Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry makes a persuasive case for a re-examination of the policies that that have informed the relationship between the native and non-native communities of Canada.
Put briefly, the authors maintain that the protracted negotiations that have drawn out land claim settlements are the result of lawyers and consultants in both communities who have a vested financial and political interest in never reaching a resolution. Further, the authors assert that the respect that is given to traditional aboriginal knowledge as it applies to ecology, governance, education, health is rooted in a fundamentally flawed and romantic notion of the noble savage (though I don’t think they use this term except in passing) that forgets (or chooses to forget) that aboriginal communities at the time of contact were hunter-gatherers with a subsistence economy. These skills, the authors, maintain, are inconsistent with participation in the modern world and can only lead to continued marginalization.
The authors make no excuse for the way in which aboriginal people have been treated in Canada. They do not deny the unfairness of treatment or the harsh reality of the residential schools – though they reject the notion that the schools represent a form of cultural genocide. Their thesis, developed through the lens of historical materialism, is that Europeans and aboriginal people were at very different stages of development at the time of first contact. The skills and knowledge possessed by aboriginal people were at first useful to the Europeans as they developed and profited from the fur trade. But with that resource exhausted, aboriginal skills became less valued and the progressive removal of the aboriginal people from the land served to exclude them from developing capitalist models, leaving them with no skills of value.
One of the authors' more controversial observations is that from an economic perspective the marginalization of aboriginal people was more damaging than the institution of slavery. The observation is in no way intended to minimize or trivialize either experience but is intended to demonstrate that slaves had an economic value based on their ability to perform work that was valued by the economic system. Their ability, for example, to plant and harvest crops had a value insofar as that work represented a skill set that could be traded for wages. This analysis sticks in my throat but it’s new to me and therefore worthy of some consideration.
This is not an easy book to read. My own experience as a community advocate has made me suspicious of people who set out to gore sacred cows, but also has taught me to be skeptical of the people who decide which cows get to be sacred.
While I haven’t read enough on the topic to be able to draw a conclusion, the book is provocative and worth the time to read and evaluate.
This book is full of stereotypes and has a very colonial look at indigenous peoples. It fails to understand the impact of colonialism on those cultures and identities and the impact of residential schools - not because of the quality of the education that was provided but for the policy of eradication of indigenous cultures, to civilize the "Indians". It is also extremely misleading. Research has shown that nations that are in self-government are in a much better position than the others and treaties are not expected to be frozen in time but evolve with societies. Modern treaties have achieved a stellar improvement in the lives of those peoples that have them. It's self-serving for settlers to pretend that times have changed and we should forget the past but that's neither the reality nor is it in tune with indigenous rights recognized worldwide in international treaties (all are modern treaties and conventions). If lawyers benefit it's because the governments have consistently refused to accept their fiduciary responsibility for indigenous peoples and act according to the honour of the Crown - the courts have also consistently blasted Canada for its violation of those rights. This book is therefore misleading on many aspects but is an interesting insight about the colonial mentality that one can find nowadays in governments and, to a lesser extent, in the industry.
The authors try to determine why Aboriginal groups consistently seem to underperform the general population, even though much financial effort has been utilized for their benefit. They illustrate: how they came about to this work, what is transpiring, and what might be the solution(s). Frankly, after reading this, I almost think a 'qui tan' lawsuit should be initiated against the parties involved, for fraud. Animism, Fascism(depotism), junk science,support for pedeophiles, FAS (which is a multi-generaltional empediment, once started), rejection of rationality because its 'Eurocentric", health as spirit(s), education as revolving around 4 and animals as teachers, its disturbing as well as disgusting. Simpletons rule the bureaucracies; and lawyers, consultants, bureaucrats, and various others have capitialized and made fortunes on the ignorance, parading as assistance. The authors get sarcastic at times, and that is their failure. Trudeau's white paper of 1968 was the best insight into what had to be done. Instead, we accepted the Hawthorne reports thesis, and now, face, suicides, lost generations, etc and oweing degenerate intelligensia - who knows not what they are supposed to know, a macaroni man inspired political caste, and a lack of genuine insights into solutions, we will be performing these tasks for eternity. Treaties never ever lasted more than one generation, and certainly not for 400 years. Someone has to mature, and start their neural synapses. There are solutions, but no one wants them, no one wants to really help, everyone seems to want perpetual incomes, and sinecures.
This book asks many commonsense questions about why aboriginal people in Canada by and large continue to live on the margins of Canadian society. The analysis is weakest on providing a thorough explanation of the alternative policies for reversing the situation. The book concludes with notes and references; and an index.
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