Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry

Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation

FRANCES WIDDOWSON
ALBERT HOWARD
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt800d2
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  • Book Info
    Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry
    Book Description:

    By examining the root causes of aboriginal problems, Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard expose the industry that has grown up around land claim settlements, showing that aboriginal policy development over the past thirty years has been manipulated by non-aboriginal lawyers and consultants. They analyse all the major aboriginal policies, examine issues that have received little critical attention - child care, health care, education, traditional knowledge - and propose the comprehensive government provision of health, education, and housing rather than deficient delivery through Native self-government.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7512-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. A STORY
    • (pp. 3-16)

      One cold and bright day in Yellowknife, we trudged to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre where we witnessed an event that would dramatically alter our perception of aboriginal policy in Canada. It was 13 February 1996, and the event in question was the Federal Environmental Assessment Review of Broken Hill Properties (BHP) Inc.’s proposed diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, where a panel of four experts was appointed by the Canadian government to probe the implications of the initiative. The review was significant not only because it concerned the first diamond mine development proposal in Canada; it...

  2. PART ONE ORIGINS
    • (pp. 19-48)

      Several winters ago we encountered our dentist at a ski resort in the lunchtime lineup. While chatting about what a good time we were having, he joked that one of our recent root canals was paying for his weekend. The dentist’s ironic sense of humour exemplified an overlooked aspect of the monetary relationship between care-givers and their clients: a patient’s detriment is the practitioner’s benefit. The obvious business-development strategy would be to encourage sugar consumption and negligent dental hygiene, but of course both personal and professional ethics preclude such outrageous tactics.

      Most of us can identify the portion of our...

    • (pp. 49-78)

      The aboriginal tribes of North America have puzzled European philosophers, missionaries, and adventurers since first contact. Who were they and where did they come from? Were they human beings fundamentally similar to the people encountered in the Old World, or sub-humans with a completely different place in the “natural order” of things? And if they were human beings like any other, why did they behave so differently from Europeans? Why, for example, hadn’t they developed cities or institutions like those in the Old World? What prevented them from developing the wheel, manufacturing iron implements, having writing systems, or accumulating material...

  3. PART TWO TABOOS, FABRICATIONS AND SOPHISTRY
    • (pp. 81-105)

      In 1989, audiences around the world were subjected to the spiritualism and sentimentality of the movieField of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. Adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s novelShoeless Joe, the screenplay tells the mythical story of a New Age Iowa farmer, Ray Kinsella (Costner), who listens to a voice that tells him to build a baseball diamond in one of his cornfields. “If you build it, he will come,” asserts the voice, and Ray follows these instructions in an attempt to seek some unknown yet somehow spiritually significant benefit. Ray is rewarded when the ghost of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson materializes...

    • (pp. 106-128)

      Throughout history, taboos have existed against miscegenation – the intermarriage of people of different races – many becoming integrated into modern legal systems. In South Africa, for example, the policy of apartheid prevented miscegenation between blacks and whites,¹ and German laws developed during the Nazi era criminalized “race-mixing.”² This was also the case in the United States, where a number of states’ laws prohibited interracial marriage. These laws were claimed to serve legitimate purposes, including preserving “racial integrity,” as well as preventing “the corruption of blood,” “a mongrel breed of citizens,” and “the obliteration of racial pride.” The laws were also...

    • (pp. 129-159)

      During the 1990s two murder cases involving aboriginal peoples in Ontario received prominent coverage in theGlobe and Mail. One story concerned the case of Martin Blackwind, an aboriginal homeless person in Toronto, who smashed in the head of “his lover,” Kathleen Hart, killing her while she slept. The second murder occurred during the summer of 1995, when Leon Jacko, an Ojibway from the Sheguiandah Reserve near Sudbury, bludgeoned another community member, Ron Thompson, to death.

      Blackwind was eventually convicted of manslaughter because prosecutors felt that his inebriated state at the time of the killing would have made it difficult...

    • (pp. 160-172)

      On 18 April 1998 theMontreal Gazetterecalled a horrific incident that had occurred eight years earlier in Montreal.¹ While visiting the city, an Inuit woman from northern Quebec went home with a Montagnais man after drinking with him and his Gwich’in roommate, Michel, at the Mont Bar on Ste Catherine Street. Although the woman was too drunk to have sexual relations with the man, and passed out on his couch, she woke up some time later to find her wrists and ankles taped and Michel sodomizing her. The ordeal ended hours later when she was blindfolded and shoved into...

    • (pp. 173-190)

      In Angus Graham’s 1935 biographical storyThe Golden Grindstone, a Toronto-born insurance adjuster named Mitchell has his knee operated on by two Dene women in a northern camp. Graham recounts Mitchell’s ordeal:

      Flora made her first cut, about three inches long, inside the knee and upwards: this didn’t bleed freely and what blood there was came out clotted, but it gave a feeling of relief and I urged them to press the blood out. Then she made another cut cross-ways below the knee and a third like the first, up the outer side of the leg, and after these cuts...

    • (pp. 191-214)

      Carl Sagan – scientist, writer, and educator – was one of the great progressive minds of the twentieth century. His death on 20 December 1996 at the age of sixty-two was a sad day for all who value rational thought. Through various books, articles, and television programs, Sagan was able to inform non-experts about the importance of scientific thinking in humanity’s development. He also used these public forums to warn us about the intellectually corrosive consequences of New Age pseudo-science and mysticism.

      It is this sentiment that drives one of his most engrossing books,The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution...

    • (pp. 215-228)

      When one of us (Widdowson) began her doctoral studies, she participated in a First Nations and Public Policy discussion group organized by York University graduate students. The group, moderated by Michael Posluns, promised to enable students from all disciplines to engage in debates about First Nations issues. Posluns had initiated the group because of his historical involvement in aboriginal politics. A co-author of the glorified account of George Manuel’s life,¹ Posluns had also worked as the editor of Akwasasne News , a native advocacy newspaper, and as a consultant for the Native Brotherhood.²

      The most heated debates on the listserv...

  4. PART THREE SPHERES OF DECEPTION
    • (pp. 231-248)

      It is appropriate that since we started this book with traditional knowledge, we should end with it. Of all the initiatives that we have seen throughout the years of studying aboriginal policy, none equals either in depth or breadth the promotion of traditional knowledge. Because it provides the foundation for all the Aboriginal Industry-inspired claims that are being made, traditional knowledge advocacy goes to the heart of current aboriginal policies. Its essence is the overarching assumption that aboriginal peoples, because of their ancestry (i.e., race), have a special world view or way of understanding reality that makes them intrinsically different...

    • (pp. 249-264)

      Throughout the years of writing this book, our conversations with interested parties have invariably turned to the question of solutions. There have been endless accounts of aboriginal problems over the years, such commentators would tell us, but we need to get on with the business of solving the terrible conditions plaguing aboriginal communities. The implication was that if we did not focus on solutions, our book would add nothing to the current discussions about aboriginal policy.

      Our answer always has been to state the obvious: that a problem can be solved only when its cause has been properly identified. This...