Aboriginal Peoples and Politics
The Indian Land Question in British Columbia, 1849-1989
Aboriginal claims remain a controversial but little understood issue in contemporary Canada. British Columbia has been, and remains, the setting for the most intense and persistent demands by Native people, and also for the strongest and most consistent opposition to Native claims by governments and the non-aboriginal public. Land has been the essential question; the Indians have claimed continuing ownership while the province has steadfastly denied the possibility.
This book presents the first comprehensive treatment of the land question in British Columbia and is the first to examine the modern political history of British Columbia Indians. It covers the land question from its very beginnings and gives detailed attention to the most recent court decisions, government policies, land claim developments, and Indian protest blockades.
Providing a new interpretation of Governor James Douglas, Paul Tennant views him as less generous to the Indians than have most other historians and demonstrates how Douglas was largely responsible for the future course of the land question. In contrast to what many non-Indians are assuming, the Indians of British Columbia began their land claims at the start of white settlement and persevered despite the massive efforts of missionaries and government officials to suppress Indian culture and despite Parliament's outlawing of claim-related activities. The Indians emerge in this book as political innovators who maintained their identity and ideals and who today have more strength and unity than ever before.
The author has conducted extensive interviews with many Indian leaders and has examined the inner workings of government agencies and Indian political organizations. While sympathetic to Native claims, he focuses as much on failures and deficiencies as on strengths and successes.
Paul Tennant's history of native politics and the land claims issue in British Columbia is both topical and inclusive. Political science and native studies students, as well as those simply seeking an explanation of the B.C. government's position on native land claims, will find something of value in this book.
Paul Tennant's book should be required reading for Premier Bill Vander Zalm. Tennant offers an impressive overview of Indian political activity in this century ... tremendously timely final chapter.
An excellent new book that is required reading on B.C. land claims.
1 Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Claims
2 The Douglas Treaties and Aboriginal Title
3 The Douglas "System": Reserves, Pre-Emptions, and Assimilation
4 Segregation and Suppression, 1864-87
5 Demands for Title, Treaties, and Self-Government, 1887-99
6 The Politics of Survival
7 From Intertribal to Province-Wide Political Action, 1900-16
8 Cut-Offs, Claims Prohibition, and the Allied Tribes, 1916-27
9 Coastal Politics: The Native Brotherhood and Tribal Councils, 1931-58
10 Interior Politics and Attempts at Province-Wide Unity, 1958-68
11 Federal Government Initiatives, 1960-9
12 The Formation of New Organizations, 1969-71
13 Big Money and Big Organizations, 1972-5
14 Tribalism Re-Established, 1976-9
15 Forums and Funding, Protests and Unity, 1980-9
16 Aboriginal Title in the Courts
17 The Province and Land Claims Negotiations, 1976-89
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