal by Tla’amin for resource revenue sharing. “It was all voted down,” he said. “Everything was no.”

Another concern he has is aboriginal rights and title, Timothy said. “They have my aboriginal right on the table. That’s my right. You can’t sell my right. It’s mine. They’re negotiating my aboriginal right away.”

Sandy Point, another protestor, said he had no trust in Tla’amin negotiators. “We’re not ready. We need more qualified people to be sitting at the table with lawyers and negotiators.”

Sherry Bullock, another protestor, said she was the mother of 10 children who were Tla’amin band members. “I’m standing here for them,” she said. “My concern is that treaty is a termination of anything that is going to be left for our children in the future.”

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I sat on the Lower Mainland Regional Advisory Committee as a labour rep in the mid 1990's.  The business people and their racist allies like Strahl were very clear that the process, as far as they were concerned, could only lead to the extinguishment of aboriginal title.  Of course they much preferred to call it "certainty."  The problem for them is that without the signing away of FN's rights they don't know how far the courts would go in granting full rights including ownership rights over resources and land. They require the certainty of buying out the rights of all future generations of the FN's that sign on to the treaties.  The idea of having to deal with a number of different sovereign nations was never on the table for the Howe Street suits and their sycophants.

Of course the FN's are also in a bind because while the British based colonial law says they still have rights, the extent of those rights has never been fully tested.  The SCC since the Calder decision in 1973 has been saying, "we don't want to decide so go sign a treaty."  I think we are coming to the point soon where we will find out whether FN's rights are restricted to the right to be consulted but over ridden by parliament or whether No Means No.

None of the FN's are claiming in court that they are totally independent sovereign countries. That is the framework for the negotiation of the treaties.  As well at the treaty tables the FN's have not specified any land that they want returned that has already been turned into fee simple lands. The colonial courts in Australia ruled that anything that the government has done to restrict title has also potentially extinguished the claim since parliament is the sovereign body with the underlying title.

The Tsawwassen First Nation not only extinguished title but much of the land they agreed on had previously been in the Agricultural Land Reserve.  Like good business people they promptly struck a deal with Howe Street to expand the port facilities on the ALR lands at the mouth of the delta.


The Nisga'a land claim can be traced back to 1887. Since that time, the Nisga'a had lobbied governments in Canada and abroad to resolve their claim. In 1968, litigation commenced to determine the question. The Nisga'a Tribal Council brought an action against the Attorney-General of British Columbia for a declaration that the Aboriginal title to certain lands had never been lawfully extinguished. The Nisga'a argued that while sovereignty and underlying title may be with the Crown, it was subject to Nisga'a Aboriginal title � that is, a right to occupy and manage their lands until otherwise provided by treaty. This argument failed both at trial and in the Court of Appeal where it was held that there was no Aboriginal title in the province of British Columbia as the government had not recognised it. The decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court. There, one of the seven judges ruled that the issue of Aboriginal title was not properly before the court as the Nisga'a had not sought and obtained permission to sue the Crown. Six judges thus remained to consider the issues, finding that the Aboriginal title which the Nisga'a had upon European contact is a burden on the underlying title of the Crown, and exists irrespective of government recognition.


Sliammon's Brandon Peters Explains Opposition to BC Trick-or-Treaty Ratification Vote (and vid)

how the West was won..


Mulgrew: Treaty Process Frustration Growing

"A long hot summer of tension among first nations appears on the horizon after two decades of interminable treaty negotiations, growing frustrations and the return of the radical rhetoric of legal scholar Bruce Clark. 'A treaty is an agreement betweem sovereign states,' he maintains - but that is not what is happening under the current process.."

Will We See A Resurgence of Indigenous Warrior Societies in BC?

"Canadian authorities are extremely threatened by any kind of rise of indigenous nationhood. They'll go to any length to criminalize and to disrupt a true indigenous movement in favour of one that seeks to align itself with Canadian objectives. Most indigenous people have been taught to accept Canadian law and to see their nations as defeated,' Taiaiake Alfred said..."


Tsilhqot'in Winners, Losers in Court of Appeal

"BC justice panel dismisses claim to aboriginal title, but confirms band has right to earn 'moderate livelihood' from land in Interior. Chief Marilyn Baptiste says the issue of aboriginal title is a key one that will be taken to the Supreme Court of Canada.."


RCMP Threaten Arrests in Treaty Revote Following Criticism of Earlier Inaction

BC colonists' court upholds band council's right to sell out Sliammon national rights, extort/purchase 'assent'/votes -  RCMP to enforce 'extinguishment with consent' trick-or-treaty vote. See #10

US Indian Tribal Sovereignty - The realpolitic

"...In British Columbia the federal government fraudulently is treating with 'First Nations' for the surrender of the territorial sovereignty of the Indian Tribes the existence of which is denied. The axiom is nemo dat quod non habet - one can not give what one does not have.."


