A People’s Dream: Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada by Dan Russell

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By Dan Russell

Written by way of a practicing Aboriginal legal professional, this publication argues that Aboriginal self-government in Canada might top be accomplished through a constitutional modification, now not via treaties, as has been the preoccupation of provincial governments because 1982.

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In the same year, Congress introduced the Courts of Indian Offences, otherwise known as the CFRs (Courts of Federal Regulations). Their purpose, together with the law and order codes that they implemented, was both to “civilize” Indians and to rein in their criminal law authority. Judges were appointed by the local Indian agent, who then administered an entirely Eurocentric code of criminal laws. Not only were these laws not culturally sensitive to the community, but they also often prohibited specific local religious and cultural activities such as the Sun Dance ceremonies, the recounting of legends and myths, and even the singing of traditional songs.

94 The Laguna communities have highways, schools, health centres, churches, and commercial centres with an assortment of industries. The mining of uranium, carried out through leases with both tribal and nontribal businesses, is a significant source of local income together with tribal enterprises such as an electronics plant. These communities exist in much the same manner as do small Canadian communities. They possess a cultural vigour drawn from their people, but like many other small communities they are subject to the whims of an uncertain marketplace.

The general prohibition against state jurisdiction in Indian country, as established by Worcester, received its first significant reinterpretation in Williams v. 53 This 1959 Supreme Court case was based on a civil law suit brought in a state court by a non-Indian for the collection of a commercial debt alleged to have been incurred by an Indian couple. The purchases were made on a Navajo reservation. The court reaffirmed the holdings in Worcester by declaring that state courts have no civil law jurisdiction on an Indian reservation.

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