Monday, October 26, 2009

Long Quote: Indigenous "Self-Government" In Canada

For Aboriginal peoples in Canada, self-government can represent freedom from a long history of oppressive colonial governance: "ever since they were forcibly deprived of self-government by colonial powers, Indians have hoped to reclaim it. An offer of self-government is one they can hardly resist" [Boldt and Long 1988: 47]. The counterfoil, or disciplinary tactic, underlying this particular mode of governance-through-freedom is the threat of the loss or further limitation of what hard-won autonomy First Nations have been "awarded." Therefore, government control of the finances upon which First Nations communities rely is a central mechanism for disciplinary practices. To avoid the disciplinary "whip," First Nations are compelled to structure their governments in a manner that re-creates liberal ideals of limited and accountable government.

Devolutionary processes at the heart of current self-government initiativies can be understood to mould First Nations governments into "municipal-type structures that can be readily slotted into existing federal and provincial systems" [Boldt and Long 1988: 28]. First Nations bands and organizations, having finally won a degree of autonomy from the (post) colonial government, have a vested interest in maintaining and enhancing the current relationship -- despite the difficulties of inadequate support structures and funding. Radical solutions or new experiments in social and political practices are curtailed as emergent structures of First Nations governance increasingly come under the disciplinary and supervisory gaze of the Canadian government.

-- Amie McLean, p. 82, "Colonialism, Resistance and Indigenous Post-Secondary Education in Canada," in Mobilizations, Protests & Engagements: Canadian Perspectives on Social Movements edited by Marie Hammond-Callaghan and Matthew Hayday, Halfiax: Fernwood Publishing, 2008. (Quotes Meno Boldt and J. Anthony Long. 1988. "Native Indian Self-Government: Instrument of Autonomy or Assimilation?" in J. Anthony Long and Menno Boldt, editors, Governments in Conflict? Toronto: University of Toronto Press.)

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