Members of Sliammon First Nation Approve Treaty by Vote of 318-235


Criminality and Law on the North American Frontiers of Indian Country

"Many of the same forces that make North America a primary aggressor in contemporary processes of colonization abroad are also operative in the internal colonization of the continent's First Nations. This article explores the dynamics of this internal colonization by looking at the treatment of Aboriginal fishers in BC and the Pacific Northwest of the US..."

sknguy II

Mr. Hall seems an interesting person. I bought his book "Earth into Property" this spring but haven't yet chosen a time to start reading it. Bought it as one of my summer reads, but... it certainly looks a grand book to get through.

Indigenous people have an amazing opportunity to affect the direction of the economic focus in this country. It sounds like an impossible goal, to face the monuments to capitalism, but we have the opportunity to insist that corporations be more accountable, and we have an opportunity to assist in guiding the economy towards more sustainable practices. Aside from the fact that it's a common practice of corporations to strategically divide communities, with their carrot dangling practices, this is something that is quite within the abilities of Indigenous peoples to acheive. Recently, my own community stood firm in the face of settling for the trinkets being offered by one of the mining corporations concerning local resource development, even where other communities felt the compensation was sufficient to accept. It's not always about money.

If our communities were able to stick together we could have a say in determining responsible resource management practices. We could have a say in the regulation of industry. So, to some people it really isn't about the money aspect of resource sharing. For some it's for the sake of our responsibilites and about reaquainting ourselves with traditional responsibilities. We can insist that Canada respect the alternate conceptual language of our traditions. Something that was unattainable for our ancestors and having monumentally tragic results. I think we own it to them... and to the future.

Here's an interesting article from 2010 on co-management in northern Canada. And it's unfortunate that the idea of Indigenous peoples having anything to do with managing resources often ends up being framed, boiled down, and refocussed as a political hot potato issue. There's a very intersting older 2001 paper that explored the pitfalls of co-management on the international stage. But can't find it just now, hopefully I'll come across it and post it.

EDIT: just to note, in fairness to many communities, they often just don't have the economic where-with-all to reject the financial benefits of buying into what the corporations are offering. AAND already has many communities over the barrel by regulating us and providing us just enough to be able to not-get-anywhere.


Purges in Indian Country  -  by Will Parrish

"...The official power structure on innumerable Indian reservations are made up of self interested carpetbaggers. As many observers and supporters of native people's values have pointed out, these are often the people who have most adapted themselves to the materialistic values of the dominance society, and who are best equipped to manipulate the reservation system's dysfunctional power relations for their own personal gain. Here in the United States of America, the Indian reservations most often operate in a manner akin to Third World totalitarian US client states..."

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Harper's manifesto: Erasing Canada's Indigenous communities


What used to be laws against Indigenous peoples hiring lawyers to advocate on their behalf, are now devasting funding cuts to local, regional and provincial First Nation political organizations. All coming at a time when Harper wants chaos, confusion, and lack of political capacity to ensure there is little resistance to his comprehensive Indian Act-based legislative agenda.

He hopes to strike fear and confusion in chiefs so that they don't know whether to stay quiet and hope it doesn't get worse, or take action. Either way, funding cuts will be imposed on local First Nations as well. This is not about whether regional political organizations are doing a good job or not -- this is about Harper fulfilling the original intentions of Indian policy (1) accessing Indigenous lands and resources and (2) reducing financial obligations to Indigenous peoples. He just happens to see striking at political organizations as the best way to isolate individual First Nations, already overwhelmed with issues, so they are easier to bully into submission.

sknguy II

From the above article:

If Canadians think that this does not concern them -- they should think again. As your "Canada" slowly becomes a dictatorship led by a rogue Prime Minister who is obsessed with power, Canadian laws, rules, and regulations are breached with impunity. Everything from elections, ethics, budgets, and legislation are manipulated without regard for the rule of law. The damage done by these renegade Conservatives is already so severe that analysts feel it will take years to undo the harm.

Compounding the assimilation process is the task of dealing with the ultra-conservative sensibility about the role of government and principles on social responsibility. There is an ideological practice of “silencing the opponents” for processes that could otherwise impede a neo-conservative sense of progress... or impede their agenda for doing the things they think need doing. It's the typical anti-government deregulation stuff, including the elimination of programs that otherwise regulate "libertarian freedoms” and at the same time reduce social and environmental responsibilities of the government.

I'm sure Harper will introduce us to new conservative norms through his tenure. But, I think this is as much about being subjected to an unscrupulous libertarian-conservative agenda as anything. Meaning there isn't much we shouldn't expect from Harper than what we would expect from any other such conservative government. And, other than being vigilant, I'm not sure how one makes progress against this brand of conservatism. It's the 80's all over again, minus the progressive in conservatism.


Venezuelans Commemorate Day of Indigenous Resistance

"Venezuelans have celebrated The Day of Indigenous Resistance to commemorate the Native American peoples' battle against the European occupation.."

see also Dr Pam Palmater's excellent piece on Rabble frontpage on why that resistance must deepen and grow...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture