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Indigenous Rights and Institutions

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Indigenous Rights and Institutions

This topic explores the legal rights and institutions that have developed for and been developed  by indigenous peoples. Indigenous groups' unique history with particular regions and their interactions with non-indigenous peoples have given rise to these rights and institutions. This topic explores the differing views, held by indigenous peoples and the states in which they reside, on the types of rights held and how they play out in specific scenarios. It examines legal decisions made by courts that have shaped the nature and power of indigenous rights and institutions. Canada, among other countries, is an important country of focus for this topic. The concepts listed below pertain to the Canadian context but are relevant in other countries as well.

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will understand the historical evolution of the unique governance institutions that have been developed by and for indigenous peoples in Canada. They will be aware of the key historical and ongoing disputes about the legal rights of Aboriginal Canadians as individuals and members of specific communities, and will be familiar with key court cases that have shaped indigenous rights and institutions.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Aboriginal; Inherent Right to Self-Government; Own Source Revenue; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples; The Crown’s Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples.

Recommended Readings

Queen's University: MPA 879 Comparative Indigenous Governance

Borrows. 2004. Recovering Canada, The Resurgence of Indigenous Law. Page 13 to 28 and page 47 to 55.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. 2006. "Principles of a Renewed Relationship" and "Restructuring the Relationships." In The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Highlights of the report available at

Alfred, T. 2000. "Deconstructing the British Columbia Treaty Process."

Review of the B.C. Treaty Process. Institute on Governance. 1998. "Aboriginal Governance in Urban Settings."

Bunnell, Friesen and Hyung. 2006. "Indigination: the politics of being/becoming indigenous in Malaysia, New Zealand, and Canada."

Barsh, R. 1993. "Aboriginal Governance in the United States: A Qualitative Political Analysis."

Democracy Center. 2007. "Interpreting Bolivia’s Political Transformation."

 Sample Assessment Questions:

1.) What does the term "inherent right to self-government" mean, and what is its importance in the context of Aboriginal governance in Canada?

2.) What is "The Crown's Fiduciary Relationship with Aboriginal Peoples" in Canada? Explain the importance of this concept for public policy in Canada.

Page created by Sean Goertzen and Ben Eisen on 9 May 2015.


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