Indigenous Self-Government Negotiations in the Northwest Territorries (NWT), Canada: Time, Reality and Social Suffering
University of Cambridge
Scott Polar Research Institute
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Irlbacher-Fox, S. (2005). Indigenous Self-Government Negotiations in the Northwest Territorries (NWT), Canada: Time, Reality and Social Suffering (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.27507
During the past 30 years, Canada has attempted to reconcile Aboriginal rights and title with Canadian sovereignty; including rights of political self determination, or "self government". I examine this process critically in this dissertation, exploring how temporal characterizations of Indigenous peoples, and injustices they suffer, are used by Canadian state representatives to restrict Canada's approaches to resolving injustice. This temporally based approach underpins a broader federal policy orientation rendering meaningless Indigenous peoples' experiences of social suffering arising from injustice. Emptying suffering of meaning is accomplished practically through 'Aboriginal policies' in which symptoms of suffering are defined as "dysfunction". The thrust of broad based 'Aboriginal policy' locates "dysfunction" as arising from actions internal to Indigenous peoples, rather than suffering arising from injustices perpetuated through Canada's social, political, and economic order. The dissertation begins with a description of legal and political foundations of self government negotiations in the NWT. This is followed by an interrogation of concepts of temporality used discursively by Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, leading to a critique of temporally based philosophical arguments regarding "historic injustice". These arguments are shown to be correlates with arguments asserted in government policies shaping negotiations. Through three examples drawn from three different self government negotiations, I examine how temporal characterizations solidify the disconnection between 'Aboriginal policy' orientations and the conditions creating ongoing social suffering within Indigenous communities. Throughout, descriptions of moose hide tanning function as ethnographic detail and an analytical tool drawn from Dene culture. This introduces the reader to a unique cultural referent for thinking about self government through Indigenous values and practices. It also functions as a tool through which Indigenous peoples, injustice, and 'Aboriginal policy' are situated as coeval, exposing the contradictions inherent in a government policy orientation premised on their temporal separation.
Digitisation of this thesis was sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.27507
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